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.

Devisers, directors, writers, dancers, musicians, poets, puppeteers, live artists - you name it. Ferment invite a huge variety of artists whose work inspires us to experiment, play and make the theatre of tomorrow.

Here are some of the ways we work with artists:

Ferment Fortnights - two weeks of work-in-progress and scratch performances where we invite artists to try something out in front of an audience. The atmosphere is lively and informal and generates an exciting dialogue between artist and audience. These take place in January and July each year.

Artist development - we meet with artists regularly to discuss what they are up to and what their plans are for the future. The conversations have no agenda and are led by whatever the artist wants, be that an initial exploration of an idea, to advice on applying for funding and everything in between.

Retreats - occasionally 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 ideas are formed, fermented and discussed with collaborators.

Support & Commissioning - if a project really excites us we can sometimes support it to reach the next stage or a full production. What form this support takes depends on what the project might need and usually comes as a result of an ongoing conversation between Bristol Ferment and the artists.

If you are a theatre-maker based in Bristol or the South West we are always interested to hear from you. We collaborate with artists whose work we have seen and which excites us, so if we are not yet aware of your work - invite us to see something.

Bristol Ferment is curated and produced by Emma Bettridge and assistant producer Helen Edwards.  

If you are a playwright, your first contact should be with Sharon Clark, Literary Producer.

For general enquiries and initial contact please email bristolferment@bristololdvic.org.uk.

Bristol Ferment Opportunities

As well the many ways we work with artists Bristol Ferment also offers other opportunities to give you the chance to develop as an artist. For more information on the latest opportunities click here.


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.

The Jerwood Charitable Foundation support additional specific elements of this activity, namely, Ferment production and research and development commissions; artistic retreats; and a new programme for 2015/16, Ferment Producer Bursaries.


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