What We Do

Creative Fund

Puppet Animation Scotland offers a range of practical schemes to assist the continuous skills development and nurturing of professional practitioners. The Creative Fund offers artists funding to explore a new creative idea or seek out professional development opportunities.

All Scottish based artists can apply to the Creative Fund to explore elements of their creative and technical working practices which relate to puppetry, object manipulation, visual theatre and animated film. With each successful applicant, we will create a customised plan that offers them the clearest path to achieve their aims and objectives.

Olivier Ducas - Seed of a City Workshop - Tue 31 January 2017 - Dance Base, Edinburgh (photographer Andy Catlin • www.andycatlin.com) -2160

Creative Fund 2020 – 2021

Applications will open Thursday 16 April 2020

Puppet Animation Scotland will award £14,000. The maximum one can apply for is £5,000.

Creative Fund 2019-2020

Puppet Animation Scotland made the following awards:


A short description from Grid Iron’s Artistic Director, Ben Harrison –

We will work with leading UK puppeteer Gavin Glover, exploring the possibility of puppetry elements in our forthcoming production (2020) STRANGE TALES, based on some Chinese ghost stories by Pu Singling, adapted and directed by Pauline Lockhart and Ben Harrison. In our planning sessions we have already discussed with Gavin how to use puppetry elements with both illusion and projector mapping and video projection. We seek to insert puppetry in the moment where it can achieve effects beyond the scope of human actors, design, illusion or video. We are excited to work with an artist of Gavin’s renown at this early stage of production to interrogate how the puppetry elements could combine with the other stage languages to create a truly multi-layered production using all the theatrical languages available. Gavin and I first met 23 years ago but this is the first opportunity he and I have had to work together.

FESTIVAL MONDIAL DES THEATRES DE MARIONETTES 2019, FRANCE Swallow the Sea, Mary & David Grieve, Ella Mackay & Fiona Oliver-Larkin

Puppet Animation Scotland is supporting the Scottish company Swallow the Sea, and its plans to present a repertoire of short pieces in the intimate performance space of its customised caravan theatre at the world-renowned Festival Mondial des Theatres de Marionettes 2019 (20 –  29 September), in northern France.

Swallow the Sea has received a Creative Scotland Open Fund award to enable the company and three guest puppeteer to travel to Charleville and present six short puppetry pieces in repertoire throughout the festival. These pieces will also be presented during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe at Summerhall and during the manipulate Visual Theatre Festival 2020:

  • JOURNEY Swallow the Sea – Light, shadow, table-top puppetry, textured images and a live vocal soundscape takes us, through the eyes of a young girl, to an underworld of discoveries and transformations
  • LAMP Swallow the Sea – Physical, absurdist, object theatre exploring the transmogrification of two lightshades – Samuel Beckett and Edward Lear’s love-child with a live vocal score
  • TRIPTYCH Swallow the Sea – Abstract playful puppetry with elements of shadow, clowning and object theatre, exploring the inner and outer cosmos
  • SHADOW BIRD Mary & David Grieve – Rod and shadow puppetry, immersive light-projections and music, telling a melancholic tale of other-worldly adventures and impossible love, taking inspiration from the Tom Waits song Fish and Bird
  • TWA PIRATE LASSIES Fiona Oliver-Larkin – Shadow puppetry, song and storytelling, inspired by the true-life stories of Anne Bonny and Mary Read, women caught up in the lawless, larger than life Carribbean mercantile world of the 17th century
  • FINGER FATALE Ella Mackay – A burlesque inspired ‘hand-tease’, celebrating the fluidity, versatility and down-right sexy movement that a hand can perform. Big bravado with… a small appendage!


Dance and choreographer Robbie Synge will complete a UK-recognised training opportunity to develop further his film and animation expertise. Robbie will use these skills in the development of sort film sequence which connect various physical movements and activities of animals, his body and other natural materials, through kinetic, sculptural interactions.

THE CEREMONY Tortoise in a Nutshell

Harnessing the success of initial creative exploration to discover how successfully this leading Scottish visual theatre company could work in collaboration with the similarly respected French ensemble Compagnie Aie Aie Aie, together both companies are developing – with a riot of colour, movement, puppetry, flying objects and an anarchic battle of wills – an original concept focusing on the place ceremony, both private and public, plays in all our lives.


Theatre practitioner Natasha Gore, playwright Will Gore and visual theatre-maker Ross Mackay will work on the initial research and development of a small-scale piece of children about a true story of a young boy forced to feel his family home as war engulfs his country.

Creative Fund 2018-2019

In 2018, the fund totalled £16,000 and we made the following awards:

I LIKE WHAT I LIKE Jordan & Skinner

A new visual theatre production in development which explores the relationship between a little girl and unrelated adult man, both fans of the cartoon My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. The show will explore fandom, how we connect to stories and gender norms to ask why it is taboo for a grow man to have the same interests as a little girl. Puppet Animation Scotland’s Creative Fund will support us to experiment with micro cinema and object manipulation as we develop the visual and design elements of the show alongside the story.


Al Seed will use the opportunity of the Creative Fund to further his collaboration with designer, Kai Fischer. During the project Al and Kai will develop the visual elements – set, lights, props and special effects – for an intended future show with the working title, ‘The Nightmares of Joseph Stalin’. By the end of the project they will have defined the physical world of the show and will be in a position to move towards full production.


I plan to spend five days working with experienced story-teller and puppeteer Sylvia Troon to extend further my puppetry making and manipulation skills, with a particular focus on creating accessible and robust puppet-making templates, ideas and workshops programmes for use by children in schools and community settings.


I intend to use money generously awarded to me from Puppet Animation Scotland’s creative fund to have time to dedicate myself to developing a short, one-man show that explores the subject of becoming a father for the first time. The show will be part narrative storytelling, with elements of live stop-motion woven throughout it.

Creative Fund 2016-2017

In 2016, the fund totalled £14,000 and we were able to award the following artists:

Case Studies

Caitlin Skinner – At a Stretch, 2015

The Creative Funded supported a research and development process in a new visual theatre show for young people At a Stretch.

The piece combined physical theatre, clown and object theatre to create a playful, non-verbal show which explored the complexity of human relationships and in particular same sex relationships. The show will explore how relationships form, bonds are made and how these ties develop over time. The piece will look at the internal and external forces that might put pressure on relationships and how difference can make things even more complicated. At A Stretch will be a story of overcoming adversity in the name of love.

During the development of At A Stretch the team explored the use of wordless storytelling and imaginative design to create an innovative and engaging piece of work.


Ainslie Henderson – Stems, 2014

The 5 months of dedicated time that the puppet animation grant has afforded me have been deeply rewarding.

All the projects that I have undertaken in the 3 years since leaving art school have either been commissions, or schemes set up with tight deadlines and objectives. While I enjoy those challenges, I’ve longed for space to explore, experiment, wonder and remind myself how to play. I think in our hyper productive society this is a mode of being that is typically, hugely undervalued. In the run up to being awarded the grant I was tired, worn out and beginning to lose my passion for creating. Knowing that my studio rent was taken care of, and that a piece of finished work, fitting a specific brief was not expected of me I began attempting to adjust my relationship with what it means to be creative.


While it turns out I’m not able to completely abandon desire for a tangible outcome, I did discover a slower, more considered, intuitive way of working that I feel is reflected in the finished film. Stems, the film the grant allowed me to make, captures a little of it’s own process and the atmosphere I’m grateful to have worked in. At only 2 minutes 30 seconds, there’s a very concentrated magic in the film, that I suspect, and hope, will be appreciated at animation festivals. While this keeps me in the public eye and furthers my career, the most important gain the last five months have brought is a renewed sense of curiosity and passion for the art of animated filmmaking. I am deeply grateful to Puppet Animation Scotland for the experience.

Tortoise in a Nutshell – Grit, 2012

Our company, Tortoise in a Nutshell is a multi-award winning visual theatre company. Since forming in 2010 we have performed throughout the UK and all over the world. Puppet Animation Scotland’s Creative Fund has been absolutely instrumental to our success.  The fund has given us time and space to explore tiny flashes of ideas. It allows us to test and experiment, refine those ideas into something. It has allowed us to see what was working and what wasn’t.

The freedom of a fund purely for early ideas means we really can experiment. This freedom has allowed us to explore early ideas that have since turned into our most successful productions.  Total Theatre and Arches Brick nominated, Grit; the Fringe First winning and Made in Scotland showcased, Feral and Imaginate commission, and the critically acclaimed, The Lost Things have all started life as that tiny idea that has been developed through the Creative Fund.

The fund has allowed us as we have embarked on each new production to become more ambitious artistically and strategically. It has allowed us to develop small sharings of our ideas with venues and producers that has in turn lead to new partnerships. These co-producing partnerships has allowed us to professionalize and develop from a small company run out of our bedrooms and garden sheds to an organisation that has been showcased at some of the worlds greatest festivals, including being part of Puppet animation Scotland’s manipulate Festival 2017.


Ailie Finlay – All the Little Birds, 2014

In 2013 I applied to the Creative Fund for funds to help with the development of a production for people with complex additional needs. Over the next two years (a bit longer than originally intended!) I developed All the Little Birds. I have been performing the piece regularly since then in Special Schools, care settings and arts venues.

All the Little Birds - Flotsam & Jetsam Puppets & Stories - Sat 19 March 2016 -0346 (photographer - Andy Catlin www.andycatlin.com)

All the Little Birds is a small-scale work with a very simple narrative about birds during the changing seasons. The performer moves amongst the small audience with puppets and props. All the props and puppets are multi-sensory and incorporate interesting sounds, textures and smells. The performance is designed so that the performer can be as flexible and responsive as possible to audience members.
The funding from Puppet Animation Scotland allowed me the time necessary to develop All the Little Birds and the chance to collaborate with others whilst doing so. In spite of the simplicity of the piece, the processes of planning, experimenting and collaborating involved in its development were lengthy. My prospective audiences included people with profound and multiple learning disabilities and multiple sensory impairments. Their experience of the world was very different from my own; this meant that I needed to give a lot of thought to the initial development of the piece. As this process continued there was also a lot of trial and error involved in finding out what the audience found truly interesting and engaging.

At this stage I collaborated closely with teaching staff at Braidwood Special School. I also worked with Ruth Bailey, theatrical prop-maker and Francisca Morton and Elspeth Murray gave me guidance and acted as ‘outside eyes’ on the project.

People with complex additional needs can find themselves very marginalised in our society. It can be extremely difficult for them to access mainstream theatrical performances. For this reason I think that it is important that work such as All the Little Birds gets produced. I am very grateful to Puppet Animation Scotland for recognising the importance of this kind of work and supporting its development.

All the Little Birds - Flotsam & Jetsam Puppets & Stories - Sat 19 March 2016 -0301 (photographer - Andy Catlin www.andycatlin.com)

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