NSDF is a National Organisation

We are committed to honouring the ‘National’ in our title, in every sense of the word.

We want a Festival where people from backgrounds that never meet, do meet. 

We want to encourage the next generation of emerging young artists, critics, producers, technicians,  administrators and audience members to come together with people from very different backgrounds and from across the whole country; to learn from each other, to discuss, debate, collaborate and, for one week, to step beyond their particular understanding of the world. NSDF believes in diversity and seeks to represent the UK as a whole.

NSDF is a Practical organisation

The primary purpose of NSDF is to make things: whether it is a Festival, a show, a magazine article or the beginnings of a lifelong working partnership.  

NSDF is ferociously practical: and all its staff share this aim, and have the genuine industry experience to fulfil this ethos. NSDF exists to share knowledge gained from the practical art of doing. Whilst NSDF is committed to programming debates and discussions of the highest order, these events exist to allow us to make more, with greater skill and knowledge. 

NSDF is the link between young people and the real world of making things

NSDF seeks to offer a real world, practical place to learn and grow. Our staff will always be drawn from the best and brightest of the theatre industry. 

NSDF believes in building new artistic communities

NSDF believes that if you bring together groups of people with good intent you can change the world. It is the continual aspiration of NSDF to help build and renew the full range of the theatre community: performers, writers, directors, producers, critics, off stage professionals and perhaps most vitally the audience of the future. 

NSDF wants to build life-long communities

The key strength of NSDF is in the long term bonds it makes. 

A week at NSDF can change your life. NSDF facilitates collaborations which can endure decades. NSDF wants young people to meet their peers from every part of the country and to forge lifelong collaborations. Alongside this NSDF is immensely proud that people who started as students at the Festival are now Board Members. It is an organisation which seeks to build lifelong relationships, and to maintain them with our alumni. The key strength of NSDF is in the long term bonds it makes. 


NSDF believes anyone can have a voice, on any subject

NSDF believes imagination is a supremely important and a moral act, and that the chance to seek to express yourself is one which must be available to everybody regardless of any aspect of their background. 

NSDF is Sustainable

NSDF was founded in 1956, and is committed to sound management and the financial sustainability that will allow it to continue for another seventy years. Alongside this NSDF believes in a sustainable environmental future for our industry and our planet. 

NSDF aspires to be Necessary

It is necessary that there is a place where young people can come together to imagine and to think and to argue and to make things. It is necessary that we do not forget that art makes our world comprehensible and bearable and that it improves everything it touches. It is necessary that more experienced generations come together to pass on their knowledge. It was always necessary. But it’s doubly necessary now: when cuts to the arts and to arts education have limited possibilities for so many, when every institution we thought we could rely on seems somehow to have failed but we must still continue not just to endure but to hope. 

NSDF is kind

NSDF is a place where what should happen, does happen. Not just in the making of work but in every aspect of how we work and cooperate together. NSDF seeks to be a place of usefulness, generosity and decency. If we have a resource that you need and we can help, then we always will.