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Open Fund: Sustaining Creative Development

Please note, some details of this fund have changed from 7 October 2020. For further information, please read the latest Open Fund news story.


  • Funding available for between £1k and £100k
  • The fund aims to enable individuals and organisations to explore ways of working that will help them to adapt and respond to the current changing circumstances
  • The overall budget for the Open Fund for Individuals and the Open Fund for Organisations totals £7.5m of National Lottery money
  • There are separate funding strands for Individuals and Organisations, to ensure that individuals will not be in direct competition with organisations for funding.
  • The fund is open all year round, with no deadlines and can support activity for up to 12 months.

Sustaining creative practice in a changing world

Creative Scotland is committed to ensuring that people are supported to develop excellence and experimentation in a wide range of arts and creative activity, reflecting Scotland’s diverse and dynamic cultures. We want to ensure that the experience of the arts and creative activity benefits as many people as possible across Scotland’s communities and places. We have a key role in ensuring that Scotland’s creative workforce and businesses have opportunities to develop, evolve and flourish.

We have launched our Open Fund in a difficult context. The disruption of COVID-19 is a situation without precedent. The creative sector is facing significant challenge. We understand that you will be considering the impact of this emergency and its after-effects on what you do. You may be thinking about new ways of working. If you aim to reach people with your work in performance spaces, for example, you may be looking at new ways to achieve this. You may be looking at ways to stabilise your existing activity. You may be reimagining what you do, and as part of this process, you may wish to take creative risks.

This fund is designed to support you to sustain your practice in a changing world. We are asking you to tell us what you want to do, and how it will help you and/or others in the months and years to come.

Who can apply?

Funding for Individuals

Freelance and self-employed artists and creative practitioners in Scotland can apply for projects supporting the development of their practice. You may apply for funding to work with others if your practice is collaborative. You must have a UK bank account.

Funding for Organisations

This fund is for organisations and groups based in Scotland whose work or project involves the arts, screen and creative industries. All applicants must have a UK bank account.

How much can I apply for?

We can accept applications between £1,000 and £100,000. If you are applying for between £15,001 and £100,000, we will ask you to tell us more about some elements of your project or activity. You also must fill in and provide a Risk Assessment form with your application.

What is the overall budget for the fund?

We anticipate a total annual budget of around £7.5m across our Open Fund for Individuals and Open Fund for Organisations. This money comes from the National Lottery through Creative Scotland.

When can I apply?

There are no deadlines for this fund. You can apply at any time during the year. Please check that you are using the most up-to-date version of the guidance.

Please note, you can only have one application in the assessment process at any time. The assessment process means the period from submitting an application to the point when the funding decision is communicated to you.

If you have been funded by the Open Fund, you can make one additional application for a different project or activity before you complete the first project. You can only have two ‘live’ Open Fund projects at any time. If your application is unsuccessful you can reapply once with the same project – see page 17 of the guidance document for more detail.

Please note that our longer-term funding approach and priorities are currently in development. We ask that you regularly check our website for updates.

How long will it take to get a decision?

If your application request is between £1,000 and £15,000 you will hear the outcome in 8 weeks. Please note: an application seeking under £15K received on or after 11 November will hear the outcome in 10 weeks to support the Christmas break.

If your application request is between £15,001 and £100,000 you will hear the outcome in 12 weeks. Please note: an application seeking over £15K received on or after 14 October will hear the outcome in 14 weeks to support the Christmas break.

Your start date must be after the date you will hear the outcome of your application, and we strongly advise allowing an additional 5 weeks from this date. This is to ensure time to complete and exchange funding contracts, and for the first payment of the award to be made.

The impact from COVID-19 is affecting us all including Creative Scotland staff. We will aim to meet our target timescales for decision making – but where this is not possible we will let you know.

Decision-making in the context of Covid-19

Updated: August 2020

The Open Fund: Sustaining Creative Development guidelines outline risk as a key factor in our decision making. One of the key risks to creative activity is currently Covid-19 and our approach is informed by the Scottish Government guidance on this issue, which is regularly evolving.

In response to the most recent guidance from the Scottish Government (in particular the routemap and framework for decision making) and feedback from the sector, we have put in place the following approach to risk for Open Fund: Sustaining Creative Development decision making.

We will maintain and evolve this approach which, by necessity, will need to align with information on Covid-19 measures and plans from Scottish Government.

Our priority must be the safety of creative people and audiences

Whilst Creative Scotland wishes to continue to support creative and experimental practice in the arts, for legal and moral reasons, Creative Scotland cannot accept avoidable or unmanaged risk to health and safety and our funding approach will be cautious in this regard.

We perceive particular risk relating to the following areas and as a result funding applications are unlikely to succeed for:

  • presentation of work for mass physical audiences (indoor or outdoor) at any point before March 2021. This decision is based on ‘Scotland’s Routemap’ and broader guidance by the Chief Medical Officer
  • international travel during 2020. This decision is based on ‘Scotland’s Routemap’ and current guidance
  • work in care homes and hospitals during 2020. This decision is based on ‘Scotland’s Routemap’ and current guidance.


This guidance was last reviewed w/c 27 July 2020. At that point the following were removed from the list of activities unlikely to be supported at the present time:

  • presentation of indoor physical performance
  • presentation of outdoor physical performance
  • physical indoor and outdoor exhibitions
  • participatory work in schools and early-years settings
  • participatory work in other venues.

Applicants for work of this type should demonstrate that proposed activity may be carried out in compliance with social distancing, hygiene and other measures outlined in government guidelines. Risk management should be robust to address potential of changes to government guidance.

The guidance will continue to be reviewed at eight-weekly intervals or more quickly if the Scottish Government substantially changes. Reviews will be carried out in consultation with sector bodies, government and other partners.

For the avoidance of doubt, government guidance takes precedence over any statement by Creative Scotland.


Decisions on applications made to Creative Scotland are communicated within eight to twelve weeks. Decisions will be based on the most current information available, including the most recent version of this guidance. This may vary from the version available at the time of application.

Applicants are responsible for the safe delivery of their own projects and Creative Scotland’s guidance does not represent an endorsement of approaches.


The Open Fund FAQs are available as a PDF download or can be accessed through the FAQs section of the website.


Open Fund for Individuals Guidance

View and download the guide in pdf format.

Open Fund for Organisations Guidance

View and download the guide in pdf format.

Risk Assessment Guidance and Form - Over 15k

Download the Risk Assessment Guidance and Form in .docx format.

Risk Assessment Guidance and Form - Under 15k

Download the Risk Assessment Guidance and Form in .docx format.

Open Fund for Individuals Application Form

Download the Application Form in .docx format.

Open Fund for Organisations Application Form

Download the Application Form in .docx format.

Open Fund FAQs

Download the Open Fund FAQs in PDF format

How do I find out more information?

If you need more information please contact our Enquiries Service using one of the methods outlined on our Contact Us page.