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About the Trust

The Oppenheim-John Downes Memorial Trust provides small scale grants to British artists, designers, writers and performers over the age of 30 who are experiencing financial difficulties in the pursuit of their careers.

The Trust was established under the will of Mrs Geraldine Elsie Downes on her death in December 1969. Mrs Downes named the Trust in memory of her father, the author E Phillips Oppenheim, and her son, John Downes.


Awards are made in December each year, and typically range from £250 - £1,000. Applications may be submitted from the 1 June until the 2 October in order to be considered for an award within the same calendar year.

The Trust welcomes applications from professional or aspiring artists, designers, writers and performers working in any of the following disciplines:

  • Visual arts (including painting, printmaking, photography, sculpture and work in other media)
  • Crafts (including ceramics, glass, metalwork, woodcarving, textiles and work in other media)
  • Music (musicians, composers and conductors)
  • Design (including fashion, product design/innovation and work in digital media)
  • Performing arts (actors, dancers and individual performance artists of any other kind)
  • Creative writing (poets, novelists, librettists and creative writers of any other kind)
  • Film & digital media

The Trustees are also happy to consider applications from arts and crafts specialists involved in the restoration and preservation of architectural and cultural artefacts, such as gilders, stone carvers and conservators.

Please note that the Trustees may give priority to applications from artists that have not previously benefitted from an award.

What can be funded?

Applicants must set out clearly in their application form the purpose for which funding is required, and include evidence of financial need. Awards may be granted for a wide range of purposes. For example,

  • Materials and/or equipment
  • Research
  • Travel
  • Production costs

Please note that with effect from 2020, the Trust will not accept applications for the following purposes:

  • Higher or Further Education course fees*
  • General living expenses
  • Debt relief

*Applicants enrolled in educational courses may still apply for funds to support their studies with a contribution towards the costs of materials, travel or research activities.

Eligibility criteria

You must be over 30 years old on 1 December in the year that you apply in order to be eligible for an award, and also be a British Subject born within Great Britain, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man. See terms and conditions for further details.

If you would like to apply, please use the links to the left to download an application form or contact us to request a form through the post. Your application form will contain instructions on where to send it.

The Oppenheim-John Downes Memorial Trust is a charity registered in England and Wales under number 278844.

Apply Now

Please use the link below to complete our online application form:
apply now

If you have any problems accessing or completing the form, please email us for assistance.

Please note a digital copy of your application will be emailed to you automatically shortly after you have submitted it.