The Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy in Moscow and British Council UK are inviting applications for creative commissions which bring together art, science and digital technology and offer innovative, interdisciplinary and collaborative responses to climate change.

Looking after the planet requires understanding and empathy, collaboration and connections, imagination, and innovation.

In our fourth survey of almost 40,000 young people across 36 countries, including the G20, climate change is perceived to be the most important issue to these young people (age 18 – 34).

The UK will host the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow from 31 October – 12 November 2021, in partnership with Italy. This will be the largest international climate change summit the UK has hosted, bringing together over 30,000 delegates - including heads of states, climate experts and campaigners - to agree a coordinated action to tackle climate change. 

The UK-Russia Creative Commissions call is one of many activities the British Council is delivering to support the success and legacy of COP26 to create opportunities for cooperation, dialogue and action which address the shared challenge of climate change.   

About British Council 

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We create friendly knowledge and understanding between the people of the UK and other countries. We do this by making a positive contribution to the UK and the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust. We work with more than 100 countries across the world in the fields of arts and culture, the English language, education and civil society. 

Creative Brief 

We are inviting collaborative applications in response to this open call from teams of organisations and/or individuals across the UK and Russia.

We are inviting artists, scientists, influencers, engineers, city planners, technologists, thought leaders, activists, architects, and other creatives to combine art, science, and technology in engaging the audience and offering innovative and creative responses to climate change.

We want these commissions to stimulate truly global conversations, bringing together people from both UK and Russia to understand each other’s perspectives and collaborate on solutions towards climate change.

You may see examples of some of the creative commissions funded worldwide on this link.

We welcome action-focused, interactive responses, which tackle difficult issues head on, push boundaries and are a catalyst for real change. This means thinking beyond a single artwork, event or digital moment, and instead focusing on mass participation and engagement of young people and wider audiences, longer term movements and campaigns. We are interested in ideas that have longevity, the potential to be scaled up and those which can be shared globally using digital platforms and tools. This could include formats such as exhibitions, films festivals, literature events, theatre performances etc. as long as they meet the creative brief.

These are just indicative directions while your creation and originality should not be limited by this brief.

As part of our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion, we actively invite groups and communities who are underrepresented in climate change discussions to respond to this brief. This includes taking an inclusive approach to the development of your idea when considering the audiences you want to reach. We expect to see engagement with audiences of different genders, ethnicities, sexual orientation, abilities, and age either directly through the commission – or indirectly through your project audiences. We are also interested in ideas that explore, interrogate, educate, and respond to the connection between the environment and diversity, including gender equality and racial justice. In view of the disproportionate impact that climate change has upon women we also encourage applications from women playing a leading role in this area and/or that touch on this important theme.

Please also note that British Council has strict child protection and safeguarding policies which applicants would have to follow in case of project proposals which actively involve children in their activities. This should be factor in in terms of time needed for delivering of activities.

We are interested in supporting low carbon solutions and environmentally friendly practice in project planning and delivery, as well as your choice of partners and suppliers. 

Eligibility for creative commissions

  • We are inviting applications for creative responses to climate change with this open call. Application must include one Lead Applicant from the UK and at least one partner from Russia. There is no limit on number of partners in one application on both the UK and Russian side. Applications with representatives from only one country will be rejected. 
  • Teams of organisations or individuals are all eligible to apply but should have demonstrable experience of managing similar projects and grants. Representatives of organisations or individuals participating in the project must be living in their respective countries at the time of applying and for the duration of this project.
  • Lead Applicant from the UK must be an organisation. Partner(s) from Russia can be organisations or individuals. 
  • Lead Applicant from the UK may appear as a partner in another application. A partner from Russia may appear as a partner in another application. 
  • Applicants will be expected to design and fully realise their projects (creative commissions) during the implementation period of max four months, from November 2021 until February 2022.
  • Applicants can apply for grant from minimum of £10,000 to a maximum of £30,000 to realise their creative idea and we are looking to support approx. 6-10 projects in this project phase which concludes in March 2022. The final number of supported projects may vary and will be determined by quality of grant applications and requested grant amounts. Applicants with in-kind or matching supporting funds are welcome, although this is not essential. Matching funds cannot be provided through other British Council or FCDO funded programmes. 
  • Applicants from a range of different sectors are welcome and encouraged. All outputs and responses should be innovative in their nature, demonstrating creativity in working across disciplines, including arts, science, and digital technology.
  • Application must demonstrate a clear benefit to Russia, which should be reflected through the project planning (including budget allocation), delivery and dissemination. This includes demonstrating how the Russian partners or their audiences may benefit from showcasing opportunities, new networks and/or capacity building. 
  • Lead Applicant may submit more than one application, however we will most likely fund only one application of the same Lead Applicant. 
  • Applications (completed application form and a corresponding budget) should be jointly submitted and signed by all named partners – collaborators on the project, with one UK partner as Lead Applicant who will be contracted and responsible for leading communications and disseminating the grant to all partners. 
  • We expect applications to embed principles of equality, diversity and inclusion through their core proposal and idea (including where possible costs relating to captioning videos or translating content, or subtitling). 
  • We are interested in new, original ideas in response to this brief. Existing projects and programmes will be ineligible. However, adapting existing Creative Commissions ideas for Russian context, if not implemented in Russia before by the Applicant would be acceptable. Exceptions also apply for existing ideas which have reached a pilot or prototyping phase but have not been realised publicly.  
  • Applicants can use any platform to showcase their project idea, but must provide detail on how this will be realised and confirm that agreements in principle are in place with host organisations, festivals, online sites, media partners etc. 
  • An alternative scenario for implementation will be required for all activities which may be affected by the new surges of Covid-19 and restrictive counter-pandemic measures.
  • Applicants should support the ethos and values of this commission and where appropriate, have a demonstrable history of supporting environmentally friendly and low carbon ideas and initiatives. Applicants who are new to sustainable practice and want to include this initiative in their businesses or work moving forward are encouraged to submit joint applications with those who have more experience in this area. 
  • Successful applicants will own the copyright of any work created but must grant the British Council, as the commissioning partner, free and unequivocal use of any arising outputs, which may include promotion of works through our digital channels or exhibiting works in the future.
  • Successful applicants may be invited to take part in additional showcase opportunities and British Council alumni programmes in the future.
  • Successful applicants will be required to keep regular communication with the British Council, offering project updates, project and financial documentation and support the project monitoring and evaluation. 

Selection criteria

Only eligible applications/project proposals will be assessed by a group of external evaluators and will be shortlisted based on administrative and quality criteria. 

A Selection Panel consisting of representatives of the British Council UK, Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy in Moscow, and FCDO will be in charge of the final selection of the most successful applicants. 

The assessment of successful applicants will be based on the following criteria: 

  • Big ideas – the quality and creativity of the idea and approach, including opportunities which serve to ‘constructively disrupt’, reimagine possibilities for digital collaboration and enable meaningful audience interaction around these themes (25%)
  • Collaboration – the partners involved and the nature of the collaboration, with a particular emphasis on the level of mutuality within the partnership (25%)
  • Impact – the potential impact this commission will have on the partners and audiences involved, as well as potential for additional showcasing, scaling up or further development beyond the scope of this commission (20%)
  • Quality – the experience of the applicants in delivering high quality work in their respective field(s) and the integrity of any scientific contributions or analysis (15%)
  • Budget – the extent to which costings are appropriately calculated, reflect good value for money, are relevant to the proposed approach and are distributed amongst partners (15%)

The Panel will consider the overall curation of commissions to ensure a diverse selection of applicants are supported which meet the overall programme aims. This will include achieving a geographical spread across the UK and Russia, the type and format of the response, themes being explored, and the individuals and sectors represented. 

Applicants may be approached with clarification questions or to attend an interview during the selection. Applicants must be available to respond and/or attend an interview (conducted online) in line with the schedule below. 

Key dates

Milestone Date
Application window opens 13 August 2021
Deadline for clarification questions from applicants 23 August 2021
Responses to clarification questions issued 31 August 2021
Application deadline 10 September 2021, at 23.59 UK time
Assessment of applications; clarification questions to applicants and interviews (as appropriate and if necessary) September – October 2021
Successful applicants informed (please note that time needed for evaluation and informing applicants will depend upon number of received applications) 15 – 20 October 2021 
Contracting of successful applicants; and informing unsuccessful applicants (exact date depends upon number of received applications) Last week of October 2021
List of successful applicants published at www.britishcouncil.ru 1 November 2021
Inception phase – detailed planning of activities and financial planning 1 – 10 November
Advance payment, 1st instalment  November 2021
Project activity window including interim reporting and the programme evaluation  November 2021 – February 2022
Final narrative and financial reporting – deadline 7 March 2022

Payment process and reporting

  • Successful applicants will need to confirm a UK/Russian partner and present a detailed adjusted project plan and budget before signing a grant agreement with British Council UK.
  • Grant agreement will be signed with the Lead Applicant from the UK. 
  • UK Lead Applicant will be responsible to disseminate grant to all partners.
  • For Russian partners – the grant will be transferred to the partner’s bank account by the UK Lead Applicant. Guidance on exchange rates will be issued to successful applicants. 
  • The applicant is fully responsible for the tax payment. Grant amount does not cover taxes, including UK VAT.
  • If a project cannot be implemented offline due to external reasons beyond the applicant’s control, the applicant will be required to deliver the project online within the same budget. British Council UK do not cover applicant’s losses related to the cancellation of any offline activities in the UK or Russia, and applicant takes over all related risks (such as expenses of UK experts’ visits – travel tickets, hotel, visa etc).
  • The Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy in Moscow does not assist with securing UK and Russian partners, making payments within the project, or – where travel is possible – providing visas or issuing visa support letters.
  • The applicant is fully responsible for project implementation at all stages including communication with UK and Russian partners and third parties, planning, logistics, audience engagement, payment processing, reporting. 
  • The grant recipient should deliver the project by 28 February 2022 and present a full report on it to the British Council UK by 7 March 2022. 
  • The reporting stage includes detailed financial and descriptive (narrative) reports and completed evaluation form.
  • A descriptive (narrative) report is provided in English and includes: quantitative and qualitative audience analysis, links to media publications, photo and video (if any) of the work, feedback from engaged UK and Russian partners as well as audience members, a descriptive summary of the key project outcomes, and all project related materials. Detailed guidance will be issued to successful applicants. 
  • The financial report includes project related supporting documents: agreements with individuals and organisations (Russian and UK-based), payment documents (bank statements, payment orders, credit card reports (corporate cards – for organisations, personal cards – for individuals), invoices, acts of acceptance, facturas, itinerary receipts, delivery slips, e-tickets. We do not accept cash payments, only bank transfers. Please note that the project will be audited by an external auditor. 
  • In case an applicant does not spent the whole grant amount, the rest should be returned to the British Council UK, by bank transfer.  Any likely underspend must be reported as soon as possible.  Further advice will be provided to successful applicants in due course. 

Further information for applicants

If potential applicants require further information about this open call, they may submit a clarification question by 23 August

You may email us your question to mirjana.nikolic@britishcouncil.org

Responses to all questions will be given by 31 August

If not of confidential nature we will include your question in an FAQ section available to all potential applicants. 

How to apply

Please complete your application in English and send it to mirjana.nikolic@britishcouncil.org by end of the day Friday, 10 September 2021, 23.59 UK time. 

Applications submitted after this date may not be considered for selection.

We look forward to receiving your application!