SUMMER FESTIVAL 2021 – Applications open

Pepter Lunkuse as Viola Photo credit: Hannah Barton


Applications are now open for Iris Theatre’s Outdoor Summer Festival 2021, taking place right in the heart of Covent Garden between the months of June – August. The festival will be a celebration of early-career artists and of their work, bringing together an incredible programme of exceptional theatre and performance. 


Five early-career artists/companies will be awarded a £1,000 seed commission + technical, marketing & creative support and programmed for a one-week run as part of the festival in Summer 2021. The box office will be a straightforward, transparent, 50/50 split


Alongside this, Iris Theatre will also be producing a piece of work to close out the end of the festival. We are planning for work to be shared outdoors, with social distancing in place. 



What we are looking for…


Iris theatre has a proud reputation for delivering creatively ambitious theatre whilst working within limited means – this ethos will be the lifeblood of the festival. We are looking for courageous work from early-career artists and companies that focus on narrative and imagination, work that can thrive within a simple outdoor space, functional technical spec and modest set


Your piece might be a musical, a new play, a performance for young audiences or an adaptation of a much loved story or classic…We want to hear your ideas!


Performances will be taking place outdoors, in the grounds of St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden…it’s open to the elements and so heightened text is always a good friend. 


When programming we also like to keep a few key things in mind….Verse, Music, Family, Relevance (obviously, proposals don’t need to include ALL of these things!).


Work can also be at various stages of development and we have a preference for projects which have yet to receive a full production. We plan to keep an open mind with proposals but we hope the above offers some steering. 



How to apply… 


We want to ensure that the application process is as straightforward as possible. There are no long forms or restrictive character counts here! 


All we’d like is a short video or email telling us about you/your company, what your idea is and why this might be a good opportunity for you at this stage in your career. Think ‘overview’, rather than a full pitch at this point.


That’s it! 


We will then shortlist applicants for further meetings and build from there.


Deadline for initial considerations is 15th March 2021 and you can send your ideas to us at 


If either of these formats feel inaccessible to you, please let us know as we are happy to consider other ways of application.



A note on the seed commission…


We hope that this seed commission can serve as a foundation for artists/companies to garner further funding. We will be on hand to offer guidance and support in any of your fundraising efforts. 


While we recognize that £1,000 is not a huge amount, we hope that for a charity of our size, this seed commission highlights our ambitions and the beginning of a direction of travel, rather than a final destination.





When we say “early-career” we don’t mean “young”. People enter the arts at different stages in their life and therefore we don’t restrict this term to an age bracket. Whilst “early-career” can be a movable feast, dependent on the individual’s experience, we define “early-career” as those within the first 8 professional years of their chosen area of discipline. This also includes artists who are looking to access the industry for the very first time. 



Dates and T&C


Applicants must be available for a one week performance run in London between 28th June-31st July


Deadline for submissions will be 6pm 15th March 2021


We will of course inform ALL applicants on the result of submission, however, as we are a very small team, we cannot commit to giving in-depth feedback should your project not be successful


If successful, applicants will be invited for meetings (likely via zoom) throughout w/c 22nd March 2021


Awarding of the seed commission is reliant on participation within our Outdoor Summer Festival 2021