There are several awards and funding options available for musicians, or aspiring musicians, who are blind or partially sighted.
These include the Elizabeth Eagle-Bott Memorial Fund awards, funding for specific activities from the Amber Trust, the Webster and Davidson Mortification for the Blind support for young people pursuing a musical career, and Help Musicians UK which is an independent charity that offers financial support to musicians throughout their career.
The EEBMF aims to support as many blind and partially sighted musicians as possible. From 2022 to 2026, it will be making available:
Awards of up to £2,000 for individuals (Application Form A)
Awards of up to £5,000 for third party applications (Application Form B).
Elizabeth Eagle-Bott’s great interest was music. She learnt to play the organ in her sixties and played for her parish church for 20 years. Her desire to assist young musicians with sight loss came from her attending an organ recital given by a student, who was blind, at the Royal College of Music.
She realised that it costs students far more to train for a career in music if they have little or no vision. To make a career in music an option for more people, she made generous financial support available to blind and partially sighted people who are musicians, or who aspire to be musicians.
The first phase of the award, from 2000 to 2009, allocated almost £100,000 to young classical musicians with a particular focus on preparing them for paid employment in the music business.
The second phase of the award, from 2010 to 2015, spent just under £200,000 on a broader basis, including supporting third parties working on behalf of blind and partially sighted musicians. Applicants were also asked to consider the community impact of their bids.
The EEBF has enabled the website Raised Bar to develop the SurfaceReader application, which provides improved speech feedback from audio production programs on Windows or Mac OSX. Control surfaces are hardware devices that allow more natural manipulation of music/audio data by providing buttons, knobs and faders which are more appropriate for performing these kinds of interactions. SurfaceReader is an on-going project, with new features and more devices being added as new hardware becomes available.
Applicants who include relevant and realistic aims in their application, and link these to regular music work of activity, are given priority.
For individual blind and partially sighted musicians, the awards may be used in the following ways:
Development of new musical projects that take account of any possible ongoing restrictions relating to Covid-19
Purchase of mainstream and specialist equipment (software and hardware) to enable remote working, video conferencing, live streaming or other online development related to your musical work
Training in the use of such equipment or in the use of digital technology and online platforms
Tuition, professional development, mentoring, coaching or the acquisition of qualifications linked to your current or planned musical activities
Business mentoring and coaching to enable greater resilience during periods of home-working
Financial hardship directly attributable to Covid-19 to cover immediate living costs.
For third parties making applications on behalf of blind and partially sighted musicians, the EEBMF considers applications for projects, resources, training and activities that will support blind and partially sighted musicians over the age of 18.
The awards are not intended to reimburse lost earnings for specific work, nor to pay for ongoing costs associated with day-to-day musical work and activities.
Applicants are expected to have explored alternative sources of funding where possible.
The awards are open to blind and partially sighted musicians who live in the UK. Priority will be given to those who are either studying music or who earn the majority of their income through music.
Previous awardees and applicants to the EEBMF are welcome to apply.
In order to apply for an award from the EEBMF, please complete either Application form A (for blind and partially sighted individuals) or Application form B (for third party applications) which are available from [email protected] and email this back to [email protected] by no later than noon on Thursday 31 March 2022.
Applicants will be notified during the week of 25 April with interviews to be held on Tuesday 17 May via Zoom.
For any further information, or to discuss a possible application, please contact [email protected].
Thanks to funding from EEB, MuseScore has included the main features needed to produce Modified Stave Notation (MSN) in its latest release, version two, of its free music notation package, visit the MuseScore website for more information. For more information about MSN, please see the relevant links on the UKAAF website and the RNIB Music Advisory Service.
The Amber Trust was set up in 1995 to help blind and partially sighted children up to the age of 18, including those with additional disabilities, to access and enjoy music. Each year, the Amber Trust aims to raise around £100,000 to help as many children as possible reach their full potential. To enable blind or partially sighted children, from toddlers to teenagers, to access the music they enjoy, the Amber Trust provides funding for:
music therapy sessions
the purchase of musical instruments
software or other equipment
travel related to musical activities.
The Webster and Davidson Mortification for the Blind was set up by the Scottish legal firm Thornton’s to assist blind and partially sighted young people. The Trust's annual income provides a Musical Education Award and funding towards educational visits.
The Trustees give awards to blind and partially sighted people to support their learning and appreciation of music, generally, but not exclusively, at secondary level of school study or further education or degree study. Recipients are usually awarded bursaries (normally tenable for one year with the possibility of renewal) and also in the form of grants for specific musical purposes. The trusts funds are not extensive and preference will be given to persons resident, or normally resident, in Scotland.
A PDF application form is available to download directly from Thornton’s Law LLP Website. Applications must be made in writing by 31 March each year.
Help Musicians UK is the leading independent charity in the UK helping musicians throughout their careers and their lives. HMUK offers practical, positive support to emerging, professional and retired musicians – whatever the genre. The charity’s Health and Welfare Team help existing professionals who, due to an unforeseen circumstance, need support. HMUK also help with long-term or terminal illness, musicians in retirement and those needing special help as they grow older.
In an ever-changing music industry, the Creative Team is determined to help musicians succeed without facing impossible financial barriers. The Creative Programme’s support is delivered in two main ways: tailored schemes offering funding directly to individuals and groups, and development opportunities offered by partner organisations, funded or part-funded by Help Musicians UK.
In addition to the above funds, RNIB has a page containing details of grants from other organisations which can help with financial assistance.