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Southbank Centre Announces New Initiatives To Support Emerging Artists

Learn more about the open call for submissions, poets collective and more!

As the Southbank Centre prepares to reopen, it turns its focus once again to supporting emerging talent. The schemes set to be launched include:

  • 15 up-and-coming poets will be selected to join the Southbank Centre New Poets Collective. Centred around the National Poetry Library, the poets will hone their skills and expand their knowledge and confidence with support from tutors, guest poets and with access to the library resources and rarities provided by the NPL. The new scheme is national and will take place annually.

  • The launch of a brand new artist commission in collaboration with Counterpoints Arts. The organisations are looking to commission an artist with lived experience of displacement or migration to develop new live work for public spaces.

  • In partnership with Unlimited, the Southbank Centre has for the first time co-commissioned an award for a new piece of R&D work aimed at a family audience, or that has a participatory element to it. The commission, awarded to Joseph Wilk to develop Wheel Trails supports Unlimited's core aim to embed disabled artists within the cultural sector.

Alexandra Brierley, Director of Creative Learning at the Southbank Centre, said: "We're thrilled to be in a position to renew our focus on supporting emerging and future talent as we prepare our reopening. Since its beginning in 1951, the Southbank Centre has always sought to nurture talent and champion high quality and innovative work. Through our relationships with world class artists and our network of partnerships and resident organisations, we offer opportunities for the next generation of creatives and these new initiatives are just some of the ways in which we're creating opportunities. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all who have made these initiatives possible, including the T.S. Eliot Foundation and our partners Counterpoints Arts and Unlimited."

Southbank Centre New Poets Collective 2021/22

From today the Southbank Centre invites up-and-coming poets aged 22+ to apply to become a part of the New Poets Collective, based at the Southbank Centre's National Poetry Library supported by the Creative Learning team and funded by the T.S. Eliot Foundation. The new national scheme will take place on an annual basis.

As home of literature and spoken word events in the UK, the Southbank Centre's programme is brimming with today's acclaimed authors and award-winning poets. The Royal Festival Hall is home to the National Poetry Library, the world's largest public collection of modern poetry, and the beating heart of the Southbank Centre. The library will reopen on 28 May, shortly after the Royal Festival Hall opens on 21 May.

The New Poets Collective programme will be centred around the National Poetry Library. It will help this group of up to 15 poets hone their skills and expand their knowledge and confidence and will kick-off at the London Literature Festival in October 2021. Over the course of a year, the group will develop creatively while drawing on and contributing to the rich and varied artistic life of the Southbank Centre.

The Collective will be able to explore and be inspired by all the art forms and cross-arts events held at the Royal Festival Hall, the Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Hayward Gallery. The group will also have the chance to respond to the Southbank Centre's own unique archive and history.

Lead tutors and special guest poets, including Bristol's City Poet and multi slam winner Vanessa Kisuule and Forward Prize winner Will Harris will lead monthly sessions for the group, designed to help the collective develop as versatile creative artists with skills and confidence across a range of genres, from page poetry to performative poetry and spoken word.

The programme will culminate in presentations at the London Literature Festival in October 2022 and a published anthology of new work. It also includes industry insight sessions designed to provide tools for this group of emerging poets to build their writing careers in the years ahead.

Ted Hodgkinson, Head of Literature & Spoken Word at the Southbank Centre, said: "Poetry has always been at the heart of the Southbank Centre, with the National Poetry Library a source of inspiration for countless poets since opening its doors in 1953. Now thanks to the generous support of the T.S. Eliot Foundation, we're able to go further by creating a rigorous and varied artistic development programme to nurture the next generation. Led by the virtuoso duo of Vanessa Kisuule and Will Harris, and drawing deeply on the National Poetry Library's unique collection as well as the Southbank Centre's diverse artistic programme, it promises to be a transformative experience for those selected and to make a major contribution to poetry in the UK and beyond."

A number of free bursary places and travel stipends are available and the Southbank Centre especially welcomes applications from Black, Asian and Ethnically Diverse poets, disabled or neuro-diverse poets, LGBTQ+ and working-class poets. Full details on how to apply can be found here.

Counterpoints Arts and Southbank Centre - Artist Open Call

Long-standing partner of the Southbank Centre, Counterpoints Arts is collaborating once again, this time to commission an artist with lived experience of displacement or migration to develop new live work for public spaces. The new work is to be presented as part of the Southbank Centre outdoor public programme, either in the indoor foyer spaces of the Southbank Centre, or the outdoor areas across its site famously situated next to the River Thames.

The new scheme aims to commission and support artists to re-imagine how we look at public space and human interaction. The artist can be making work in any art form such as music, dance, spoken word, performance, live art, cabaret and comedy, and will receive a development fee and creative producer support from both organisations. The development process begins in June 2021 with the aim to present the work in 2022. To apply, an expression of interest must be submitted by Wednesday 5 May. More information can be found here.

Almir Koldzic, Counterpoints Arts Director, said: "Now more than ever we need organisations to share resources and ensure that diverse artists get support and opportunities to work. We are delighted that our collaboration with the Southbank Centre has evolved into this exciting and unique opportunity for artists with lived experience of displacement and migration, offering them meaningful support to develop and profile their work widely."

Unlimited partnership commissioning awards

The Southbank Centre is proud to continue its partnership with Unlimited, and for the first time co-commission a partner award.

One of Unlimited's core aims is 'to embed disabled artists within the cultural sector' and working directly with established organisations provides a bridge between artists, their work and crucially the audiences for that work.

The award is one in a series that has been recently announced by Unlimited, and the Southbank Centre's Partner Award welcomed entries from any art form, with a requirement that the artist focuses on public space or outdoor space (non-theatre space). Unlimited and the Southbank Centre are delighted that the commission has been awarded to Joseph Wilk for a project, Wheel Trails, and will be available to view publicly on site at the Southbank Centre in 2022.

Ruth Hardie, Senior Producer, the Southbank Centre, said: "We're excited to be developing our partnership with this co-commission and we're thrilled that it's been awarded to Joseph Wilk to develop Wheel Trails. The Southbank Centre is committed to embedding work by disabled artists across its programme, reaching new audiences and shifting perceptions, and the Unlimited commissions and our partnership are a vital part of that work. We're looking forward to supporting Joseph as this work takes shape and develops, and we can't wait to see it come to life in our public spaces in 2022."

For full details on Unlimited's commissions please see their recent announcement here.

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