Please note that the old applications system has now closed. All applications must now be made using our new system and you will need to register an account with our new provider. We strongly recommend that you read this short document before beginning an application.
- What can I expect to be asked in the application form?
- What is covered by the funding?
- How much can I apply for?
- Will I need a visa?
- Can the funding cover my manager and/or crew?
- Will funding cover the whole cost of my trip?
- Are artists based outside of England able to apply?
- Funding deadlines
- How often can I apply for and/or receive ISF support?
- I have read the guidelines and would like to apply. What do I do next?
This is a very competitive scheme, and currently only 20% of applicants are awarded funding. You will therefore need to make the strongest possible case as to why you should be supported. Artists need to be export ready. You will need to have concrete plans of what you are going to do when you get to the showcasing festival, such as:
- knowing who you intend to meet with (specific names of people are better than just the companies they represent)
- how you are going to promote yourself before and whilst there
- stipulating any pre-existing relationships you might have in the country of the event (i.e. music industry executives that specifically want to see your band at the event)
The International Showcase Fund can contribute towards the cost of:
- travel – flights and airport transfers
- accommodation and hotels
- visas (where applicable)
- per diems
The amount offered by funding is up to 75% of the total cost – or:
- up to £1,500 for a solo artist
- £2,500 for a duo
- £3,500 for a trio
- up to £4,500 for a four+ member band.
For performing at any showcase festival in the US – such as SXSW – all UK acts must get an appropriate visa. It is your responsibility to process visas and to fully research options as there have been occurrences of musicians being turned away with devastating consequences.
However, following discussions between the Musicians’ Union, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, British Underground, SXSW and others, the received information is that provided you are performing for no fee at official showcases and for purely promotional purposes only, you should be able to enter the U.S. under an ESTA – however after recent reports of artists / bands having their Esta’s revoked unaccountably by the US authorities days before travel we can no longer recommend using ESTA to enter the US to perform at any music showcasing event. We are currently advising people to apply for a B1/B2 visa or, if performing outside the permitted showcase exception, a P or O visa. The B Visa is less costly and time consuming than the O or the P visa.
For information on the ESTA Visa Waiver Programme and / or the B1/B2 visa, please see the latest guidance from the Musicians’ Union and British Underground which includes an advice document to assist the process.
There are advantages to entering the US with on a work visa (e.g. you can play paid shows and unofficial showcases and can take advantage of more opportunities). We therefore recommend researching this process. For information on obtaining work visas for US showcase events, please go to the Tamizdat or Traffic Control Group websites.
We advise applying for work visas at least three months ahead of a US showcase event in order to save money. It is possible to apply closer to the event but costs increase significantly.
You can also apply for up to £500 towards the cost of a manager to accompany you.
We regret that we can not cover costs for tour managers or members of crew except if an artist’s disability or accessibility requirements warrant additional support. If this is the case, please include costs in your application.
You will be expected to finance at least 25% of costs of the trip yourself or from other sources. Please be aware that we are not always able to fund you to the full amount that you have requested. Therefore, when budgeting for your trip, please take into account that you might not receive the full 75% that you have applied for.
The ISF partnership with PledgeMusic allows applicants to opt-in to receiving additional help and support from the PledgeMusic team which can be used as match funding for the artist’s international showcase fund project.
When allocating funding we seek out the cost of the cheapest possible flights, transfers and accomodation options at the time of decision and use these as bechmarks when assessing budgets laid out in applications.
Creative Scotland and Wales Arts International (and Arts Council Wales) are partners on the International Showcase Fund. Artists, bands and songwriters based in England, Scotland or Wales can apply for support for any international showcasing event.
The International Showcase Fund has rolling deadlines due to varying event organiser schedules.
We recommend you apply for funding soon after being invited to showcase in order to give our panel of industry experts and partners enough time to consider your application to turnaround a decision as quickly as possible.
As a rough guide, our experts consider applications 2-3 months before showcase events take place. While the processing of visas is entirely your responsibility, it can take 3 months for some territories. For this reason, we prefer to receive applications 10-12 weeks prior to the event taking place and must receive applications at least 8 weeks prior to the event taking place*.
Under certain circumstances (e.g. change of management, a late invite from the event, the artist’s ability to fulfil funding partners’ diversity goals) applicants can submit an Exceptional Circumstances Form for partners to consider time sensitive applications within 8 weeks of an event taking place. To do so, please download and complete this form before emailing email@example.com.
The International Showcase Fund is designed to support an applicant’s first or crucial steps into international territories. As such, we recommend applying for support for the most suitable events and territories for your career level. Because music creators must be invited officially before applying for ISF support, there is no limit on the number of ISF applications you can make per calendar year.
We also accept applications from previous ISF grantees. However, please note that ISF partners may prioritise those not funded previously and it is less likely that you will be supported for two events in the same territory.
Please apply when:
- You are confident that you are export ready
- You have been invited to showcase at an international showcasing event
- Music industry figures are hungry to see you play
If all of the above points apply to you, then click here.
If you have already started your application, or if you would like to login to complete your evaluation, please click here.
Please note, new applicants and non-funded artists will be prioritised.
If you have any queries, please email firstname.lastname@example.org