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New Music Biennial Application Guidelines

Before beginning your application please read the guidelines thoroughly, or check out our New Music Biennial FAQ page. You can download a PDF version of the guidelines here.

Who can apply?

We welcome applications from any kind of organisation, including:

  • promoters
  • venues
  • ensembles
  • galleries
  • dance companies
  • voluntary groups.

However, we will prioritise applications from organisations which have some experience of commissioning new work and will be able to raise any additional funds required to realise their proposed project.

We are unable to accept applications from individuals and companies limited by shares.

Those already in receipt of PRSF funds are eligible to apply.

Any composers interested in the New Music Biennial are advised to identify a commissioning body to work with before approaching us.

What to expect in 2014

In 2014, the New Music Biennial will be presented as Scotland prepares to celebrate the Commonwealth Games. It will support up to 20 commissions which incorporate an international dimension, exploring identity and artistic collaboration in the context of the Commonwealth or beyond. The commissions will be premiered across the country between January and June 2014 before coming together in two weekend celebrations at Southbank Centre, London (4-6 July 2014 ) and in Glasgow during the Commonwealth Games (2-3 August, to be curated by Glasgow UNESCO City of Music).

What would you be applying for?

  • financial support of up to £20,000 towards the commissioning project
  • a unique opportunity to perform at two weekend events where the composers and performers will perform their commission twice and directly engage with audiences
  • some assistance with promoting performances
  • learning and networking activities which form part of the London and Glasgow weekend events
  • learning sessions related to issues of broadcast/recording rights and digital marketing

As many of the commissions as possible will also receive:

  • a broadcast on BBC Radio 3 which presents and/or contextualises your commission
  • a high quality digital release on NMC Recordings

What kinds of projects will be supported?

We will support projects which:

  • are distinctive, adventurous and will result in exceptional music
  • will be performed to the highest standard in at least three different locations, two of which must be at the scheduled performances in Glasgow and London (see above)
  • demonstrate an imaginative approach to learning, participation and the engagement of new audiences
  • demonstrate a strong international dimension*
  • are no longer than 15 minutes in length, to allow for repeat performances and flexibility
  • would make a strong contribution to the showcase weekend in Glasgow and London festival weekend at Southbank Centre.

Other considerations
Following our experience of New Music 20×12, we are particularly interested in commissions which enable composers to work with leading practitioners from other art forms and demonstrate an imaginative approach to presentation.

Applicants are also asked to consider how their commission would work as a recording in view of our partnership with NMC Recordings.

*The international dimension of your project
Applicants to the Biennial are invited to present their own interpretation of an international dimension, which could focus on the theme or concept behind the work or a collaboration with partners overseas. This might include:

  • a commission based on an international theme or idea
  • collaborations between performers/organisations/composers from different UK nations which will be classed as international partnerships
  • an ensemble/venue from the UK co-commissioning a new work by a UK-based composer with a partner from overseas
  • a commissioning body working with partners overseas to tour their commission by a UK-based composer
  • a music collective writing and/or performing with musicians from beyond the UK
  • projects that explore identity and internationalism with the wide range of different cultural communities in the UK


  • Both the lead applicant and main composer must be UK-based, although the project should demonstrate a strong international dimension
  • The new work should not exceed 15 minutes duration (as mentioned above)
  • You must be able to commit to at least three performances of the work including your premiere between January and June 2014 in a location of your choice, London’s Southbank Centre (July 4th – 6th 2014) and Glasgow (August 2nd – 3rd 2014). Any other performances can be staged in any other UK location. For each of the weekend events in Glasgow and London, the composer must be present and each work will be performed twice.
  • You may apply for up to £20,000, which should be used to cover the music creator fee, performances (including performer and production costs), travel/accommodation costs and any international work. Your budget should include a realistic estimation of the costs of performing in at least three different locations, including Glasgow and London’s Southbank Centre
  • Please note that successful applicants will not be able to apply for additional funding from any of the stakeholders already contributing to the New Music Biennial
  • Successful applicants will be asked to sign contracts with all partners (including PRSF, NMC, BBC) relating to rights for recordings, broadcasts, films and photos

Projects should also fit with the core equality principles underpinning the Glasgow 2014 Cultural Programme including:

  • an inclusive programme promoting equality through collaborations and partnerships
  • a broad approach to participation, including engaging with audiences/spectators in an exciting and inclusive way
  • the use of accessible sites and venues
  • clear information for organisers, performers and spectators

Selection process

The twenty commissions will be shortlisted by New Music Biennial partners and selected by an independent panel of assessors. Judges will consider the:

  • quality of the music proposed and the idea behind your project
  • standard to which it will be performed live
  • originality of the project and audience development plans
  • international dimension of your project.

We aim to support twelve organisations based in England, six in Scotland, one in Wales and one in Northern Ireland.

We anticipate that this will be a very competitive scheme. You will therefore need to make a strong case as to why your commissioning project should be supported.

How to apply

All applications must be completed and submitted online.

To begin an application for the first time, click here.

Once started, you can access your application by using this link.

Deadline, decision and performance dates

4 March 2013 – Applications deadline
April 2013 – 20 Successful commissions announced
Jan – Dec 2014 – Commissions are performed across the UK
4-6 July 2014 – Performances at Southbank Weekend Festival, London
2-3 August 2014 – Performances in Glasgow showcase weekend