This is a mentorship programme funded by The Arts Council Arts Grant Funding 2024, presented by ISPD in partnership with Irish Theatre Institute, and supported by Project Arts Centre.

Selected participants will receive a stipend for their participation. 

This Open Call is Now Closed

Deadline: Monday 26.02.2024 at 3pm

What is Explore Design?

Explore Design is a mentorship programme connecting award-winning designers with seven emerging playwrights and theatre-makers, fostering design thinking and scenography skills in their practice. 

If you value the visual impact of your project and believe stage imagery or sound is as meaningful as spoken words, this is the opportunity for you.

Curated by Pamela McQueen, with Maree Kearns as lead designer, the programme  will introduce the core components of performance design.

Discursive seminar sessions will cover the full breadth of design tools available in performance. To that end, the programme includes designers from all disciplines and aesthetic styles, who will each give a group session. It also includes a session with a production manager and a stage manager to contemplate the practical aspects of implementing design ideas.

Designers and Other Creatives


Mags Mulvey


Joan O’Clery


Zia Bergin-Holly


Maree Kearns & Owen Boss (two separate sessions)


Carl Kennedy

Stage Manager

Sophie Flynn

Production Manager

Lisa Mahony

What is the Commitment?

⎯ Ten weekly in-person group seminar sessions at Irish Theatre Institute. The sessions will take place every Wednesday, 10am – 1pm, starting on April 10th (see timeline below).

Participants are required to attend all sessions.*

⎯  There will be two further individual sessions at the end of the programme; in the first one each participant will be paired with a designer according to aesthetic and expressive style; the second individual session will be with Pamela McQueen. These individual sessions can take place online (to be agreed between participants, designers, and facilitator).  

⎯  Assessment & Evaluation

– Participants are required to provide a report after completing the programme, including feedback on the overall experience.

– Participants will be part of a table review at the end of the programme to provide feedback, identifying aspects that were successful and aspects that could be improved.


Please note that the last in-person session will happen after the individual ones, and there will be a celebratory final wrap-up event at Project Arts Centre.

* If you are not available for one or two sessions, please, contact us on production[at]


10th April – 5th June 2024, 10am – 1pm

In-person group sessions.

10th – 21st June 2024

Individual sessions to be scheduled according to designers and participants availability. These can take place online or in person.

26th June 2024 (TBC)

Final session + celebratory event at Project Arts Centre

Bursary & Supports

Participants will be supported with a bursary of €100 per session.

There is also a small budget to cover travel, childcare, access and other costs. Please, indicate such needs in your application form (details on how to apply below).

Who Can Apply?

We aim to bring together a mix of diverse voices to reflect the rich and vibrant community of emerging theatre artists in Ireland.

We would like to hear from artists who:

  • Have an interest in:

    • deepening their understanding of scenography and how design elements can be achieved;

    • develop their own visual and aesthetic style; or gain conceptual and practical knowledge on performance design, while developing a vocabulary to better communicate their ideas to design teams.

  • Have an established practice and track record of one full-length professional production: self-produced or programmed/produced by an established production company, festival, or independent producer;

  • Are residents on the island of Ireland;

If you are interested in the programme, but you are not sure if you are eligible to apply, please do not assume you are not. We encourage you to get in touch with Noelia Ruiz, ISPD’s producer, via email at production[at]  

Application Process

Deadline: Monday 26.02.2024 at 3pm

Shortlisted candidates contact date: Friday 15.03.2024

Shortlisted candidates Zoom interview: Tuesday 19.03.2024

Selected participants will be contacted on Wednesday 20th March.

To apply please complete the application form here.

In the application form you are required to provide the following:

  • How this programme will benefit you at this particular moment of your career (300 words approximately)
  • How you approach the creative process when starting a new project (300 words approximately)
  • Submit an idea you would like to work on during this programme.  Please note that this programme is not intended to create the design of a production but rather to explore possibilities, and helping you develop your own visual and aesthetic style. (500 words maximum)

You will be required to upload the following:

  • A CV highlighting your work in professional theatre with an emphasis on your credited productions, and theatre-maker contributions (maximum 2x A4 pages).
  • Evidence of your previously professionally produced play(s) e.g., reviews, programme, poster/flyer, video links, images, website. A maximum of 3 items will be accepted; larger files can be submitted via Dropbox or WeTransfer. Please note that evidence of staged/rehearsed readings and amateur productions will not be considered.

Selection Process

Applications will be reviewed by ISPD and ITI for eligibility and initial review.

Assessment and selection will be done by a peer panel, including the curator, the lead designer, a member of ITI, and a member of ISPD’s committee.

The applications will be read over three weeks, and then the panel will meet to discuss and deliberate to make the final selection.

Further Questions and/or Assistance

Please, note that Irish Theatre Institute is not a wheelchair accessible space.

Access support is available for all applications, including alternative formats and tailored assistance. If you would prefer to meet one of our team to talk through these guidelines or would like to submit your application in another format (like video), please contact us on production[at]

If you are selected for the award, we will complete an access requirement audit as part of the induction process to identify and make a plan to meet your needs.

If you have any queries or there are barriers you feel limit your access to the award or application process, please get in touch directly so we can best support you within the means available to us.

ITI and ISPD are determined to ensure the artists supported through their programmes represent contemporary Ireland.  If anyone has any questions, worries, or concerns or before anyone potentially rules themselves out of applying, please contact us at production[at]

Explore Design Mentorship Programme

Explore Design is  funded by The Arts Council Arts Grant Funding 2024

It is presented in partnership with Irish Theatre Institute and supported by Project Arts Centre