Our mission is to enable a flourishing of live period performances in every region of the country, and to help period-instrument ensembles and musicians become more financially sustainable by engaging and inspiring ever-larger audiences of all ages.

Our 2021 grants focused on helping ensembles to remain active by supporting projects creating employment for freelance musicians, and enabling them to engage with audiences despite uncertainty and restrictions. In 2022, our grants aim to encourage live performances, touring to underserved areas of the UK and recently formed ensembles. Looking ahead, alongside grant making, we plan to scale up our impact by investing in digital technology to help the sector thrive, and to accelerate the growth in audiences we are already seeing. 

Period performance is versatile, engaging and uplifting - it is for everyone


Continuo Foundation is run by a group of experienced professionals from business, media, law, management consulting, classical music and academia. All members of the team believe in the power of music to enrich lives, and are passionate about the vital role period-instrument ensembles can play in bringing excellent live music to hundreds of non-intimidating venues, and thousands of people, in every region of the country. All of the team give their time so that 100% of your donations will go directly to benefit ensembles and freelance musicians. 


Supporting ensembles with project grants, prioritising excellence and creation of paid performance opportunities for freelance musicians who have suffered financially and psychologically from Covid-19 cancellations.


Helping ensembles adapt to evolving restrictions and uncertainty around the return of audiences, so they can create projects that will help musicians rebuild their careers and bring period music to all regions of the UK.


Supporting long-term growth in activity and audiences, and increased visibility for period ensembles and musicians. Promoting UK touring to widen audience engagement and boost ensemble sustainability.


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The UK's tradition of excellence in period performance and its virtuosic freelance musicians need to be supported
The UK has been at the forefront of the historical performance movement since the mid-20th century. The sector is comprised of over 100 established and up-and-coming professional ensembles made up of several hundred freelance musicians, often playing with several groups to earn a living.  

The careers of freelance musicians in the UK are precarious as artists are only paid for performing and have little to no protection in case of cancellations. With covid, musicians' income disappeared overnight. These artists are now having to rebuild their careers. 
The musicians in this sector make a unique contribution to the UK's classical music landscape. These artists’ virtuosity, scholarship and exploration of reconstructed and restored instruments have revolutionised concert life and brought audiences exciting new sound worlds and interpretations of music. In addition to expanding the repertoire from composers from the last 800 years, these musicians have creatively reimagined and refreshed the way we hear Western classical music.  
ACADEMY OF ANCIENT MUSIC  © Marco Borggreve   
A sector-wide initiative is the most effective way to mobilise activity and retain musicians
Due to the slow return of classical music audiences and continuing uncertainty, freelance musicians are struggling to earn enough from their performing careers. In November 2021, HelpMusicians UK published a study showing that 87% of musicians currently earn less than £1,000 per month. In addition, 45% lack confidence about their long-term careers in music and 22% are actively considering leaving the industry.

Our 2021 grants, supporting 46 projects employing 865 freelance musicians, made a tremendous impact by creating a wave of hope and inspiration which rippled across the sector. This support must continue in 2022 and 2023 to avoid the impoverishment of the UK period performance ecosystem which would result from the loss of these musicians’ talent and scholarship.


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newly discovered masterpieces, found in archives and ‘translated’ into modern notation