Artist Development with Z-arts

Z-arts is dedicated to developing and nurturing long-term relationships with artists, we work closely with creatives who want to make excellent high-quality theatre for children, specifically diverse work that reflects the communities we serve. We are particularly interested in work that seeks the voice of children in the research, development and creation of work.

Z-arts Artist Development

The following outlines Z-arts’ approach to artist development

Z-arts is committed to supporting artists based in Manchester and the wider North-West. We recognise the importance of supporting a wide range of artists, that reflect the diversity of the North-West.

Z-arts is publishing our current working criteria, which we will refer to when reviewing artist support requests. Your relevance in relation to the criteria will influence what support we can offer.

What we can offer to artists:

  • Mentoring/Project Support
    • Time with us to chat about your project
  • Space
    • Rehearsal Space
    • Performance Space
  • Finances
    • Money
    • Support in kind
  • Networking
    • Information sharing with various networks
    • Meeting the Big Imagination Network
    • Meeting Z-arts Staff
  • Introductions to other networks that we’re part of.
  • Other
    • There may be some other support you’re seeking that doesn’t neatly fit into the categories above. We’re happy to hear about it.

The criteria we’re currently working with are as follows:

  • Is your creative team diverse (your whole creative team, not just your show/project casting/participants)?
    • How have you considered the lack of diversity present in children’s theatre?
    • What practical things are you doing to combat this problem in the industry?
  • Would your work be part of a continued/existing relationship with Z-arts?
  • Are you based in the North-West of England?
  • How do you consider your work to be pushing boundaries and/or taking risks?
  • Is it aimed at 0 – 11-year-olds (and their families)?


Z-arts is working with a new standardised support request process to ensure consistency for artists. Isah, our Artist Development Producer, outlines Z-arts approach to artist development:

  • On the first Thursday of every month, Zoe (Head of Programming), Isah (Artist Development Producer) and Liz (Artistic Director and CEO) will read all the submissions from that month.
  • The following Thursday we will meet to discuss the requests for support and discuss if and what we can support. We will score your project/work/request against the criteria listed above to determine the level of support we can provide to you, if any.
  • Once we’ve had this meeting and we’re all in agreement, we will get back to the artists with our decision and a detailed list of support we’re able to commit to you and your work.
  • Additionally, on the third Thursday of every month, Isah will be holding artist development 1-to-1 sessions with artists to meet and connect with Z-arts and understand your work. These are 1-to-1’s can be booked via my Calendly page:

These meetings will only take place monthly and therefore we encourage artists to be proactive in seeking support. If you miss the monthly deadlines then it won’t be until the following month that we’ll meet to consider, discuss and agree on the support available for your request. Due to our busy schedule and the large variety of work, we’re committed to supporting, we strongly encourage submitting requests as far in advance as possible, so we have plenty of time to gather the resources and make the enquiries we need to support your work.


If you are able to gain support from Z-arts for your project in one (or more) of the above ways, we have guidelines on how you can talk about the support you’ve received in any public facing materials. The breakdown of how you may speak about the support you’ve received from Z-arts is as follows:

  • ‘In-kind Support Received from Z-arts’
    • We ask that artists use the phrase ‘In-kind Support Received from Z-arts’ if they have received free support from Z-arts in way of free space hire and nothing else. This is typically any support from Z-arts that hasn’t come with a contract or letter of agreement and where Z-arts has not invested any finances into the project and is not attached to any outcome.
  • ‘Supported by Z-arts’
    • We ask that artists use the phrase ‘Supported by Z-arts’ if they’re undertaking a piece of work, in which Z-arts is directly supporting them as an artist to create a piece of work. This is typically in a contact or letter of agreement, and will include project/production support, space hire, sharing/performance support.
  • ‘Commissions or Co-commissioned by Z-arts’
    • We ask that artists use the phrase ‘Commissioned by Z-arts’ or ‘Co-commissioned by Z-arts’ if they are working on a project that Z-arts has directly commissions or co-commissioned. This will typically be an artist who z-arts is investing large amounts of money and other resources into, will receive project/production support, free space hire, marketing and other support. This work would all be contacted in quite a big contract. This might be a commission from Z-arts only or it might be coming from multiple people, which would decide whether it was a commission or co-commission.
  • ‘Seed Funded by Z-arts’
    • We ask that artist use the phrase ‘Seed funded by Z-arts’ if they’re a recipient of one of the Z-arts seed funds to create a new project/piece of the children theatre. These are artists who’ve applied to one of our Z-arts seed funding rounds and have been successful  This is typically contracted with a letter of agreement and they will receive project/production support, space hire, sharing/performance support.

If you have received support from Z-arts but don’t think the support you received fits into any of these categories please get in touch with Isah-Levi Roach ( and he can confirm with you the best way to speak about the support you’ve received.

If you are making work for children and families but you do not meet all of the aforementioned criteria, we still encourage artists to get in touch with Z-arts as we’re always interested in connecting with artists and understanding their work, and who knows, your work might line up with our criteria more than you previously thought.

Please be aware that if you’re not making work for children and families, we cannot offer the rehearsal space or support in kind. This is because work for children and families is an essential criterion for free support.

Space hire would therefore come at a cost of:

  • Per hour: £50
  • Per day: £300
  • Per week: £1,000

For external hires not making work for children and families, we cannot offer space booking more than 1 month in advance, so we can keep the space available for artists who are making work for children and families.

Please note: The criteria listed below pertain to artist development only. It is not reflective of our commissioning criteria. Commissioning ability lies with our producing and programming and therefore would require a different conversation.

Book a 1-to-1 with Isah

Previous Examples of Z-arts’ Artist Development

Big Imaginations Supported Artists

Creative Facilitator Training

Commissions and Co-commissions

Seed Funding

Other Supported Artists