Bristol Old Vic Ferment is the artist development department of Bristol Old Vic. It is also the name we give to the vibrant community of theatre-makers from Bristol and the South West with whom we support and develop exciting and adventurous new work. Within this ‘ferment', it is our job to create a playful structure through which the best of these artists can explore their theatrical ideas in an ongoing dialogue with audiences.

Ferment work with a huge variety of artists whose work inspires us to experiment, play and make the theatre of tomorrow. Our artist development offer is not open access, but is instead curated by Bristol Ferment producer Emma Bettridge.

Here are some of the ways we work with artists:

Ferment Festivals
Twice a year we invite artists to try something out in front of an audience which could be work-in progress or scratch performances.

Artist development and Retreats
We invite artists to escape with us to the country to experiment, develop and make work in lovely surroundings away from day to day life.

Support & Commissioning
If a project really excites us, we support it to reach the next  stage or into a full production.

Company Producing & Support with Strategy
We work intensively with a small cohort of artists each year to help them broker relationships with venues, support with tour booking, provide industry advocacy and help with longer term artist strategy.

How to get in touch with the Bristol Ferment team
The Ferment team is a small team of two which means we're not able to meet with every artist who contacts us individually. Often a good starting place is inviting us to see your work or sending us a film of a recent performance. We are in the process of organising regular artist meet-ups which will be open to South West artists and held at Bristol Old Vic, please check back regularly for more information about these.

If you are a playwright, please visit our Literary Department; your first contact for plays is James Peries, Literary Associate.

For general enquiries and initial contact please email



Bristol Ferment is supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. We use a grant from the Foundation to invest directly in artists and the development of their work, through a bespoke programme of research and development, mentoring, dramaturgical support and a variety of public-facing performances and work-in-progress scratch events delivered by Ferment's core team.


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