Discover Programme

The Discover Programme is a perfect opportunity for artists, directors, producers, designers and creatives who’re new to the outdoor arts sector.

Through a unique series of group sessions with industry practitioners, participants are offered a broad insight into, and understanding of, what working in outdoor arts means. A key aim of this programme is to increase the representation of those who are currently underrepresented across the sector, particularly people who identify as global majority, D/deaf, disabled or neurodiverse.

‘The programme gave me a huge insight into the types of outdoor works out there but also about the logistics of creating work for the outdoors. It was a great opportunity to meet other artists, festival producers and the programme of talks and events were well curated and hugely useful.’

Subathra Subramaniam, Artistic Director and Joint CEO, Akademi

2023 saw our Discover participants connect across a variety of sessions from curated visits to meet ups.

Digital Discovery
A Self-guided engagement with a number of recorded sessions and masterclasses exploring a range of topics, including

  • Meet the Artists
  • Meet the Festivals
  • Meet the Producers
  • Meet the Strategic & Partner Organisations

Curated visit to Stockton International Riverside Festival
Participants attended SIRF experiencing the programme of outdoor work in Stockton, with opportunity to discuss and reflect on the shows.

Tea & Talks| Speed Dating | Meet the AD: Stockton International Riverside Festival,
Participants attended SIRF and engaged in a range of workshops and sessions in Stockton, with opportunity to meet some of the Artistic Directorate, Industry experts and specialists.

Greenwich & Docklands International Festival
Participants attended GDIF experiencing the programme of outdoor work, with opportunity to discuss and reflect in a group.

Meet the AD: Greenwich & Docklands International Festival
Participants attended GDIF with opportunity to meet some of the Artistic Directorate, industry experts and specialists.

1-1 mentoring sessions
An opportunity to meet with a mentor matched with your particular needs and interests.

‘The Discover programme was amazing and allowed me to receive mentorship, networking and wider connectivity.’

2023 participant

August 2022 participants

Alethia Antonia is a UK-based choreographer, performer, teacher and researcher.

Fern Beard is a festival producer and project manager. She is a producer at Inspirate in the Midlands, An Indian Summer and is a project manager at 2Funky Arts.

Lousie Conaghan is a writer, performer and theatre maker from Donegal, Ireland. She set up and produces street theatre with Play Make-Believe.

Joanna Dong is a creative producer living in London, who was born and grew up in China. She is the founder and director of Performance Infinity, and produces FeastFest.

Fee Hudson Francis is a freelance project and event manager based in Southampton.  She is currently working as Project Manager for Hat Fair, is a Women Leaders South West associate at The Point and Company Secretary for Strike A Light.

Amina Khayyam is a kathak performer, choreographer and dance theatre maker. She is the Artistic Director of Amina Khayyam Dance Company.

Lizzy Maries is a creative producer and coach. She is currently leads a digital programme centring access and R&D at Pavilion Dance South West.

Aerial Mel Stevens is an aerial circus artist, spoken word poet, music and film producer, teacher and consultant. They are the founder of Aim to Fly UK.

Urja Desai Thakore is one of the UK’s leading kathak dancers and choreographers. She is the Artistic Director of Pagrav Dance Company.

Lauren Nicole Whitter is an actress, poet, physical theatre performer and external examiner based in Derby. She is the founder of Anansi Theatre Company.

In 2022 the Summer Programme consisted of two parts:


Ahead of the festival visit, participants had access to a series of pre-recorded sessions on the following topics to watch in their own time ahead of the 27 August visit.

Session 1: Meet the Artists.  This session features artists and directors who have created and toured their work in the outdoor sector for many years. They will share with you their experience of working at outdoor festivals, transferring work from indoor to outdoor locations and offer top tips to people thinking of working in this exciting sector. 

Session 2: Meet the festivals. This recording is an opportunity to hear from some of the leading artistic directors of festivals in the country, gain insight into the programming process and learn how best to present your work and make approaches and relationships with festivals.  

Session 3: Meet the producers: In this practical session, we share advice on the rigours of touring, conventions when creating outdoor work, managing creation & touring budgets and useful dos and don’ts.  

Session 4: Meet the strategic organisations. This artist-led session looks at how to develop sustainable and meaningful relationships with potential partners/ collaborators/commissioners/presenters and expand networks both in the UK and internationally.

Festival visit

This was an exciting opportunity for participants to see a selection of outdoor art pieces at Greenwich+Docklands International Festival. After watching a selection of the shows, they came together as a group to critique and analyse each of the works. They also had the opportunity to meet with other industry practitioners to gain deeper insights into how those professionals approach their work.  

The schedule included:

  • A briefing session and introduction to Without Walls  
  • A group meal and introductions to the rest of the group  
  • A guided programme of shows to see, tailored to art forms and/or interests of everyone  
  • Critical feedback and reflection time as a group  
  • Opportunities to meet artists, festival directors and other practitioners

At the end of the programme, participants were invited to a debrief and evaluation session outlining:  

  • The insights they gained 
  • New connections they made 
  • Ways in which they intend to apply your learning to your future practice 

2021 Participants

  • Aoi Nakamura – Artistic Dir., AOE
  • Bryony Farrant-Davis – Creative Engagement & Community Producer
  • Natalie Verhaegen –  Artistic Dir., Loose End Physical Theatre
  • Ella Mesma – Artistic Dir,, Ella Mesma Company
  • Gina Chan Martinez – Mass movement choreographer + live-action consultant
  • Mahandra Patel – Founder, teacher & performer, Kadence Music
  • Olivia Altaras – Designer, Maker & Community Artist
  • Sonia Sabri – Artistic Dir., Sonia Sabri Company
  • Lauren Banks – Young Peoples Producer, Contact
  • Louise Brown – Co-Artistic Dir., Velcro Collective
  • Michaela Cisarikova – Choreographer & teacher, Michaela Cisarikova Dance  Company
  • Nadia Iftkhar – Artistic Dir. & CEO, Company of Others
  • Sushmita Pati – Artistic Dir. / Producer, Kala the Arts
  • Symoné S – Director / Performer, Fierce Flow
  • Talita Moffatt – Producer, Trade Arts
  • Urja Thakore – Artistic Dir., Pagrav Dance

2019 Participants

  • Alex Rinsler
  • Alison Holder
  • Anna Alvarez
  • David Bennie
  • Debbie Bandara
  • Etta Ermini
  • Hazel Lam
  • Jamaal Burkmar
  • Kwesi Johnson
  • Ling Tan
  • Paul Smith
  • Pierre Palluet
  • Rinkoo Barpaga
  • Stephanie Applin
  • Suba Subramaniam
  • Sonny Nwachukwu