Unity Open Call Programme 2021: Local Artist Submissions - Unity Theatre

It’s been a difficult time for live performers and people who co-create with community participants. Income streams and creative outlets have been restricted. Local artists have long been the cornerstone of Unity’s mission and we’ve tried to support you throughout the pandemic. As performances become more feasible in 2021 we want to continue to help you survive and comeback stronger than ever.

So we are asking Merseyside creatives to submit work for consideration as part of our reopening season taking place between February and May 2021.

The call-out is open to a wide range of people and practices. For example, you might be a theatre company, performer, community practitioner, musician, deviser, comedian, puppeteer, digital artist or spoken word artist.

If you have a performance or creative experience you’d love to share with audiences or participants, Unity are keen to hear from you. You might want to present it on our stages, offsite or online. We’re particularly interested in presenting artists whose work contributes to an understanding of the need for an accessible, representative and more supportive society. You might have an idea to facilitate your local community to express their creativity or you have a performance of your own, your work could be fully formed or still in progress; created before the pandemic or an idea that came to you during lockdown. We’re open to all your ideas. The key is to get you back doing what you do best.


Unity normally offers a variety of deals, quite often related to box office income. However, with a socially distanced reduced capacity, ticket income won’t amount to much. Therefore, for work presented as part of the open call programme we’re offering a guaranteed fee of up to £1,250 for your event. Don’t worry if your work only costs £500, put in an application as we might just consider it for two nights.

Open Call Commission for Online Work:

We know that as a consequence of Covid-19 some D/deaf, neurodivergent and disabled artists face unique and unprecedented additional challenges in maintaining their practice. For some this includes shielding. If this is the case for you we are also running an Open Call Commission of up to £3,000 to create a new piece of online work.

Recording and Streaming of Work:

As part of our commitment to enable Merseyside artists to build sustainable careers, all chosen applicants – whether work is performed in venue, offsite or online – will have the opportunity for their work to be professionally recorded and uploaded to Unity’s Programmers Portal, which we will be seen by programmers across the UK and beyond.

We anticipate that in spring 2021 we’ll still have a limited capacity and know that shielding will remain a way of life for some. Therefore, programmed applicants will also be provided the opportunity to have their work developed for live stream to ensure as many people as possible can access your work.


Round 1 – Open Call Programme and Open Call Commission Expressions of Interest Application Window: Wednesday 3rd December – Monday 4th January

Initially Unity will be seeking short application in the Open Call Programme and the Open Call Online Commission. Express your interest through our one-page application form or through a 2 minute video application.

Applications should be submitted to artists@unitytheatre.co.uk

Round 2 – Shortlisted Candidates Application Development Window: Thursday 7th – Monday 18th January

By 7th January a shortlist will be contacted and each given £150 to develop their application further from which a panel of Unity team members and partners will decide the final programme. The reason we’re paying artists at this stage is to acknowledge the time required to write an application and, whether you are chosen or not, the fee will allow you paid time to create an application that can be adapted for elsewhere.

Programming decisions: Friday 22nd January.

At this stage we’ll be in touch with chosen artists to arrange dates, fees and marketing information ahead of a season announcement the following week.

Application Forms and Information Packs:

Access Support:
If you have any access requirements or require support in making your application please get in touch.


Sign-up to the Zoom Information Sharing and Q&A with Gordon Millar and Rachael Welsh here.

Unity Open Call Programme: Information and Q&A Zoom

Are you interested in applying for either our Open Call Programme or Online Commission but want to find out more? Join Unity’s Business Development Manager Rachael Welsh and CEO & Artistic Director Gordon Millar for a presentation and Q&A, answering your questions ahead of application. The session will take place on Zoom on Wednesday 9th December […]

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