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The Open Fund: Criteria

The Open Fund and Women Make Music Criteria

The Open Fund and Women Make Music are available to any music creator or not-for-profit organisation whose project or programme fits with all three of our funding priorities:

  1. To support the creation, performance and promotion of outstanding new music in any genre
    We are particularly interested in the quality of the music
  2. To enable the UK’s most talented music creators to realise their potential
    We are interested in how your project will develop the songwriters and composers involved. We are committed to supporting UK based songwriters and composers of all backgrounds
  3. To inspire audiences
    You will be asked to outline who you are reaching and how. This includes audiences at a local, regional, national or international level

What changes have been made to the Open Fund and Women Make Music for 2021
Applicants with Access Requirements
Application Advice
Contacting Us

What is a music creator

The following are considered by PRS Foundation to be Music Creators:

  • songwriters,
  • composers, or
  • artists, bands, producers and performers who are writing their own music or commissioning other songwriters or composers

Activities we can support:

  • projects involving the creation, performance or promotion of new music by living, UK-based music creators (e.g. a commission, residency, education project or tour)
  • recording costs
  • programmes that strongly feature or are based around new music (e.g. promoting a series of live events featuring outstanding new music, the new music component of a festival programme, artist/composer/talent development programme or multiple commissions)
  • equipment/rehearsal space hire if it is an essential part of the project
  • administrative costs (e.g. time spent organising the project, letters, printing, stamps)
  • development time (e.g. the time it will take the music creator to work on the new material)
  • Music Creator fee (to cover your time and work)
  • promotional activity/PR costs relating directly to your development as a music creator/the project
  • website creation (only if crucial to the promotion of the project)
  • music videos when part of wider project activity
  • musician fees (we will not fund a project if you do not pay your musicians)
  • international activities when part of majority-UK based project (restricted to 30% of grants request)
  • contingency (up to 10% of the total project budget)
  • concerts, record launches, gigs, tours, installations, festivals and promoters which feature a significant programme of new UK music.

In response to changing music creator needs we will now consider support for the following, all on a case by case basis:

  • Funding for live broadcasted or pre recorded online performances through streaming services if this adheres to social distancing rules and is within Government guidance at the time.
  • Funding for promotion and marketing that does not involve a live performance, with the condition that a live performance is planned for a later date
  • Funding for writing and creation that does not involve a live performance, under the caveat that a live performance (or an online alternative) is planned in the future.
  • Due to the current situation we are relaxing our guidance and will allow applicants to apply for equipment of up to 20% of their project budget, however this will be assessed on a case by case basis.
  • Music Creator Time / Music Creator Fees – we always encourage applicants to include music creator fees for creation and expect during the pandemic that more applicants will include fees for their own time and work. This might help you to cover or contribute to the time you put into the creation of new music, to cover professional losses or costs relating to working from home.^
  • ^Because there is no music sector-wide standard, we are unable to offer guidance on a suitable daily or hourly rate for music creator fees. However, we encourage you to ensure a fair proportion of your costs are allocated to music creator fees where possible. PRS Foundation staff will ensure that our external advisors approach decisions in a consistent way across all genres, challenging the ‘norm’ that Contemporary Classical applicants receive music creator fees and those working in other genres do not.

What changes have been made to the Open Fund and Women Make Music for 2020?

The Open Fund and Women Make Music are now a one-stage application process instead of two, this means that you will be asked to provide details about the project, how it will benefit the creators involved, the activity timeline and a balanced budget in one application form.

Having received positive feedback from a more diverse range of applicants to video-based applications we are giving Music Creator and Women Make Music applicants the option to choose between written answers OR a video submission to decisive questions. *

While the application form may seem longer, we’ve broken down the decisive questions into individual questions so that you have more space (written) to adequately answer the questions and we’ll be launching new video application guidance this year to further support applicants through the application process.

*Please ensure that your video is accessible for at least three months from the deadline date as we cannot accept responsibility for your video link being inaccessible and you will not receive support. 

What are the pros and cons of written and video submissions?

Both written and video submissions have their pros and cons, video applications can enable applicants who are less confident in writing applications in answering the questions in the application form and vice versa, we will work with our Grants Team and advisors to mitigate unconscious bias through video submissions however, we would recommend those who are worried about this specifically to submit a written application.  Please speak to a member of the Grants Team should you wish to discuss this further.

Applicants with access requirements

We recognise that for disabled music creators with access requirements, some proposed activity which supports music creator development (e.g. live performance, touring, access to studios) incurs additional costs, meaning that applicants may require grant support of more than £5,000.

Music creators with access requirements are advised that:
– Applicants should submit Total Project Budget and Request Amounts that do not consider additional access costs.
– In the budget section, please outline non-accessibility related expenditure and income. An additional budget question allows applicants to detail additional access requirements needs which will be considered by management team and will therefore not be seen or considered by external advisors unless mentioned in main Funding Priority responses.

Funding decisions will not be affected by additional accessibility support requests and if selected, an appropriate offer amount will be pledged.

We can’t support:

  • projects that contain no element of live performance or creation. Although we can support marketing and promotional costs, we require there to be elements of creation and/or performance
  • technology projects (unless they contain a significant aspect of new music creation)
  • the purchase of vans and cars
  • bursaries, tuition/education costs, or scholarships
  • capital projects (e.g. building work)
  • any project raising funds for another charity
  • buying equipment
  • building a studio
  • organisations or projects that have been running for less than 18 months
  • music creators who do not have a track record of 18 months or more
  • retrospective activity (i.e. projects that have already taken place)
  • activity that falls before our decision date (check our application stages and deadlines when you are applying)
  • organisations based outside the UK
  • music creators based outside of the UK – projects can involve international music creators but such costs must clearly be covered elsewhere and we prioritise UK-based creators
  • British music creators no longer permanently resident in the UK
  • composers and songwriters who are members of other performance rights collection societies
  • international tours/international activity unless part of a majority-UK based project (see below)
  • radio stations/broadcasting costs
  • start-up companies or record labels
  • a roster of artists on a record label or management company
  • living costs and salary costs, as outlined in FAQs
  • core funding

Companies limited by shares will be considered on a case by case basis (see below).

Who can apply?


  • organisations that are limited by guarantee and/or a registered Charity
  • music creators or their representatives
  • individuals and sole traders
  • CIC organisations
  • non-music organisations including local authorities, museums, etc.

Ineligible applicants:

  • individuals in full-time education, unless an exception is made by the Grants Team
  • under 18s, unless represented by an adult with a valid DBS check
  • those resident outside of the UK
  • those without a track record of more than 18 months
  • projects where the lead composer/songwriter is a member of another Performance Rights Organisation (i.e. UK based music creator must either be a member of PRS or should be in a position to join)
  • companies limited by shares (although considered on a case-by-case basis – see below)

Can I apply if I’m a company limited by shares?

The Open Fund is not designed to support organisations that share out profits to members or shareholders, unless the activity you are applying for is a self-contained arts project and has a clear benefit to the audience. As a result, we prioritise not-for-profit organisations and tend not to support organisations limited by shares. If you are an organisation limited by shares but there’s a clear funding need for a project that is not profitable, you may be able to apply and should speak with our Grants Team ahead of an application by emailing

Can I apply for international activity?

Applicants to The Open Fund for Music Creators, The Open Fund for Organisations and Women Make Music may include international activity where:

  • International activity is essentialto the applicant’s project and music creator development
  • The requested support costs of international activity make up no more than 30% of PRS Foundation’s grant (e.g. up to £1,500 of a £5,000 grant can go towards international activity)
  • The applicant can demonstrate clear demandfor new music and/or performances overseas
  • The applicant can demonstrate significant audience grown and/or significant showcasing of new music as a result of international activity
  • The applicant must show a clear need for fundingof international activity

We will prioritise touring and composer travel costs, with secondary priorities of songwriting camps and residencies and recording overseas.

We are unable to offer the following:

  • comments or advice on your music
  • advice on signing to a label or how to organise tours/projects
  • advice on gigs/venues
  • advice on promoting your music, unless it has been directly funded by PRS Foundation
  • application form checking, prior to submission (however, you can email us with specific questions)

Please note that we are not able to accept hard copies of applications. All applications must be completed online (please email us if you consider yourself to have a disability which could prevent you from completing the online application)

PRS for Music Membership

If applying to The Open Fund for Music Creators (or Women Make Music), we will ask if the music creators involved are already PRS for Music members. Our decision will not be affected if you are not yet a member of PRS for Music but grantees will be signposted to PRS for Music to ensure they are maximising collection society income opportunities.

If you are applying to The Open Fund for Organisations and activities include events, to ensure the writers and publishers of the musical works are paid correctly, your event will need to be licensed appropriately by PRS for Music. If you are unsure whether the correct licence is in place, please contact PRS on 020 3741 3622 and they will be happy to confirm or support you through the licensing process.

Multiple applications

Due to high levels of demand for our funding schemes, we can only accept one application per calendar year to The Open Fund and one per calendar year to Women Make Music*.

Organisations are restricted to receiving one grant per calendar year with the exception of our UK commissioning programmes Beyond Borders and New Music Biennial. For example, an organisation funded through The Open Fund for Organisations may apply for and receive support for Beyond Borders.

Music creators are also restricted to receiving one grant per calendar year.

We advise individual composers, artists, bands and other music creators to choose the most appropriate funding scheme between The Open Fund for Music Creators and our targeted support schemes such as Women Make Music, The International Showcase Fund, The Hitmaker Fund or Momentum.

Contact Us

Please contact the team if you are unsure which funding scheme is most appropriate.

*Please click here for guidance on the limits to the number of applications you can submit per calendar year.

If you have any concerns about eligibility, please email us.
Do you still have some questions? See our Frequently Asked Questions page.