Continuo Foundation announced its first round of grant awards on 23rd March 2021. 
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The application submission period for the first round of grants closed on 23rd February 2021.
Applicants were invited to request amounts ranging from £1,000 to £10,000 to support projects that are scheduled to take place in the UK before the end of September 2021.
The primary goal of these grants was to enable ensembles to proceed with artistic projects, and to engage musicians, despite the uncertainty around restrictions due to Covid-19.
These grants will support 23 ensembles, many of whom haven't played together since March 2020. The projects backed will create paid performance activity for well over 300 freelance musicians (instrumental and vocal).
There were many more very worthwhile projects which Continuo Foundation would have liked to support had there been more funds available. 
Continuo Foundation grants aim to address the needs of period-instrument ensembles of all sizes.

The objective of our first round was to restore confidence across the UK historical performance sector by supporting the economic viability of a range of artistically excellent projects creating employment for freelance musicians. ​
The criteria and objectives for future grant rounds will evolve to reflect Continuo Foundation’s long-term mission and the requirements of ensembles.
We aim to learn and improve with each round, in order to better serve the needs of the UK historical performance sector and help it to flourish. 


Eligible ensembles were UK-based professional groups of at least three musicians playing period instruments, or faithful replicas, and focusing primarily on music repertoires from the Middle Ages up until the early 19th century. The proposed projects could include vocalists, as long as there were a minimum of three instrumentalists. Projects could also include new works commissioned for period instruments or combine early and contemporary repertoires in their programmes.
The main objective of the first round of grants was to support projects of outstanding artistic merit which create work for as many freelance period musicians as possible. As such, the key criteria for assessing applications in this round of grants were:
  • the artistic merit and originality of the proposed project; and
  • the number of instrumentalists engaged and the proportion of the grant funds dedicated to artists’ fees.
Other areas considered by the Advisory Panel and Trustees included: 
  • public performances, including those cancelled in 2020, since 2017
  • critically acclaimed recordings (including CDs, broadcasts, videos, etc.) since 2017 
  • confirmed concert bookings cancelled due to Covid-19
  • support of early-career instrumentalists and vocalists 
  • innovative programming, including works by diverse composers 
  • diversity of performers and administrators 
  • involvement in outreach and education projects 
  • registered UK charity 
In choosing which projects to support, the Trustees sought to balance artistic excellence with considerations of financial need and access to alternative sources of funding, in order to maximise the impact of grant funds on the preservation of the UK's historical performance sector and the careers of its freelance musicians.
The Trustees also sought to support a group of projects which highlights the variety and vibrancy of UK period-instrument ensembles and the range of repertoires offered by these groups. The first round project programmes range from medieval to baroque to classical to early-Romantic, and extend to a major new opera commission specifically for period-instrument orchestra.