Supported Artists

Artist Imagination Fund

The Big Imaginations Artist Imagination Fund is open to all artists and companies developing or creating performances for children and their families in the Big Imaginations catchment area. Applicants should be based in or able to work in a location close to a Big Imaginations organisation (list of organisations and locations can be found here).



Applicants are able to apply for between £1k and £5k to support the creation, development or R&D for live performance that seeks to work with or be presented for children between 0-11 years old. Big Imaginations is particularly interested in work by diverse artists for diverse audiences and would therefore love to know how you have considered the diversity of your project in your application.



Artists selected will be supported for 18 months as a cohort with additional support of training and development opportunities. Additionally, artists will have access to extra services and support from their host Big Imaginations organisation, which could include access to space, support on funding applications and mentoring from core team members.







Current Supported Artists:


Top Left: Ayesha Fazal (Move Manchester), Top Right: Alicia McKenzie, Bottom Left: Gemma Bond, Bottom Right: Josh Hawkins and Natalie Morrell (Hawk Dance Theatre & The Knotted Project)



Their Projects:


Ayesha Fazal (Move Manchester):
“Lilo Lost It” – An interactive contemporary dance performance, specifically designed for children.


Alicia McKenzie:
Alicia’s Amazing Adventure to find the First Black Britons” – An interactive, theatrical storytelling that traverses time and space, bringing bold historical characters to life.


Gemma Bond:
“Pirate Princess” – A story of hope against adversity inspired by strong and inventive women of history.


Josh Hawkins and Natalie Morrell (Hawk Dance Theatre & The Knotted Project):
“The Greatest Robot Ever” – An interactive dance theatre show, perfect for children 3-10 years and their grownups.




Previous Supported Artists

Teatro Pomodoro 

  • Supported 2022 – 2023 

Supported by Unity Theatre and Theatre Porto

Through a collaboration with Theatre Porto, they recently started working on their first family-friendly co-production. They will be using this funding and the support of the Unity Theatre to extend the collaboration with Theatre Porto’s director Nina Hajiyianni to adapt their show ‘Sirens, Men and Crabs’ for an audience of children.

In this way, they can expand their audience reach and offer to venues in the North, and beyond, a package with two different versions of the show that can be programmed in two different times during the day, using the same set and making it more financially viable for touring and for programming.  

Chad Taylor 

  • Supported 2022 – 2023 

Supported by Z-arts and Wonder Arts 

In 2022 he created short film called ‘When I Hear Music’, a hip-hop dance film production using animation that explores the emotional rollercoaster that young people experience during their first day at high school. 

This funding will help transform When I Hear Music into a site specific, promenade piece of hip hop dance telling a story across different rooms and spaces in a school.

‘I am extremely grateful and happy to be receiving this funding as it will help me to fully explore the pre production phase of When I Hear Music and help explore on a wider scope for the piece of work that would not have happened without this funding.’  

Sarah Richardson – Filament Projects CIC 

  • Supported 2022 – 2023 

Supported by The Dukes 

They will be using the funding to research their next project, PLANT (working title), an interactive performance for EYFS children. PLANT will celebrate difference through inviting children to look after a Wes Anderson-esk plant hospital.
They will spend time in schools playing, creating and talking with young children – helping them to better understand their needs (especially in light of the pandemic and its impact on this particular age group’s development) and how they might creatively respond to them. It will give them valuable time to work with a designer and explore their dream of PLANT having a live/green set as we start to embed the Theatre Green Book into their practice. 

“Filament Projects are thrilled to be part of this exciting cohort of artists. Despite the uncertain times we are all living in, Z-arts and the Big Imaginations partners continue to support and invest in independent artists and small organisations. We really value this support. It will help us kickstart our next project for early years children, a group whose learning and development was severely impacted by the pandemic.” 

Eggs Collective

  • Supported 2022 – 2023

Supported by Wonder Arts 

Currently in an ACE funded R&D period for their first full length show for families. The project centres around getting ready for a party, and is supported by Z-Arts, Wonder Arts, Heart of Glass and Slunglow. As with all their live work, the show will mix pop culture references, a DIY aesthetic, devising, writing and music. They want it to have all the anarchy and fun of alt-cabaret, with interactive “extra live” moments that invite the audience in.   

They will be using the funding from Big Imaginations to contribute to the development of this new project from R&D stage to getting ready for a national tour which includes excellent wrap-around activity.  


Art with Heart

  • Supported 2022 – 2023

Supported by The Dukes and Spot On Lancashire

Art with Heart is an award-winning Salford based arts company that designs and delivers performances, workshops and people-led creative projects for community groups, arts organisations and schools across the UK.  

They will be developing a new environmental project in collaboration with Lancashire Wildlife Trust youth groups looking at the duality and importance of being in nature and taking care of our environment.


Ria Meera Munshi

  • Supported 2022 – 2023

Supported by Z-arts and Oldham Libraries

With this funding, her fresh concept entitled “The Magic Stick”, inspired by the traditional Indian Folk tale of “The Drum”, will be adapted as a dance theatre piece for a modern audience. A tale of karma, detachment and kindness.

“I am simply overjoyed to have received the Artist Imagination Fund for my new concept, entitled The Magic Stick. This support is integral for the development of both myself, as an artist, the company, Ri Ri’s Dance Academy, and for the development of the storyline for this Indian-inspired children’s theatre production” 



Blah Blah Blahs  

  • Supported 2021 – 2022

Supported by Spot On Lancashire 

The Blahs have used the funding and connections from being a Big Imaginations supported artist to run participatory storytelling sessions for family groups in four community libraries across Lancashire.

The sessions have enabled the Blahs to test material that is currently being explored by the company for a new, small scale touring show for children aged 5 years + and their families, to inform an upcoming R&D process.  The show deals with themes of food poverty, displacement and social isolation, growing and green spaces, centering on the blossoming friendship between a man and boy as they spend time together in an urban garden that the man has created.  


Rory Aaron & Audrey Albert  

  • Supported 2021 – 2022

Supported by Z-arts 

This collaboration of spoken word artist, Rory and visual artist, Audrey used the funds and space at Z-arts to develop their idea of an immersive piece combining poetry and visual art, speaking about the impact of plastic pollution on small nation islands.  

During their RnD period, they created an immersive gallery piece of 12 stations that takes the audience from the depth of the ocean up to the shorelines of the Mascarene Islands, forging empathy for the ocean and the communities who rely on it. 

Oliver Sykes  

  • Supported 2021 – 2022

Supported by Z-arts, Wild Rumpus and Touchstones

Oli held an RnD period for his new show, Fishing For Rainbows which he will also be publishing as a novel.  

Considering this shows connection to water, Wild Rumpus helped Oli to explore outdoor performance practices.  

Oli has a long-standing relationship with Big Imaginations and has previously toured his show, Alfie’s First Fight to many of our member organisations.  

Ria Meera Munshi  

  • Supported 2021 – 2022

Supported by Z-arts & Horse & Bamboo

Partnered with Z-arts and Horse & Bamboo, Ria used the funding to work with a dramaturg to develop a new children’s dance show, The Dancing Elephant. She also used the fund for desk work – including research and speaking to her family about indian mythology.  

Ria has gone on to secure ACE funding and will be carrying out an RnD and tour through-out the Big Imaginations network in 2023.  

Dora & Jane

  • Supported 2021 – 2022

Supported by Wonder Arts 

Mother and Daughter Aerialist duo, Dora and Jane, were partnered with Big Imaginations member, Wonder Arts to deliver acrobatic and drama workshops, as research for their new circus piece for families, ‘Hold Your Own’. They held an RnD and a sharing of this work in St Helen’s.  

Art with Heart  

  • Supported 2020 – 2021

Art With Heart are a Manchester company who made a big success with their last show, an autobiographical story about living with ADHD. 

We supported them with the development of their new show, STAN, through a week’s R&D (Research & Development). STAN is about a friendship between a deaf girl and a hearing boy who is having problems at home. STAN is going to be Z-arts’ main commission for 2021/ 2022.

“Z-arts and Big Imaginations have been incredibly supportive of our work from wellbeing events, theatre performances to creative participatory activities – they’ve supported us not only to make new work but helped us improve it for the audiences and young people we work with.” 

Chad Taylor   

Chad is a Manchester dance artist, who used to come to dance classes at Z-arts in his youth. Chad creates work that is exciting for a young audience.  

“Working with Z-arts & Big Imaginations has been a great experience. The support has been great from creative support to supplying the project with staff and space.”

Chrissy Jones / Proud and Loud  

Chrissy is an artist supported by Proud and Loud. Z-arts and Big Imaginations have supported Chrissy to have a process that lets her identify, meet and interview a selection of writers so she can get the perfect writer for her project. 

We are delighted to be supporting this process as it will allow her to meet a selection of writers and give Chrissy the agency over her own process. 

Daniel Bye  

Dan is supported through our Big Imaginations Artists Imagination Fund. He is starting to develop a new piece called So Unfair.  

“Z-arts and Big Imaginations are a dream organisation for an artist to work with. They’re incredibly generous, supportive and back you completely. I’m enormously proud of the ongoing work with them and incredibly excited about what it’ll turn into.”

Filament Theatre  

Filament are supported through our Big Imaginations Artist Imagination Fund. 

“The R&D funding we received from Big Imaginations not only helped us to get a project we were passionate about off the ground it also made us feel trusted and respected as artists. Securing R&D funding can be tricky. As artists you know that keeping your creative process open to new ideas and stories will result in a more authentic and interesting project, yet often funders need to know about specific outcomes. Big Imaginations trusted us as artists to know how best to use the creative time their funding afforded us in order to serve our ideas and our participant’s ideas and needs.” 

Hina Qureshi   

An emerging artist who wants to develop an interactive storytelling piece. Big Imaginations and The Boo are supporting her to take those next steps.  


“Big Imaginations has helped me to continue my journey as it would have been difficult in current circumstances to get funds for my production. The continuity of support that I received from Big Imaginations has allowed me to carry on the vital work of sharing muslim stories to the audiences which is a far reaching and influential work to be carried forward. Thank you for this amazing opportunity, it has open up a pathway for me to share and connect with so many people.”

Ros Norford  

Ros is an artist that we supported in different ways for some time now, through both participation and now programming and artist development. 

We supported through all of lockdown with some commissioning money and mentoring support. We supported alongside STUN the first R&D phase for Aleiah’s Adventure. 

Ros has now been successful with ACE funding and we are supporting her with the creative team and shaping of the project.  

“Working with Z-arts and Big Imaginations has been a huge help for me in becoming the artist I want to be. Their support has enabled me to learn so much as they’ve challenged me to take my work to the next level by connecting me to some brilliant opportunities.”

Sudha Bhuchar  

Big Imaginations was a key partner for Bhuchar Boulevard’s revival of  Child of the Divide, which marked the 70th anniversary of the partition of India and launched the company. 

“I felt anchored and supported by their collaborative approach which permeated all aspects of the project and enabled the show to be at the heart of the Big Imaginations festival that year and tour to all the consortium venues.  From investing money and resources, Liz O’Neill and her team were passionate about the play and found so many other ways to elevate the work- through engaging schools in their own response pieces, commissioning the education resource pack to their warm hospitality for the company. Z-arts has continued to support me as an artist and care about my future journey through seed support for my next family project, Sita Brahmachari’s award winning debut novel Artichoke Hearts. For a freelance artist like me, that gives much needed hope at this difficult time.”