AFFA 2021 Theatre Makers Finalists Announced!

Josie Dale-Jones, Matilda Ibini, Urielle Klein-Mekongo and Keisha Thompson have been chosen as finalists for the  £10,000 award, with support from the Maria Björnson Memorial Fund .

They were chosen from long list of nominated UK-based experimental theatre-makers who lead their audiences on a unique journey through their creative methods and process, by a panel of experts made up of Director of Battersea Arts Centre, Tarek Iskander, performer and maker Bryony Kimmings, and Artistic Director of Manchester International Festival, John McGrath.

Josie Dale-Jones is an artist who clearly believes in the power of her art to incite change, and has the remarkable craftsmanship and talent to realise those ideas. Josie’s art is always brave, always surprising, always uncompromising – I can’t wait to see what she might do next.” – Tarek Iskander

“Matilda Ibini has that rare thing that many theatre practitioners dream of… a unique and effortless voice. Part geek, part soothsayer, part reluctant activist her work is exciting, other worldly and honest. Ibini deserves more accolades” – Bryony Kimmings

“Urielle Klein-Mekongo is clearly a truly significant voice. With a style that moves easily from spoken word to dialogue to lyric, she is helping to re-invent theatre as a relevant and powerful medium for a new generation.  The judges were impressed by her vision, truthfulness and creativity.” – John McGrath

“Keisha Thompson is an artistic force to be reckoned with.  Her politics are resonant and surprising.  Her use of theatrical form is thoughtful and inventive.  Her open-ness to influences and inspirations is invigorating. A voice for the present and the future.” – John McGrath

UK Theatre workers have faced unprecedented challenges over the past months, and we are delighted to continue our support of the performing arts. Previous Arts Foundation Fellows include Alice Birch (Playwriting, 2014), Chloe Lamford (Design for Performance, 2013), Rufus Norris (Theatre Directing, 2002), Sarah Kane (Playwriting, 1998) and Alexander Zeldin (Performing Arts, 2018). More information about our Performing Arts Fellows can be found in our directory.

The Theatre Makers award is the first in an exciting series of three annual theatre-themed awards, made possible by the Maria Björnson Memorial Fund. The fund was set up to honour the brilliant theatre, ballet and opera designer Maria Björnson who died in 2002. Her best known design was for the Phantom of the Opera for which she received a plethora of awards, although she designed for many other organisations including the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre, the Royal Opera, the Royal Ballet, Glyndebourne Opera, English National Opera, Welsh National Opera, Scottish Opera, Sydney Opera, La Scala, in the West End and on Broadway.
The recipient of the 2021 Fellowship along with four further £10,000 awards in Visual Arts, Choral Composition, Environmental Writing and Materials Innovation will be announced at the Arts Foundation Futures Awards on the 27th Jan, 2021 at an online evening of celebration from 7pm. The three runners-up will receive £1,000 awards towards their practice. Please check the AFFA2021 pages for details of all the finalists.

Image above from Dismantle (2020) by Josie Dale-Jones