INVEST participants sitting in a room during a networking session with industry professionals


Launched in 2022, INVEST is Theatre and Dance NI’s flagship artist development programme, designed to nurture and support the next generation of Northern Irish theatre and dance practitioners. With both national and international reach, INVEST aims to remove barriers to creative careers and aligns with our strategic plans, connecting artists with partners both locally, nationwide, and beyond.

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INVEST is built on extensive research and consultation with artists, freelancers, sector stakeholders and past participants, ensuring it addresses real needs and contributes to the sustainability of Northern Ireland’s cultural sector.

Since 2017, Theatre and Dance NI has gathered evidence linking the sustainability of NI’s cultural sector to the introduction of direct support for freelance artists. INVEST has been built on extensive consultation and evaluation with artists, freelancers’, sectoral stakeholders, and former participants.

The pilot programme was funded by the Foyle Foundation, Belfast City Council & & Arts Council Northern Ireland (ACNI).

Programme Highlights

Comprehensive Support: INVEST provides major bursaries to explore new creative ideas, attend training, intensive residentials and one-on-one mentoring with TDNI, partner organisations and industry experts.

Each participant is supported by a professional industry mentor who is reflective of their process and practice, to support a programme of development which is shaped around the mentees’ needs and ambitions. Previous mentors have included:

  • Pádraig Cusack (inc. War Horse, Producer, The National)
  • Dannielle Lecointe-Mosca (Choreographer, Director, Dramaturg & Creative Coach, ZooNation)
  • Lawrence Cook (Dramaturg, BBC Radio Scotland)
  • Tanya Dean (Dramaturg),
  • Tom Jackson Greeves (Theatre Royal Plymouth) – Movement Director & Associate Director
  • Sharon Clark (Akram Khan Company) – Dramaturg

 “INVEST provides an extremely rare opportunity to take a chance on a developing idea…having this pressure lifted has resulted in me being closer to considering a final work.” INVEST Participant

Networking Opportunities

Artists are connected to local, national, and international partners through INVEST training, residentials, and networking sessions that are tailored to topics identified by sector research and participants, featuring experienced contributors.

  • Our extensive and diverse partnerships enable us to create meaningful connections and collaboration opportunities for INVEST participants.
  • INVEST training, residentials, and networking sessions are tailored to topics identified by sector research and our participants, featuring experienced contributors.
  • We ensure a generous sharing environment, fostering a safe and inclusive space for all.

“INVEST has given me much-needed support to develop my creative practice, as well as training in essential areas and connections with other creatives…came away feeling so appreciative of the generosity of…’big’ names and ‘big’ organisations…all so open, honest, and genuinely wanting to help our generation of artists.” INVEST participant.

Skills Development

INVEST develops skills through curated training sessions and industry dialogue facilitated by renowned programmers and producers. Delivered both in-person and online, topics have covered:

  • Artists as Agents for Change
  • The Art of the Pitch Commissioning for Festivals and Bursaries
  • Producing Theatre & Dance
  • Internationalising Your Practice
  • Health and Wellness
  • Exploring Alternative Producing/Business Models
  • Exploring Somatic Practice and Movement

“INVEST project has been…about learning and self-discovery and…made me push myself to start thinking more…critically, more practically and systematically about how I can…be braver.” INVEST Participant

Applications are currently closed. Check here for any current opportunities.

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