Kickstart Commissions – Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve put together this list of frequently asked questions for anyone interested in applying to our Kickstart commissions programme.

We’ll update this list in response to new questions and enquiries but, in the meantime, if you can’t find the answer to your question here, please email David Porter, Director, for guidance [email protected]

Who are we and where does the money come from?

J-Night is an Arts Council National Portfolio Organisation, that has been organising Hull Jazz Festival since 1993.

We were awarded £25,000 in March 2021 by the DCMS Cultural Recovery Fund (CRF) in order to commission music artists to create work for the period 2021 – 2023.

We plan to distribute this entire fund to artists.

The panel that will select the commissions is made up of cultural and musical professionals from across the North.

How many commissions will be awarded?

Hull Jazz Festival can contribute between £700 and £4,000, depending on project needs, and we’re aiming to award up to 12 commissions during this initial process.

We’re expecting a lot of applications for a limited pot of money. This means that it’s really important that anyone thinking of applying should read the guidelines carefully. This will help you understand what priorities the panel will be looking for as well as making sure that the amount you ask for offers value for money and is realistic.

The average award will be around £2,000.

We’re expecting to receive more applications than the funding can support, and we may offer support at a lesser level than has been applied for.

Am I eligible to apply?

To be eligible you must be over 18 years old and based in the UK.

You must also:

  • Not be in full-time education: the priority will go to those working in the industry at the moment. However, it would be quite acceptable for you to state that you’re currently finishing an undergraduate or postgraduate course, for example, and would be looking to start in October (or whenever). As long as you are upfront with your situation, it can be taken into consideration.
  • Have a track record of professional music career: please make sure that you fully demonstrate your CV.
  • Have a clear and coherent project proposal: you should have a clear idea of the type of event(s) that you want to create, the artists you want to work with, the audiences you want to reach, the spaces you might present in and the impact you want your project to have.

We recognise that your ideas may develop and change over the course of the programme, but your application should be well thought out and as detailed as possible. It should demonstrate both the ideas behind the project and the practicalities of how it might be realised.

We need to have a clear sense of the project so we can understand whether it’s achievable within the budget provided.

The more fully formed your ideas are, the easier it will be for us to visualise what you want to produce and to understand what support you might need from us.

Can I make a video application?

Yes. If you prefer to submit your application as a video recording, you can send us a link to a site where we can watch it.

This could be an unlisted video link to YouTube or Vimeo. Or you can provide a link from a file sharing service like Dropbox or Google Drive.

 If the video’s password-protected, please don’t forget to send us the password.

What are the selection panel looking for and what makes a strong application?

Our guidance notes give more information about the criteria the selection panel will be using when they review applications.

A strong application is:

  • Clear (and easy to read)
  • Authentic (to your voice and style)
  • Compelling (we want to be excited by your vision)
  • Realistic (we want you to be able to make this happen)

If I reach the interview stage, what format will the interview take?

All applications will be considered by a selection panel, consisting of music and cultural professionals, in early May 2021.

  • A shortlist of candidates will be invited to present their ideas over Zoom between 10th to 24th May 2021.
  • Offers of commissions will be made by the end of May 2021, with contracts and public announcements made at the end of June 2021.

Shortlisted applicants will be invited to interview over Zoom. We’ll provide the names of the interviewers in advance.

All applicants will be asked the same set of initial questions. We’ll then ask you some questions that relate specifically to your project. This will help us get a better understanding of your ideas and how they respond to the commission brief and also whether they’re feasible with the timeframe and budget available. It will also help us understand more about the audiences you want to reach and how your project relates to them.

We’ll share the questions in advance, to help you prepare for the interview.

You’ll also have the opportunity to ask the panel any questions you might have.

Are you able to offer feedback on my application?

We’ll be in touch by week commencing 24th  May to update you on whether or not your application has been successful.

We can provide informal feedback to unsuccessful applicants on request.


How much can I apply for? 

You can apply to us for a minimum of £700 up to a maximum of £4,000 towards the cost of your project.

Please bear in mind that, if you’re successful, the amount we offer may be lower and will be determined by the needs of the project and value for money.

Do I need to provide evidence of other income sources and in-kind contributions in my application?

No, while you might have some other income and in-kind support confirmed for the project before applying, we’re able to commit funds without having further funding sources such as grants, bursaries or ticket sales secured at the time of application. We will not be using ‘other income support’ in our decision-making process.

What do you mean by ‘in-kind’ support?

In-kind support means goods or services that are donated towards the project. This is usually something that you receive free of charge or at a reduced rate. For example, someone might offer you a venue or rehearsal space or equipment or materials. If you’ve been given or expect to be given in-kind support, you should mention this in your application.

What impact will Covid-19 have on Kickstart commissions?  

With the Covid-19 situation ongoing, it’s difficult to know how much, if any, impact it will have. We do know that we may have to be flexible when it comes to live events.

It’s important that any events taking place as part of the programme will be carried out in a way that’s safe for artists, audiences and event staff. With this in mind, please think about how your project  would work if Covid-19 restrictions remain in place. For example, would it work as hybrid event, combining live and digital? Or as a purely digital event (e.g. livestream).



J-Night and Hull Jazz Festival is committed to ensuring that the Kickstart commissions will be representative of wider society in terms of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, disability and socio-economic background.

I’ve read the guidance notes and FAQ’s but I’ve still got a question.

If you can’t find the answer to your question, please contact David Porter, Director [email protected]


Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash