Call for Community Groups: Light and Dark Festival - Sutton STEAMs Ahead

As part of the Sutton STEAMs Ahead 2023, the London Borough of Sutton has developed an exciting new opportunity for community groups running events between 1 October 2023 and 4 February 2024. The Light & Dark Festival aims to support up to eight (8) Sutton-based events around the theme of “Light & Dark” that are run by local community groups looking to explore the use of lights and technology during their events.


up to eight (8) individual awards of up to £4,000 for one-off events, as well as the further opportunity to take part in a larger collaborative event in Sutton Central Library Gallery space in January 2024.


London Borough of Sutton


Between October 2023 to February 2024


Sutton-based Community Groups

Fees & Benefits:

Maximum £32,000 total funding available consisting of up to 8 awards of maximum £4,000 for Sutton-based community groups for one-off events


Application submission for this opportunity will be via email


10am on 21 August 2023

Full Brief

Autumn and Winter bring darker and colder months of the year, and for many across the world the theme of light and dark play significant cultural roles in celebrations during this time. While the individual customs and practices may differ, the underlying theme often revolves around the triumph of light over darkness and the hope for renewal and warmth during the coldest and darkest time of the year. Examples include, but are not limited to Diwali, Christmas, Hanukkah and the Winter Solstice.

Exploring ideas from the cultural and historical traditions and/or natural rhythms and scientific phenomena, the Light & Dark Festival connects and elevates Sutton’s diverse community by exploring the winter festivities celebrated across the borough, as well as exploring how creative technology can add value to the future of light festivals. The Sutton STEAMs Ahead project revolves around Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics and for this reason this festival’s aim is to shed light on the beauty of cultural diversity, the science behind illumination, and how creativity and technology can create a more captivating cultural experience for visitors.

Each individually funded event will then become part of the Light & Dark Festival, a series of events taking place between October 2023 and February 2024. There will also be one larger immersive light and dark themed event, as part of the Festival in the Sutton Central Library Gallery in January 2024.

We are seeking applications from community groups that are looking to amplify their events and performances through the use of technology. Technologies used in your festival can be light technology such as: projections, projection mapping, LEDs, Blacklight, etc. It can also include other technological elements such as sound and video. We are particularly interested in applications that are considerate of energy use and the environment.

The maximum funding available for one event is £4,000. We are keen for community groups to collaborate, so where there are multiple applications for the same themed event, we may ask applicants to explore working together. Applicants can have pre-developed ideas about how they will use light and technology, and also have technical or creative collaborators they work with already. We also accept applications from community groups that are interested, but wish to receive support from Sutton Council to find a creative practitioner or technician to support their event. In all cases, the cost of this will be covered by the applicant with the grant provided.

We are seeking applicants who are interested in co-creating and participating in a larger event that brings these groups together to explore light and dark as part of an immersive experience in Sutton in the month of January. An immersive experience is an engaging and interactive encounter that transports individuals into a sensory-rich environment, captivating them through sound, light and performances.


The Sutton STEAMs Ahead project has been made possible through a Mayor of London Cultural Impact Award. Cultural Impact Awards are part of the Mayor of London’s wider London Borough of Culture programme. Sutton STEAMs Ahead uniquely blends arts and science and was initially inspired by the ground breaking work taking place in Sutton at The London Cancer Hub (LCH).

Sutton STEAMs Ahead launched on World Cancer Day 2023 (4 February) and has since seen a variety of events and opportunities throughout the year that have seen Sutton. The Light & Dark Festival is a culmination of a year of discovery and connecting people. Our aim is that this opportunity supports in elevating new and existing community-led winter celebrations across the borough, fostering better relationships between council and the community, as well as sparking new ideas and collaborations.

How to apply

Applicants can be not for profit organisations, voluntary associations, community-based organisations, faith-based groups or even informal groups based in Sutton. Applications from all cultural backgrounds are welcome. We particularly encourage applications from Black, Asian and Global Majority backgrounds.

Proposals should be submitted in one document, max. 800 words. This document can also include images, hyperlinks to web pages, YouTube videos or other helpful references. Alternatively a link to a max 8 min video or audio recording can be submitted.

The panel will be looking for proposals that explore the following:
  • Explain how the theme of light and dark is relevant to the proposed event
  • Explain how you wish to utilise light and other technologies for the proposed event
  • Consider how the event can be inclusive and open for the whole community, and how you might reach a wider audience
  • Consider environmentally responsible practices by utilising energy-efficient technology solutions, recycled materials where possible
  • List details of the event, if known (location, visitor capacity, overall cost, technologies planned, etc.)
  • Confirm how much funds you are applying for (max £4,000)
Please send your proposal via email to before 10am on 21 August, 2023. Please use the email subject heading “Proposal Submission: Light & Dark Festival”.

Summary of Expectations & Outputs

Community Groups

  • Supply event information such as: Venue location and dates, insurance, risk assessment, etc. by latest 22 Sept, 2023. (Failure to submit this by the deadline would lead to cancellation of your funds payment and inclusion in the Light & Dark festival.)
  • Commit to using the funding provided to incorporate light and technology into the proposed event
  • Provide adequate public liability insurance coverage for the event
  • Ensure the event is as inclusive and accessible as possible
  • Where applicable, work with Sutton Council to find a creative practitioner or technician to support with the project which will be paid by the grant recipient using the funds provided
  • While the event should have it’s own identity, it must equally be promoted as part of the Light & Dark Festival and ensure the correct logos for Sutton STEAMs Ahead is included on promotional materials
  • Collect feedback forms from visitors of the event and provide attendee numbers as part of the overall project evaluation
  • Fill out feedback form and submit a brief closure report as an event organiser for the project evaluation

London Borough of Sutton (LBS)

  • Max. £32,000 total funding available, split up into up to 8 awards of up to £4,000 for Sutton-based community groups
  • Promote the event and the community group activities on the Sutton STEAMs Ahead website and on social media
  • Contribute towards some access support costs if required
  • Support with finding a suitable venue, where required and as capacity allows. (Please note that the funding should cover the venue hire costs if applicable, no further funds will be made available.)
  • Support with volunteers helping with the events, where required and capacity allows

Key dates for Applicants

  • 24 July 2023: Call opens
  • 8 August 2023: Info webinar 1pm for applicants
  • 21 August 2023: Application deadline 10am
  • 22 August 2023: Application Results
  • 22 August - 14 September 2023: Meetings with successful applicants
  • 22 September 2023: Deadline for event detail submissions
  • 1 October 2023 - 4 February 2024: Delivery of event (one per successful applicant)

Further Information

An online Q&A session will take place on 15 August, 1-2pm, online to answer queries regarding the application process and questions about the residencies. To receive the link to attend this Q&A session, please register your interest by 14 August, 5pm to: