Without Walls, the UK’s largest commissioner of outdoor art shows, has revealed its efforts to fund new work across the UK and beyond.

Without Walls’ work has been recognised by Arts Council England, receiving the largest new National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) funding award for 2018 – 2022. This funding allows the consortium to continue its fantastic work in outdoor arts, planning projects on a longer-term basis and enabling continued commissioning of thrilling outdoor work, reaching audiences at free festivals across the country.

This enhanced commissioning investment is supporting the creation of 13 new outdoor performances, which in 2018, will tour to eight leading outdoor arts festivals across the UK and reach tens of thousands of audiences.

As part of an expanded portfolio of work made possible through the NPO funding, Without Walls announces the NEW ‘Blueprint’ Research and Development (R&D) Investment Fund with 21 awards to artists to explore early ideas for bold, innovative and ambitious new outdoor works, with the aim that they will be completed in 2019 or 2020. ‘Blueprint’ signals the start of a four-year rolling programme to support innovative artistic development across the outdoor arts sector, fuelling artistic and strategic development, as well as reaching vast audiences through wide touring.

Without Walls’ Blueprint projects span multiple art forms including circus, contemporary dance, digital art, sound installations, music, puppetry, sculpture, and theatre.

The 21 artists and companies come from across the country and were selected from 120 applications; they include; experimental acrobatic circus ensemble Barely Methodical Troupe; Manchester-based Melanie Wilson, an award-winning multi-disciplinary artist with work underpinned by strong political interest; Oxford based Radio 3 presenter and founding member of Oily Cart Max Reinhardt with a collective of artists; and a collective of electronic sound artists including Scanner (Robin Rimbaud), Kathy Hinde and Mike Blow.

Josephine Burns, chair of Without Walls said “Artistic experimentation is key to the development of truly great art, and Without Walls Blueprint R&D investment offers artists the opportunity to explore new ideas at an early stage of the creative process. As we celebrate over 10 years of success, these Blueprint R&D projects signal our investment in the next decade, made possible by the significant support of Arts Council England.”

Alison Clark, director, Combined Arts and Manchester Arts Council England added: “The progression of innovative new projects for outdoor arts is crucial to ensuring that the work continues to excite audiences and it’s great to see such a broad range of artists developing ideas to do this. This long term investment in R&D is a good example of how our NPO funding benefits the whole sector by allowing organisations in the portfolio the time and resources to expand and advance their thinking and ideas.”

Davina Drummond from the ArtsAdmin produced duo Yara-El Sharbini and Davina Drummond said: “To have this Blueprint investment from Without Walls feels like a dream come true as it allows us to really spend our time to develop this project …. Without this funding, the project would not happen.”

Melanie Wilson, Manchester – based artist said: “What’s really great about Without Walls Blueprint R&D investment is that it is very inclusive of people and very encouraging of people who have never touched outdoor work.”

Without Walls Announce Blueprint: Research and Development Commissions 2018


Barely Methodical Troupe – No Regrets (Working Title): (Circus, Contemporary Dance) (London) www.barelymethodicaltroupe.com

Experimental acrobatic circus ensemble, Without Walls Blueprint investment supports the development of a new piece that will follow on from hit shows Bromance and Kin. This extraordinary new piece will be particularly suitable for seaside towns.

Flintlock Theatre – Last Words: (Street Theatre, Audio Installation) (Eastham, Oxon, South East)


An interactive street theatre performance inspired by the tradition of commemorating ordinary lives with memorial benches.

Frolicked – #Apartment: (Object puppetry, live feed film, projection) (Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire)


A live-feed film glimpse into ‘normality, engineered by puppeteer and audience; projected onto a miniature of an existing building in a bustling UK city.

Joli Vyann – Timeless (Working Title): (Contemporary dance, Circus, Physical Theatre) (Hampshire)


A duo of highly skilled acrobatic performers including a 360-degree hourglass 6 – 7m high structure in which they will perform within and out-with sand flowing through the duration of the show, representing gravity and symbolising the eternal passage of time, reminding us that life is finite.

Initiative.dkf – Scalped: (Physical theatre and dance) (Greater London)


A physical theatre and dance exhibition piece. Transparent telephone boxes of different nations and times showcase perform outbursts of Black women’s hair in western society. A homage to Grace Jones and life as a fashion show

Matthew Rosier – Autonomous Vehicles (AVs): (Street Installation) (London)


An autonomous vehicle (also known as driverless, self-driving robotic) is an unmanned ground vehicle that is capable of sensing its environment and navigating without human input. Blueprint investment supports the exploration of an interactive street-based artwork that can engage an audience the debate about the impact of these vehicles in public space.

Max Reinhardt and Jamie Linwood in collaboration with Tina Koch and Charlotte Mooney (Ockham’s Razor) and produced by OCM (Oxford Contemporary Music) – Embaire Village: (Music, Dance, Circus) (Oxford)

www.ocmevents.org  https://vimeo.com/153756059

A communal and visceral musical adventure with D/deaf children, musicians, non-musicians, trained dancers and acrobats and people who imagine they can’t do any of this – working with the D/deaf and the hearing during school days and festival days. Max Reinhardt – BBC Radio 3 presenter and Musical Director and founding member of Oily Cart – has many years of experience working with neurologically diverse young people and this piece will be created with and by D/ deaf children and participants.

Melanie WilsonMachine Icon Monument (Working Title): (Dance, theatre, music, installation art, sculpture) (Manchester)


Critically acclaimed artist Melanie Wilson is working with architects Hawkins Brown: Tess Martin; Krystel Roussel & Abigail Dixon and a female performance ensemble to create a large-scale installation for public spaces. Addressing themes of political will, social change and transformation, and combining dance, song, music and film.

Mischief La-BasHer Abode – An Account of the Triumphs and Misadventures of Lillian: (Interactive performance, animation, literature, and kinetic sculpture) (Glasgow, Scotland)


An animated storybook, world based on the true-life stories of incredible women. Imagine an unprepossessing horsebox that was once somebody’s abode, left stranded on a street. The horsebox contains peepholes and then opens out to reveal an absent person’s tiny, secret home of fascinating secrets inspired by inspirational women authors. Including a collaboration with one of Scotland’s most renowned playwright David Leddy.

Mufti Games – Ferguson’s Gang vs The Octopus: (Theatre and digital) (Bristol) www.muftigames.com

Fergusons Gang vs The Octopus will explore avenues of protest within the current housing crisis, taking inspiration from ‘Ferguson’s Gang’ (FG)- a group of female activists who in the 1930’s disguised themselves as ‘benevolent gangsters’, organised campaign stunts and significantly raised the funds and profile of the National Trust.

Newtons Ladder Aerial Dance – Hope is the thing with Feathers: (Aerial Dance) (Newcastle Upon Tyne) www.newtonsladder.com

An aerial dance duet, a story of commitment, strength, fight and flight and most of all hope. A collaboration between Newtons Ladder Aerial Dance and nationally renowned choreographer and director Liv Lorent (balletLORENT) which brings together different expertise, skills, experience and approaches to creating aerial narratives. 

Periplum – Da Vinci (Visual Theatre Performance) (Brighton)


A new mid-scale evening performance inspired by Leonardo da Vinci marking 500 years since his death. Da Vinci was an artist, architect, musician, engineer, scientist, and inventor, drawing plans for the first parachute, first helicopter, first aeroplane, first tank, repeating rifle, swinging bridge and motor car. His inventions both inspired the world for years to come and were used as a destructive force. This paradox is the company’s starting point for creation.

Ray Lee – Congregation (Sound Art Theatre) (Oxfordshire)


The audience are each given a silver sphere, that guides them to a secret location by emitting sounds. The mass of ‘singing’ spheres will create a humming electronic web of sound that will attract and engage thousands of passers-by in a processional, science fiction ceremony.

Democratic Electronic Music – a collective including Kathy Hinde, Mike Blow, Scanner (Robin Rimbaud), Matt Olden, John Richards, R10 Collective, Matthew Emmett & Oxford Contemporary Music (Sound, interactive, installation, sculpture) (Leicester) www.evolutionaryart.co.uk www.ocmevents.org

Democratic Electronic Music includes a hugely exciting group of high profile artists, with shared interests in sound, outreach and art for public spaces. 

Studio Morison – The Left Hand of Darkness (Working Title): (Visual arts, architecture, and possible puppetry) (Herefordshire and North Wales)


A large sculptural outdoor pavilion sculpture and structure, looking at the history of fabric structures and the company’s practice of using folded origami forms. Working with architectural structures to create public space, the area will invite visitors for discussion from boys and girls, men, and women around a world which in which gender is irrelevant.

Tangled Feet – Eyes on Stalks: (Theatre, Spectacle, Digital, Spoken Word) (London and South East)


An interactive experience where the invisible ways we are watched and monitored in public and private space are made apparent; and where the online traces we leave are theatricalised and made visible. Dark, thrilling, eye opening and spectacular.

Thingumajig Theatre – Ghost Caribou (Theatre, puppetry, movement, music) (West Yorkshire)


A promenade street performance for children, young people and families; featuring a beautifully crafted herd of giant caribou – part animal, part shaman, tell of their vanishing through movement, music and shadow puppetry.

Trigger Stuff Ltd – Flying Dragon: (Puppetry) (Bristol)


A spectacular large-scale puppet dragon, a universal icon, which will hatch and unexpectedly fly away. Created by critically acclaimed designers and engineers, including Mervyn Millar (puppetry director for War Horse); Carl Robertshaw who works in commercial set design for clients including Ellie Goulding, Take That and Bjork; Black Skull Creative, Ross Nicholson who were part of the team behind 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Opening and Closing Ceremonies.

Vital Xposure – Pullen’s Journey (Working Title): (Theatre, puppetry, and procession) (London)


The creation of a new show by a disabled-led theatre company which will follow the incredible historical 19th century story of James Pullen’s extraordinary journey from ‘idiot savant’ to Earlswood genius.

Wild N Beets – Buck a Brenda (Working Title): (Theatre) (London)


A new playful twist on the classic family favourite game Buck a Roo. Wild N Beets will rework this classic game with their cheeky disability politics twist. They will build a performance with an adapted wheelchair machine which will tilt and tip objects representing things that are perceived as weighing disabled people down; including bed pans, a charity bucket and steps.

Yara El-Sherbini & Davina Drummond with producer ArtsAdmin Arrivals and Departures: (Digital, Installation, Interactive, Text based, Participatory art) (London)

www.yaraelsherbini.com   www.davinadrummond.co.uk   www.artsadmin.co.uk

An ambitious public artwork which will take the format of a traditional split-flap arrival and departures board; instead of announcing the usual arrivals and departures information of planes or trains, this will announce contextually relevant news relating to our contemporary lived experience. Including births and lost lives as well as immigration and migration statistics, to be sited in arrival and departure foyers and lounges in train stations and airports.