New Award ‘Music for Change’ launched by PRS and Arts Foundations

Launched in the week of Earth Day 2021 , this year the Arts Foundation has teamed up with PRS Foundation to create a new music award.  The Music for Change Award will celebrate UK based artists, songwriters, composers, producers, and experimental sound artists who have a track record of focusing on the underlying themes related to the climate crisis such as ecology, the environment and social cohesion.

The £10,000 award will incorporate music creators from all walks of the music spectrum, from Rock and Pop to Contemporary Classical and Opera, Dance and Electronic genres to Black Music genres, Jazz, Folk and everything in between. Criteria will include those who advance our thoughts about climate change and understanding of solutions as well as ecologically motivated practices and those with music practices related to community building and development, volunteering and voting. Three further finalists will receive £1,000 awards.

The Arts Foundation and PRS Foundation support the vision of the transformative role of culture and creativity and believe that interventions can enable and accelerate positive change on a larger scale, embedding deep ecological principles into the everyday.

Director of the Arts Foundation, Shelley Warren added, ‘Artists and arts organisations are increasingly being called upon to activate the social imagination, making available new ways to know and understand an increasingly complex world. Artists provide a critical lens that educates, and holds a mirror to society, influencing what gets attention in the public sphere and shaping perspective and opinion. We are delighted to be supporting with PRS Foundation such creatives with this award.’       

The Award comes at a time when the global pandemic has further identified a wide range of issues related to how society works and the importance of social cohesion and community as well as the shift in focus to local issues, social exclusion and poverty. The Music for Change award acknowledge these changes and hopes to highlight those music and sound makers who are helping to inspire and educate future generations about the important issues of today.

Ivor Novello Lifetime Achievement Award winning and PRS Foundation Chair of the Board of Trustees, Nitin Sawhney CBE said, “I’m delighted that PRS Foundation are partnering with our friends at the Arts Foundation to once again shine a light on outstanding music creators. Now is the time to recognise those music creators whose work covers climate action, sustainability and other areas of social concerns and so it is fantastic to see that this will form the criteria of the category we are supporting this year. I very much look forward to finding out which music creators in this field are nominated over the coming months.”

In Autumn 2021 four finalists will be selected from a longlist of music creators, nominated by music experts from around the UK. For more news about the award please visit our website or follow us on instagram or twitter. Or email us on

The Arts Foundation and PRS Foundation

With the inception of its fellowship scheme in 1993 the Arts Foundation has awarded over £1,900,000 to nominated artists from the fields of Performing and Visual Arts, Design, Crafts, New Media, Literature and Film. Awards of £10,000 are made to assist the artists with living and working expenses and are made on the basis of both talent and need to artists living and working in the UK. The Arts Foundation has supported creatives who are actively involved in sustainable change particularly through their design awards. In 2020 the Social Innovation in Material Design award was won by fashion designer Bethany Williams and the award attracted much critical acclaim in its ability to attract and support future thinkers in the area of materials and sustainability. In 2021 the Arts Foundation included Environmental Writing as one of their awards which was won by Joanna Pocock.

PRS Foundation is the UK’s leading charitable funder of new music and talent development. Since 2000 it has given more than £38 million to over 7,800 new music initiatives. In 2020, PRS Foundation grantees secured hundreds of high-profile nominations for major industry awards and won BRITS, AIM Awards and Ivors Awards – From 2018-20, 50% of Mercury Music Prize nominees have previously received PRS Foundation support, including winners Wolf Alice and Dave.

2021 fellow Tanoa Sasraku’s exhibition at the Sorting Office

Chelsea Sorting Office

Beset with a trail of cancellations due to the pandemic, Tanoa, who won the 2021 Arts Foundation Visual Arts award will be opening her new show ‘A Tower To Say Goodbye’ at the Chelsea Sorting Office, 18 Chelsea Manor Street, London SW3 5UH on the 18th April until the 29th April.

Tanoa Sasraku’s appliquéd, newsprint flags are inspired by the visual and material structure of the Fante Asafo war flags of coastal Ghana, which the artist’s paternal ancestors fabricated in resistance to British colonial rule. Her own flags map personal stories of a life lived in modern Britain, as classroom materials are fused together to create cryptic, ceremonial objects.

The exhibition is open daily from 10am to 6pm. Visitors are required to have a ticket to attend. You can book an appointment slot via the Eventbrite link here . Tickets are free.

Access to the exhibition is at 18 Chelsea Manor Street, SW3 5UH. Please note that this is a different entrance from previous exhibitions. A conversation with Tanoa Sasraku accompanies the exhibition and is available at the exhibition and on the General Release website.

Face coverings must be worn and social distancing maintained during your visit.

LIVE: Studio Wayne McGregor’s The Dante Project

AF Fellow and Ambassador Wayne McGregor of Studio Wayne McGregor has announced The Dante Project with The London Royal Ballet this October!⁠ ⁠

The Dante Project⁠ 2021⁠ ⁠

Company⁠ The Royal Ballet⁠ ⁠

Choreography⁠ Wayne McGregor⁠ ⁠

Music⁠ Thomas Adès⁠ ⁠

Set and Costume Design⁠ Tacita Dean ⁠ ⁠

Lighting Design⁠ Act I (Inferno): Lucy Carter and Simon Bennison ⁠

Act II and III: Lucy Carter⁠ ⁠ Dramaturgy⁠ Uzma Hameed⁠ ⁠

Premiere date and venue⁠ Inferno (Act I): 12 July 2019, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Music Center, Los Angeles, California, USA⁠

The Dante Project: October 2021, The Royal Opera House, London, UK⁠ ⁠

The Dante Project is an epic journey through the afterlife, inspired by Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’.⁠ ⁠ This world premiere for The Royal Ballet features a new collaboration between Wayne McGregor and celebrated visual artist Tacita Dean alongside composer Thomas Adès, lighting designer Lucy Carter and dramaturg Uzma Hameed.⁠ ⁠ The first act of the work, Inferno, premiered in July 2019 at the Music Center in Los Angeles as part of a mixed programme celebrating the collaborative works of composer Thomas Adès and Wayne McGregor.⁠ ⁠ Commissioned by The Royal Ballet. ⁠ Music co-commission with Los Angeles Philharmonic.⁠ ⁠ Inferno was commissioned as a creative partnership between Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at The Music Center, The Royal Ballet, Company Wayne McGregor, and the LA Phil with generous support from the Lenore S. and Bernard A. Greenberg Fund.⁠ ⁠ ⁠ Image artwork by Tacita Dean.

Read more.

BOOK LAUNCH: Hollie McNish’s ‘Slug, and other things I’ve been told to hate’

The new collection of poetry and prose from the Ted Hughes Award-winning author of Nobody Told Me, AF Fellow Hollie McNish

From Finnish saunas and soppy otters to grief, grandparents and Kellogg’s anti-masturbation pants, Slug is a book which holds a mirror lovingly up to the world, past and present, through Hollie’s driving, funny, hopeful poetry and prose. Slug is about the human condition: of birth and death and how we manage the possibilities in-between.

Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group

Click here to preorder and find tour dates and tickets

READ: Materials Innovation Winner Shneel Malik speaks to Studio International

Shneel Malik – interview:

I’m a crazy optimist. I know that the right opportunity comes at the right time

Architect and bio-designer Shneel Malik discusses bio-algae, eco-aesthetics, artisans pioneering ecological waste-water treatment, and the next steps for her award-winning Indus project

“Water pollution is one of the largest contributors to climate change and the largest environmental cause of death in the world,” so begins the Youtube clip introducing the architect turned bio-designer Shneel Malik’s Indus project, which has been awarded the 2021 Arts Foundation Prize for Materials Innovation. This elegant design proposes applying handmade, locally produced ceramic tiles to the exterior wall of a building, their carefully contoured grooves filled with bio-algae that clean waste water as it passes over their surface from a top-mounted dispenser, to be recirculated into the factory from the trough at its base.

Read more on the Studio International website.

WATCH: Mariana Simnett releases two new films

AF Fellow Marianna Simnett, Film and Video Umbrella and the Rothschild Foundation are pleased to announce a month-long online screening of Marianna Simnett’s The Bird Game (2019), accompanied by a new film Confessions of a Crow (2021).

Launch date: 18th March 2021
Closing date: 17th April 2021

Watch Link for both films:

Confessions of a Crow is a companion to The Bird Game that draws out the ideas and influences of the film and deftly echoes its structure and mood. Assembling reflections from artists, writers and creative collaborators, it integrates them with the maverick musical musings of Simnett’s ringleader Crow herself.

Writers Marina Warner, Charlie Fox and James Bridle, artist Lindsey Mendick, and composer Oliver Coates speak eloquently about The Bird Game’s overlapping themes, which range from the insidious impact of new digital technologies to the enduring power of fantasy and mythology, and focus on the hypnotic, addictive and increasingly sleepless hyperactivity of contemporary life. With the aid of behind-the-
scenes footage and archive photographs of Waddesdon Manor, where The Bird Game was shot, Simnett dives into the history of the house which accommodated evacuee children in the Second World War, and to this day houses some of the rarest species of songbirds in its magnificent aviary. The troubling link between caging and caring is teased out through Crow’s terrifying grip on her child-prey, and her shifting role between abuser and abused.

The Bird Game was commissioned to mark the 150th anniversary of the Evelina Children’s Hospital for Sick Children, named after the wife of Ferdinand de Rothschild who also created Waddesdon Manor, and comes at a time when the mental health of the young has become a matter of growing attention and concern.

“Crow says anyone can play The Bird Game. In fact, you only need to look around to realise it’s already being played by millions all over the world. But you have to be ready to play. The Bird Game is for those whose brains can’t be fried by corrosive systems. The Bird Game is for the mutants and monsters and mermaids and cyborgs and aliens and werewolves and unicorns. Crow says we are all sick, every one of us,
yes you and you and you and you and you and you and yes you too. And the sooner you get along with that the sooner you’ll win the game. Another thing. In The Bird Game, the rules can change at any moment. There is no stable ground to stand on. And so the only thing to do is to stay alert, embrace the strangeness and fly into the flame.”
–Marianna Simnett

“a modern fable of abuse, trauma and transformation.”

“in the same way that Crow gets into the brains of these children, Simnett affects us
as our expectations are artfully subverted around each turn.”

–Millenium Film Journal

The Bird Game (2019) by Marianna Simnett.

Co-written by Marianna Simnett and Charlie Fox,

starring Joanne Whalley as “Crow,”

produced by Sophie Neave,

shot by Robbie Ryan BSC,

with music by Oliver Coates.

Produced by Film and Video Umbrella. Co-commissioned by the Rothschild Foundation, Frans Hals Museum, and Film and Video Umbrella. FVU is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. Waddesdon Manor is owned by the National Trust and managed by the Rothschild Foundation.

WATCH: balletLORENT’s online programme of video performances

balletLORENT, Directed by AF Fellow Liv Lorent, are growing their online program of video performances!⁠

Now showing⁠:

International Women’s Day 2021⁠

Film: The Lost Happy Endings Film⁠
Exclusive to Marquee TV⁠

Film: Rumpelstiltskin Film⁠
On Marquee TV & Sky Arts⁠

View on balletLORENT’s website.

Image from ANIMALIA (2021)⁠

Being pregnant. It’s an odyssey.⁠

A takeover of body and soul. Some say after becoming parent your heart will forever live outside your body. How do you get ready for that?⁠

A life as a performer, who has given everything to the audience and the art form, is about to confront the essentials of being an animal too.⁠

Our bodies change as we become a mother. We become feeder and soft furnishing as mothers. It can be a frightening thought, especially in those mad pregnancy dreams.⁠

Growing a baby and getting ready to give birth is not a pastel experience. It is not fragrant and soft focus and mumsy. It is becoming your most primal, and facing yourself and your capacity to survive, love and protect. It’s facing the eye of the storm.⁠

COVID 19: Hardship Grants and Professional Resources

The current coronavirus pandemic is causing unprecedented disruption to the arts, and the most vulnerable workers are often the artists and creatives themselves. Resources are popping up everywhere, and we are curating a regularly updated list of the most useful resources and best advice that we can find, along with all the grants that we are aware of.


Arts Support

Arts Council Open Funds

Arts Minds – Supporting mental health

The Craft Council’s Covid Resource App

Arts Professional’s CovidCulture Resource Page

GRANTfinder’s Coronavirus resource page

Trussell Trust: Find a Food Bank



The Royal Variety Charity Grant


Film and TV

Film + TV Charity’s Resource Guide

Film + TV Charity Financial Support



Association of Independent Music FAQ

Help Musicians’ Financial Hardship Fund

Musician’s Union Hardship Fund

The Royal Society of Musicians of Great Britain

Help Musicians



The Royal Theatrical Fund’s Theatre Community Fund

Equity Welfare Trust – Welfare Grants



The Actors’ Benevolent Fund



Dance Professionals’ Fund


Visual Arts

The Eaton Fund

Axis Hardship Fund

The Artists’ General Benevolent Institution



Writer’s Guild Hardship Fund

Author’s Emergency Fund

The Writers’ Union Welfare Fund

Royal Literary Fund

The Society of Authors – Authors’ Contingency Fund


Arts and Social Welfare

Gane Trust Fund


Arts and Disability

MFPA Trust Fund for Disabled Children in the Arts


Young People

Philip Bates Trust Fund


Regional Support

Bristol, Bath & North East Somerset, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Quartet Community Foundation

Cambridgeshire Community Foundation

Cheshire Community Foundation

Cornwall Community Foundation

Coventry and Warwickshire Heart of England Community Foundation

Cumbria Community Foundation

Derbyshire Foundation’s Coronavirus Fund

Devon Coronavirus Response and Recovery Fund

Essex Community Foundation

Gloucestershire Community Foundation

Kent Community Foundation

Leicestershire and Rutland Community Foundation

Milton Keynes Community Foundation

Northern Ireland – The Community Foundation

North Wales, Merseyside, Cheshire and North Shropshire – Steve Morgan Foundation

Scotland – Creative Scotland’s Funding Programmes

Tyne & Wear and Northumberland Community Foundation

York, North Yorkshire, the East Riding of Yorkshire and Hull – Two Ridings Community Foundation

EVENT: AF Fellows Angie Bual and Mervyn Millar team up for The Hatchling this August

The Hatchling: World Premiere
14 & 15 August 2021

A spectacular dragon will hatch in Plymouth City Centre this summer, and grow to the size of a double-decker bus!

Where will her journey take her? Will she find herself a new home? And ultimately, will she FLY?

The Hatchling is a ground-breaking outdoor theatrical performance that will unfold over a weekend of events and reaches an extraordinary finale over the coast of Plymouth. Our beautiful visitor will hatch in the city, build herself a nest and then attempt to take to the skies in a bid for her freedom. Along the way, she’ll explore the city, and as she roams, she’ll encounter a series of events from intimate interactions to city-wide performances, prepared especially for her majestic visit.

At the end of her journey our hatchling will undergo an incredible metamorphosis, unfurl her wings, and attempt to soar over the sea at sunset! With a wingspan of over 20 metres, our hatchling is the world’s largest human-operated puppet to attempt flight.

Join us this summer for a spectacular adventure never to be forgotten.

Created by a leading design team specialising in puppetry, kites and immersive theatre, this is an unforgettable world premiere taking place in Plymouth this summer.  The Hatchling will bring together artists, community groups and city partners to create a public artwork of ground-breaking ambition – a cultural icon that will unite people from all walks of life.

Conceived by Angie Bual, Artistic Director and producer at Trigger

Directed by Mervyn Millar, Puppetry Director (War Horse, Significant Object)

Designed by Carl Robertshaw, Production Designer (Ellie Goulding, Bjork)

Visit The Hatchling website for more information.

BOOK LAUNCH: AF Fellow Sam Lee publishes The Nightingale with Penguin

Arts Foundation Fellow Sam Lee is releasing his first book, The Nightingale, with Penguin Books on March 25!⁠

Preorder here.

‘Wondering and wonderful. The nature book of the year.‘ JOHN LEWIS-STEMPEL⁠

Come to the forest, sit by the fireside and listen to intoxicating song, as Sam Lee tells the story of the nightingale.⁠

Every year, as darkness falls upon woodlands, the nightingale heralds the arrival of Spring. For thousands of years, its sweet song has inspired musicians, writers and artists around the world, from Germany, France and Italy to Greece, Ukraine and Korea.⁠

Passionate conservationist, renowned musician and folk expert Sam Lee tells the story of the nightingale. This book reveals in beautiful detail the bird’s song, habitat, characteristics and migration patterns, as well as the environmental issues that threaten its livelihood.⁠

From Greek mythology to John Keats, to Persian poetry and ‘A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square’, Lee delves into the various ways we have celebrated the nightingale through traditions, folklore, music, literature, from ancient history to the present day. The Nightingale is a unique and lyrical portrait of a famed yet elusive songbird.⁠

‘Sam Lee has brought the poetic magic that has long enchanted so many of his musical fans into the written word. Allow yourself to glimpse the world Sam sees, to be part of his love affair with the nightingale, and you will no doubt be delighted.‘ LILY COLE⁠

‘A wonderful book.‘ STEPHEN MOSS

WATCH: AF Fellow Mervyn Millar creates puppet to play lead in Aida, at Opera de Paris

Mervyn Millar, our Arts Foundation Fellow in Puppetry (2010), has created the lead character for Opera de Paris’ production of Aida, designed in collaboration with Virginia Chihota!⁠

Live Streamed: Thurs 18 Feb at 1830. WATCH IN FULL HERE.

First performed at the Cairo Opera in 1871, Aida draws us into the fantasy of a reconstructed Antiquity. At the heart of the plot, an impossible choice between love and patriotic duty: A captive Ethiopian princess and an Egyptian soldier betray their people, defy a powerful rival and unite until death. Marked by the contrast between a theatrical extravaganza and the transition towards a more intimate, personal drama, Verdi’s score manages to distinguish the inner angst of its protagonists from the imposing historical setting. The work brings together several themes dear to the composer: nostalgia for a lost homeland, deliverance through death, the contrast between a dispiriting present and an idealized elsewhere, the stifling reach of religious and political power, the regulating factors in a world intentionally littered with pitfalls.⁠

For her Paris Opera debut, Dutch director Lotte de Beer has chosen to cast a critical eye on the European portrayal of colonised peoples, encouraging us to rethink our relationship with aesthetic productions of the past and present.

READ: Edward Burtynsky’s environmental images from the AFFAs!

Acclaimed photographer Edward Burtynsky provided the 2021 Arts Foundation Future’s Awards Ceremony  with imagery from his extraordinary work focused on the Anthropocene! Inspired by our award in Environmental Writing and our sustainably minded Finalists for our Materials Innovation Award, this year’s Awards explored how creativity can also address issues around the climate crisis, with Special Guest and Environmentalist Lily Cole.

Photographs by Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Flowers Gallery, London / Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto.

Read the story behind each of his works:

Cerro Prieto Geothermal Power Station in Baja California, Mexico (2012). 

Cerro Prieto is the world’s largest complex of geothermal power stations in terms of overall size and the second-largest in terms of energy output. Geothermal power is considered to be a sustainable, renewable source of energy because the heat extraction is small compared with the Earth’s heat content. The greenhouse gas emissions of geothermal electric stations are on average 45 grams of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour of electricity, or less than 5 percent of that of conventional coal-fired plants.⁠


Uralkali Potash Mine #4, Berezniki, Russia (2017)

Potash is a potassium-based salt which is used mostly to make fertilizer. Ten percent of the world’s supply comes from the Uralkali mines in Russia. This mine tunnel and its drill patterns are all man made. The city of Berexniki, formerly a Soviet era labor camp, sits above the mine, and several sinkholes, some huge, have opened within the city. The mines supply products to over 60 countries including Brazil, India, China, Southeast Asia, Russia, USA, and Europe. In 2018 Uralkali dug out 11.5 million tonnes of potash.


Clearcut #1, Palm Oil Plantation, Borneo, Malaysia (2016)

Oil palms yield more oil per acre than other crops, however soaring demand for the world’s most popular vegetable oil has led to extensive deforestation and loss of wildlife in Indonesia and Malaysia, the biggest producers. 86 percent of deforestation in Malaysia from 1995-2000 was for oil palm plantations. Several studies have found an 80-90% reduction in biological diversity following forest conversion to oil palm plantation.


Morenci Mine #2, Clifton, Arizona, USA (2012)

This open pit mine in southeast Arizona is so large that it swallows up U.S. Route 191. Travelers driving south along the highway will be surprised to emerge from upland pine forests into a desolate, Martian-like landscape. This is the Morenci Mine, one of the largest copper mines in the world.


Log Booms #1, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada (2016)

For the past hundred years, British Columbia has built its economic wealth on the extraction of resources. With the advent of industrial-scale logging in the 1950s, a staggering amount of wood began to be cut. Less than 10% of Vancouver Island’s original old growth forests are protected by law, and today the number of trees cut in B.C. each year would fill enough logging trucks to circle the globe one and a quarter times.


Carrara Marble Quarries, Carbonera Quarry #1, Carrara, Italy (2016)

Carrara marble is a type of white or blue-grey marble, favoured by Michaelangelo used since the time of Ancient Rome when it was called the “Luni marble”. It is quarried in the city of Carrara in the province of Massa and Carrara in the Lunigiana, the northernmost tip of modern-day Tuscany, Italy. But much more has been extracted in the past 30-40 years compared to 2,000 years ago. Around 75% of marble extraction are not blocks but small stones and powder used to produce calcium carbonate. Calcium carbonate is everywhere, used as a base for toothpaste, cosmetics, glues, detergents and ceramics. The popularity of this material results in the over-exploitation of the quarry, turning the mountains white at a concerning pace.


PS10 Solar Power Plant, Seville, Spain (2013)

Located in the Andalusian countryside in the municipality of Sanlucar la Mayor, the 40-storey concrete tower collects sunlight reflected by a field of 624 huge mirrors. The light is so intense that it lights up dust and water vapour in the air. The plant was completed in 2013 and produces approximately 300MW of energy for approximately 180,000 homes – equivalent to the needs of the city of Seville. It will offset emissions of over 600,000t of CO₂ into the atmosphere a year over its 25-year life.

LISTEN: 2021 AFFA Winners featured on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row!

We are delighted to announce that our five 2021 Arts Foundation Fellows have appeared on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row, every Friday for 5 weeks!⁠ Front Row is a live magazine programme on the worlds of arts, literature, film, media and music, and past episodes are available to listen to as podcasts.

Episodes list:

29 Jan – Tanoa Sasraku, Visual Arts. Listen here.

5 Feb – Keisha Thompson, Theatre Makers. Listen here.

12 Feb – Shneel Malik, Materials Innovation. Listen here.

19 Feb – John Barber, Choral Composition. Listen here.

26 Feb – Joanna Pocock, Environmental Writing. Listen here.

PRESS: 2021 Arts Foundation Futures Awards Press Releases

WATCH: Jazz legend Orphy Robinson MBE performing original new work live at the AFFAs!

Jazz legend Orphy Robinson MBE composed and performed new original work, Climate – that’s nature, man live at the 2021 AFFAs! ⁠

With a career spanning more than 40 years, he has played on over 100 recordings, won or been nominated for numerous industry awards, including winning the Jazz FM’s Live Performance of the Year in 2017. ⁠

The past 5 years, Orphy has featured in the top 12 placing in the Critics Poll for ‘Vibraphonist of the Year’ in the historic jazz magazine Downbeat. ⁠

Orphy is regularly invited to perform with internationally acclaimed artists from many genres of music these have included such diverse artists as Nigel Kennedy, Carleen Anderson, Dr Robert (Blow Monkeys) Wadada Leo Smith, Thurston Moore, Joss Stone, Robert Plant, Robert Wyatt, Hugh Masekela and Courtney Pine.⁠

Orphy sits on various Boards including the Ivor’s Academy where he is the Chair of the Jazz genre committee. ⁠
He is a Trustee and Vice Chair of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra and Trustee on the Jazz Promoters Network.⁠
He is on the judging panel for many top industry awards these include the Ivor Novello Awards, The British Composer Awards & The Commonwealth Resounds International composition Competition. ⁠

In 2018, Robinson was awarded an MBE for services to music. ⁠

WATCH: AFFA Special Guest Lily Cole speaking to us at the Arts Foundation Futures Awards!

We were delighted to be joined by Lily Cole at this years AFFAs!

Lily is a committed environmentalist, writing regularly for media including The Guardian, Vogue and the FT. Her first book, Who Cares Wins: Reasons for Optimism in our Changing World, was published by Penguin in 2020. Lily spent four years researching this work, and interviewing hundreds of people around the world who are working on environmental solutions, from technologists and scientists, to activists and indigenous leaders. In tandem with the book, she has produced a series of podcasts interviewing leading experts, activists and founders on topics such as technology, food, gender and capitalism. Tune in here.

To view the 2021 AFFA brochure, click here.

READ: Our 2021 Arts Foundation Futures Award Brochure

We are delighted to release a full and detailed brochure for our 2021 Arts Foundation Futures Award!

To find out more ab0ut our Finalists, the awards, and the Arts Foundation, have a look through the Brochure here.

AF Fellow Lydia Ourahmane exhibiting at Kunsthalle Basel

Lydia Ourahmane
15. Jan 2021 –05. Apr 2021

A ransom, an illicit border crossing, an exchange of nationality: Transactions of different sorts are often the conceptual starting point for Lydia Ourahmane’s (* 1992) art. The results encompass video, sound, performance, sculpture, and installation, exploring the way histories of displacement and colonial oppression are inscribed upon bodies. For her first exhibition in Switzerland, the Algerian-born artist presents a newly commissioned work.

Read more

AF 2020 Comics Fellow : Esther McManus is finding new ways to make work for a new world

We spoke to AF Fellow Esther McManus about making comics in the year of Covid.

How has your professional life changed since lockdown?

Some of the activities that constitute my daily life and annual schedule have been considerably altered! My comics are underpinned by physical processes of printing and binding, and access to equipment was necessarily restricted. This took a while to adjust to, as I had to turn away from making as a source of inspiration and hone in on the things I was able to do: drawing & research from home, and brief forays into the outside world.

The annual cycle of zine & book fairs, which I attend as both exhibitor and visitor, has been put on hold, but it’s been exciting to see how publishing communities and organisers have experimented with online formats to fill the void in physical fairs. I think that void is simultaneously social, creative, professional, financial, and is certainly not unique to zines & comics.


How have you adapted your methods of making in the light of those changes?

At first everything took a lot longer than normal, and I felt like I was working constantly and achieving very little. The fear, uncertainty and isolation during that period of time made it harder to push myself to work really long hours to get something finished. But I continued to structure to my days around ‘normal’ work hours, ensuring that I took breaks for fresh air and getting away from my desk. I crave time outdoors, and this has always created a tension with my professional need to be indoors, drawing or on a laptop. Over the last few months I’ve started to acknowledge the outdoors-loving side of myself, and have found ways to build some moments of walking or cycling every day.

Importantly, I also had to radically rethink the project I proposed to the Arts Foundation, which was centred around visiting archives, exploring physical records and building relationships with people and groups. As lockdown unfolded, I changed the focus of my project to something that could be researched and developed within the new restrictions. My research is currently quite self-generated – visiting locations on my bike and doing lots of drawing, reading books and journal articles. Compared to how I habitually approach projects, my work is currently more rooted in drawing and exploring visual connections, rather than being shaped by archival research.


What have you learnt about making in the changed environment?

I’ve always been suspicious of finding creative work ‘too’ pleasurable, and assumed that the only way to make progress was to move towards the things that felt challenging or even anxiety-inducing. It took me a few months to accept that I should let go of the project I proposed to the Arts Foundation (for now), and work on something that was actually possible under the current restrictions. In this context it felt acceptable to work on something exploratory that might not directly feed into a larger work at all. I was surprised that moving towards rather than away from fun & pleasure yielded much more conventionally ‘productive’ results than my usual approach, which had started to feel stultifying. Through explorative drawing I was still able to explore my original intentions about how comics represent time, but in a way that was playful and which can subsequently inform larger works.


What have you learnt this year that you intend to carry forward in your future career?

This year I embraced drawing with a faith that improving my skills is central to the success of any project, and this commitment is something I’ll actively be carrying forward into the future. Weekly online life drawing became a very enjoyable habit, and something I can’t wait to keep up when in-person classes resume.

Researching and developing a new comic over the last few months has helped me appreciate the knowledge and breakthroughs that only come from drawing. A really compelling project doesn’t necessarily benefit from being planned or theorised into existence! Even though I’m keen to approach my work with rigorous theoretical & historical research, I’ve begun to value the eloquence of image-making more deeply.

This year is teaching me about pace too, through a process of unlearning the habits of ‘using’ time to maximise productivity. Approaching time in an instrumentalising way isn’t overly helpful for creative work, especially at the research and exploratory stage that I’m currently in. Working more slowly and reflectively, and being comfortable about not knowing where something will lead has been beneficial in this context. I know it takes time to unlearn old habits & tendencies and replace them with new ones, but I’ll keep challenging the old stories of productivity and give myself more flexibility in my creative process.

AF 2020 Social Innovation in Materials Design Fellow Bethany Williams shares her year

This past twelve months of my Arts Foundation Fellowship year has been an extraordinary one – between expanding my brand, building on my portfolio and responding to the current crisis, I have been extremely busy!

One of my most satisfying projects this year has been working with the Emergency Designer Network, an initiative I established with Holly Fulton, Cozette McCreery and Phoebe English united to galvanise local production to support hospital stocks of key garments such as scrubs. This is vital armour in the fight against COVID-19. Chris Evans recently donated funds to support our collective, comprised of an initial group of 10 small-scale UK manufacturers and designers. This December we were delighted to win the Community Honoree award at the Fashion Awards. EDN is still looking for experienced seamstresses who can support our endeavour!

Another major project for me this summer, was my commissioned programme at Somerset House, All Our Children, in which I invited audiences to reflect on our future generations and consider what wisdom and legacy we’d collectively like to pass on to those who come long after us. Through this I launched a collaborative capsule collection, and raised a flag over Somerset House made in collaboration with the Magpie Project.

My work has become more widely exhibited this year. The V&A Museum of Childhood have taken on a collection of my work for display in the museum, and I am preparing for a cabinet display at Design Museum London, due to go on display this coming July. My furniture sculpture for the new sustainable Adidas store on Carnaby Street was launched in October, and will be remain in place for the coming three years.

Another achievement being a finalist for the Woolmark Prize, who are supporting me in the development of a wool collection to be launched in 2021. I have had the pleasure of hiring a full time colleague working with me, and I have now moved into Poplar Works  offices. We have also increased our stockists and have launched a capsule collection with Selfridges. Finally, as enquiries about internships have become a daily occurrence, I have started mentoring younger designers. Every last Friday of the month, instead of unpaid internships I offer tutorials and advice to the students and young professionals who approach me.

AF Fellow Permindar Kaur opens exhibition Home

Permindar Kaur
12 December 2020 – 12 June 2021
Curated by HS Projects
5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG

Home brings together new and existing works, for an exhibition at 5 Howick Place, London, curated by HS Projects. The show surveys Permindar Kaur’s continuing interest in the ‘public’ and ‘private’ and a common central question in her practice: ‘where is home?’

Kaur presents a range of work from early in her career and a major new sculpture –Overgrown House made specifically for this exhibition. She makes viewers aware of the difference between the ‘private & public’ by abruptly converting this very public space into a bedroom in a private home. The central new work is a large steel bed which upon closer inspection reveals a world of colourful creatures ‘lurking’ beneath it. These creatures are a conception of private thoughts & dreams, giving viewers a sense of domestic insecurities & vulnerabilities.

Other works will explore hierarchical structures at home and at work, looking at the unspoken, often hidden positions of power. One such work, Tower (2014), a stack of chairs reflecting how we have a ‘place’ in society. Kaur’s most recent solo exhibitions were Black and Blue (New Art Projects, London, 2017) and Interlopers (University of Hertfordshire, 2016). Interlopers spanned the vast glazed front wall of the Arts & Design Gallery. Permindar relocated works through the course of the exhibition. A blog by Barbara Brownie and a publication with essay by Richard Cork accompanied the exhibition.

A new publication with critical texts by Prof Eddie Chambers (University of Texas) and Dr Alice Correia (co-chair of the Black British Art Research Group) is planned for publication in early 2021.

Home is supported by public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

Edward Burtynsky provides 2021 AFFAs with imagery from work on the Anthropocene

We are delighted to announce that acclaimed photographer Edward Burtynsky will be providing the online celebration of the 2021 Arts Foundation Futures Awards with imagery from his extraordinary work focused on the Anthropocene! Inspired by our award in Environmental Writing and our sustainably minded Finalists for our Materials Innovation Award, this year’s Awards will include how creativity can also address issues around the climate crisis, with Special Guest and Environmentalist Lily Cole.
To attend the Awards ceremony, get your ticket here!

The image in this post is of Cerro Prieto Geothermal Power Station in Baja California, Mexico (photographed in 2012). It is the world’s largest complex of geothermal power stations in terms of overall size and the second-largest in terms of energy output. Geothermal power is considered to be a sustainable, renewable source of energy because the heat extraction is small compared with the Earth’s heat content. The greenhouse gas emissions of geothermal electric stations are on average 45 grams of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour of electricity, or less than 5 percent of that of conventional coal-fired plants.
Photograph by Edward Burtynsky, courtesy Flowers Gallery, London / Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto.

AF 2012 Fellow Ahren Warner selected for 2020 Bloomberg New Contemporaries

#AFFellow Ahren Warner has been selected for this year’s Bloomberg New Contemporaries! Warner was awarded his fellowship for poetry in 2012 and writes:
“I came to making films and photographs through, or preceded by, my work as a poet. In a 2014 lecture, the French poet Yves Bonnefoy argued that photography “bears directly on what poetry seeks to be” (Yves Bonnefoy. Poésie et photographie. Paris: Galilée, 2014). That – because of its ability to capture the ‘real’ and the necessity of ‘chance’ – photography “deflects the aim of what we call composition… present[ing] things existing as such in an existence beyond that which is reducible to thought” (Bonnefoy, 2014).
In this way, Bonnefoy sees photography as an outrider for a poetics that seeks to “rattle… the scaffolds of conceptual thought” (Bonnefoy, 2014). There’s a lot to digest in this: it intersects with plenty of *cool art theory* – new materialism, Quentin Meillassoux and Peter Osborne’s differing readings of ‘finitude’ – but there’s also a way in which it feels like a kind of outmoded, or romantic, idea of the photograph and poem. What, for example, of the networks of social and political determination that condition what is found within the photographic frame or the language and form of a poem?”
Read more on the New Contemporaries website.

AF 2019 Fellow Will Harris wins Forward Prize for Best First Collection!

One of the most acclaimed debuts in recent years, 2019 AFFA Fellow Will Harris won the £5,000 Felix Dennis prize for best first collection with RENDANG, which explores his Chinese-Indonesian and British heritage, family ties, language and borders. RENDANG was praised by judges as containing “acute intelligence and mobile grace”.

Read more

AFFA 2021 Environmental Writing Finalists Announced!

Nancy Campbell, Garry MacKenzie, Selina Nwulu and Joanna Pocock have been shortlisted for the £10,000 award which is supported by the the Yoma Sasburg Estate.

“In the year of the global pandemic when our very relationships with the natural world are critically exposed, this award is both timely and important, addressing global concerns and to different communities, bringing environmental science from academia to a much broader audience.  This award has given voice to the wide-ranging environmental concerns of the 21st century, from climate change to environmental pollution. It rewards creativity in partnership with environmental knowledge and understanding. The opportunity for wider engagement has never been more necessary and the shortlisted writers and poets all have important contributions to make now and into the future.”    
Jean McNeil, Lucia Pietroiusti, Professor Annie Worsley

The finalists were chosen from a long list of nominated UK-based writers of non-fiction whose work engages directly with the climate crisis, the anthropocene or with the sixth extinction. Bringing together writers of books, essays and poems, the award highlights some of the most striking voices in environmental writing in the UK today. The award was judged by an expert panel comprised of author Professor of Creative Writing at UEA, Jean McNeil, ecological curator Lucia Pietroiusti, and writer, physical geographer, crofter and Professor of Environmental Change Annie Worsley.

The judges commended poet, essayist and writer of books including The Library of Ice: Readings in a Cold Climate, Nancy Campbell for her generosity of spirit and depth of feeling in her writing, demonstrating great empathy with the flow of energy and power through the natural world.

Reviewing work by Scottish poet Garry McKenzie, the judges admired his ability to get beyond the ramparts of language which divides us from the animal kingdom, giving us a sense of shared consciousness and shared language and clearly contextualising his poetry within landscapes he clearly loves and knows very well.

Writer, poet and essayist Selina Nwulu was commended for her work which examines migration, race, climate change and social justice through a personal lens. The judges saw great potential in her approach to actively engage audiences on the issues of climate change and justice in environmental issues.

Joanna Pocock’s capacity to write philosophically yet simply about climate concerns was greatly admired by the judges. Her last book Surrender, a work of creative non-fiction, encompassed  arguments around sustainability and edges which are transitional and transformative, particularly poignant in a period of  political and social change.

The recipient of the £10,000 Environmental Writing Award will be announced along with awards in four other artforms (Visual Arts, Theatre Makers, Choral Composition and Materials Innovation) at an online celebration on the 27th Jan, 2021. Please check the website nearer the date for details about how to view the awards event.  The three runners-up will all receive £1,000 awards towards their practice. Go to AFFA2021 pages for details of all 20 award finalists.

AF Fellow Wayne McGregor’s Company performing at Design Museum’s Electronic exhibition

Join Company Wayne McGregor (one of our 1994 Fellows!) for a performance and talk at the @DesignMuseum in response to Electronic: From Kraftwerk to The Chemical Brothers!⁠

Immerse yourself, from wherever you are, in an evening of dance and electronic music at the museum.⁠

Follow dancers from Company Wayne McGregor through Electronic: From Kraftwerk to The Chemical Brothers as they perform bespoke choreography inside the exhibition in response to the soundscape. The event includes a talk by Wayne McGregor and friends.⁠


Online only event, book via @DesignMuseum’s website⁠

Adult £10, Members FREE

AFFA 2021 Choral Composition Finalists Announced!

Tanya Auclair, John Barber, Samantha Fernando and Jack Sheen have been chosen as finalists for the £10,000 award.
The finalists were chosen from a  long list of nominated UK-based composers who write music for groups of voices ranging from small ensembles to large choirs and for either amateur or professional choirs. The panel of experts was made up of soprano Juliet Fraser,  CEO of Garsington Opera Wasfi Kani OBE, and composer Orlando Gough who said:

“At a time when choral music is ferociously challenged, what a pleasure it has been to sift through a raft of strong applications from a wonderfully diverse group of composers. It makes me look forward even more to a time when we can hear live the choral work that is currently in the pipeline.” – Orlando Gough

Finalist Tanya Auclair meshes organic and electronic, pop and experimental, exploring unusual rhythms, vocal harmony and electronica, while John Barber has a passion for drama, collaboration and voices, taking him from working with refugees and asylum seekers, to professional ensembles. Juliet Fraser says of them:

“Tanya Auclair draws on music from a variety of cultures to offer a fresh perspective on the choral sound. John Barber’s catalogue of works is a testimony to the breadth of the choral tradition here in the UK. “

Samantha Fernando is credited as ‘a composer with an ear for stillness and subtext’ (The Times), while Jack Sheen is a conductor and composer whose music encompasses concert works and performance-installation. Juliet Fraser said:

“Samantha Fernando is developing a handling of the voice that looks set to equal the assuredness of her instrumental writing. Jack Sheen’s recent choral works combine compositional clarity with performer autonomy to great effect.”

In 2020 a significant number of choirs have been unable to meet and have subsequently disbanded. The Big Choral Census (Voices Now) found that there were over 40,000 regularly meeting choirs in the UK in 2017, equating to over two million singers – more than those playing amateur football each week. The Arts Foundation are delighted to be able to highlight this artform at such a challenging time.
The recipient of the 2021 Fellowship along with four further £10,000 awards in Visual Arts, Theatre Makers, 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.

AF Fellow Paul Clark has launched a free online Master Class in Music Writing!

#AFFellow Paul Clark has launched a free online master class in music writing, Ear Opener!

Designed for music students, teachers and independent music makers, Ear Opener uses simple, accessible explanations of the tools people who write music use everyday, with practical tips that composers of any level can put straight into practice.

Get insights and advice from artists including legendary producer Brian Eno, composer & saxophonist Cassie Kinoshi, Radiohead guitarist Ed O’Brien, film and TV composer Isobel Waller-Bridge and many more.

Find out more on their website!

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

AF Ambassador and former Fellow Wayne McGregor appointed Director of the Dance Department for La Biennale di Venezia

A DREAM challenge ahead…… 
Honoured to be appointed the new Director of Dance for La Biennale Di Venezia. A chance to use a different part of the creative brain and a unrivalled opportunity to invite artists I respect and admire to share their brilliance at the BIENNALE. And tough I know………you will have to come to Venice!”
 Wayne McGregor

La Biennale di Venezia announces that the Board of Directors has appointed the Artistic Directors for the Cinema, Dance, Music and Theatre Departments for the four-year term 2021-2024:

The following appointments have been approved: Alberto Barbera was confirmed as the Director of the Cinema Department
Wayne McGregor was appointed as the Director of the Dance Department
Lucia Ronchetti was appointed as the Director of the Music Department
ricci/forte (Stefano Ricci and Gianni Forte) were appointed as the Directors of the Theatre Department

The Board of Directors of La Biennale has thanked and expressed its most sincere gratitude to Marie Chouinard, Ivan Fedele and Antonio Latella for their great commitment and the excellent results they achieved during their four-year terms as Directors respectively of the Dance, Music and Theatre Departments.

Read more here.