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Centre Stage Programme information

Centre Stage is now open for applications from women performing artists living and working in Ireland.  In 2020 and 2021 successful applicants will attend a programme tailored to deliver on key career development needs:

  • Two years of training and coaching to develop a career transnationally
  • Identify and develop the skills needed for self-promotion and career management
  • Focus on personal development including self-awareness, self-confidence and resilience
  • Build relationships with Swedish, Spanish and Irish artists and promoters.

Who can apply?

Professional women artists, choreographers, directors, designers and musicians working in theatre, dance, and music.


The Centre Stage programme was developed in response to evidence from each country that women performing artists still earn less, get less funding, are under more time-pressure than their male peers, and are under-represented within publicly funded arts organisations.  It’s an initiative that looks to correct this imbalance by supporting professional women artists to further develop their careers.  It’s also about discussions and practical actions around bias and gender equality in cultural programming.

After two successful pilot workshops in Sweden arranged by Kultur i Väst, one of which was presented in collaboration with Theatre Forum, this unique format programme has been further evolved to meet the needs of professional women artists in Sweden, Spain and Ireland.

The two training experts delivering the course are Heather Maitland (UK) and Erna Sundqvist (Sweden).  Heather has several decades experience of making marketing relevant to individual artists and cultural micro businesses and of working with multinational groups.  Erna is a management development coach, trainer and adviser who takes a conscious gender perspective focusing on self-awareness, reflection, structure and strategy with a gender equality perspective.  Together, they devised this programme to change the thinking of current and future artistic leaders, and develop the links and networks of professional women artists Europe-wide to support them to put their work centre stage.


The core of the project is extended artist meetings in Spain, Ireland and Sweden in 2020 with workshops, symposia, coaching sessions and networking events.  During these meetings, the group finds out how to positively impact on their own career and influence others as well as preparing for attendance at European showcase and networking events in 2021.

There are three course meetings, each with three days of workshops as well as two travel days.  Workshops will be delivered in English with interpreters and the project partners supporting participants in every session.  These workshops are based on participants’ own work as an active artist and their own promotional material.  Throughout, artist participants will work together to analyse, reflect and change.  Together with the programme’s experts, they will ask some difficult questions, use gender-awareness to examine power structures in the cultural sector as well as working together to increase participants’ self-awareness and to find answers.

Key dates

13-17 January 2020, Malaga, Spain
Workshop 1: Developing my professional goals
Participants will ask themselves these questions:  What do you want?  What are the blocks that prevent you developing in your profession?  What have you already got?  What do you want to keep or change?  How to work with existing power structures to develop, control and communicate your professional persona?

18-22 May 2020, Galway, Ireland
Workshop 2: Self-awareness for artistic leadership
Participants will explore aspects of gender equality: Artistic leadership in a patriarchal world: developing self-awareness about the context in which you make work and your own artistic leadership, becoming more comfortable with power, handling resistance. Persuading others: getting noticed, getting funding, engaging and persuading audiences.

23-27 November 2020, Kungälv, Sweden
Workshop 3: Meeting the world
Participants will develop their expertise: Effective communication online and offline.  Dealing with difficult people and managing conflict.  Ways of working that make you more productive.  Presenting yourself internationally.

Showcase and networking events
Spring 2021
Attendance at European showcase and networking events including IETM, WOMEX and Aerowaves’ Spring Forward

Across the workshops, artists will gain valuable skills:

  • Identify the tasks to prioritise in order to achieve career goals in the limited time available
  • Develop skills and knowledge around self-promotion focusing on quick fixes that can be set up in less than two hours and maintained effectively by investing just half an hour each week. This includes copywriting, images, websites, social media, leaflets and posters, emails, videos and trailers, getting media coverage
  • Develop national and international networks by building relationships with artists, promoters, programmers and venue managers
  • Create personal action plans to make things happen.


What previous participants say

Participants in the Swedish pilot workshops describe its benefits:“It was hugely beneficial to my professional life. I have never done a course that focuses on the administrative and marketing side of being an independent artist.  I am really noticing the impact of patriarchy in my daily working life and have never had a chance to work with other women artists on how to negotiate it.”

“Best was the combination of deeper societal and psychological issues and the nuts and bolts practicalities of working as an artist.  I think these two are so intertwined, but I know of no other course where you get to work at both those levels together.”


Travel and subsistence

All the costs for artists travelling to workshops and networking events, including flights, bus transfers and train travel, are arranged and paid for by for the project partners.  When travelling to and attending workshop and events, accommodation and meals are arranged and paid for by the project partners. Accommodation and venues for workshops are accessible ones.


Artists offered a Centre Stage place make a one-off €100 payment to secure their place.  The project partners require a commitment from the artists offered places that they are available and able to attend all the planned workshops and showcase events in 2020 and 2021.


To apply, use the Centre Stage online application form only.  It consists of two parts. In the first part, applicants are asked to provide personal details and upload a CV and in the second part, to describe their work and motivation to undertake the programme.

Selection criteria

A panel of three people, comprised of two people from the partner organisations along with another with a gender equality perspective, will select the eight artist participants based on the following criteria.

  • Applicant’s artistic output to date including career stage and depth of experience
  • Artistic ethos and ambition of the artist to develop their own career
  • Benefits that participating in the programme offers the artist
  • Applicant has campaigned for gender equality
  • The group dynamic, including a mix of artforms and variety of ages.

Key dates

Friday 4 October Applications close at 5pm

Friday 11 October Selected artists offered places

Wednesday 30 October Artist participants announced.

Carefully note the closing date and time as late applications won’t be accepted.


The Partners

Kultur i Väst in Sweden http://www.kulturivast.se
La Escuela Pública de Formación Cultural de Andalucía (AAIICC) in Spain
Theatre Forum in Ireland www.theatreforum.ie

Any questions?
Email any questions to info@theatreforum.ie or call Anna or Irma +353 (0)1 6778779.