Southbank Centre Nurtures Budding Talent
Image Credit: India Roper-Evans

Spring is in the air and as the trees begin to blossom one branch of the Southbank Centre’s mission, that of promoting burgeoning talent, is again coming into bloom.

Three initiatives are under way that will provide opportunities across a range of arts activities. The annual Southbank Centre New Poets Collective will provide the opportunity for 15 up-and-coming poets aged 22+ to develop their compositions, knowledge and confidence, under the guidance and support of tutors and guest poets, acquiring skills that will enhance their work. The scheme will operate around the National Poetry Library, which houses the world’s largest public collection of modern poetry. Access to its vast resources should provide a stimulating and inspiring environment for their creativity and a wealth of material with which to carry out related research.

A number of free bursary places and travel stipends are available and applications are particularly welcomed from ‘Black, Asian and Ethnically Diverse poets, disabled or neuro-diverse poets, LGBTQ+ and working-class poets’. The programme will culminate in presentations at the London Literature Festival in October 2022 and a published anthology of new work. Ted Hodgkinson, Head of Literature & Spoken Word at the Southbank Centre said, “It promises to be a transformative experience for those selected and to make a major contribution to poetry in the UK and beyond”.

Always keen to extend the breadth of artists involved in its work, a new venture, in collaboration with Counterpoints Arts, will see an artist commission for someone with ‘lived experience of displacement or migration to develop new live work for public spaces’. There are no restrictions on the medium in which the work can be presented, so it could form part of the outdoor programme or appear in the indoor foyer. Speaking of the opportunities afforded by the commission, 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”.

A further partnership has been forged with Unlimited, an arts commissioning programme that is run jointly by Shape Arts and Artsadmin and which was created as part of the Cultural Olympiad linked to the London Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012. Unlimited ‘aims to embed work by disabled artists within the UK and international cultural sectors, reach new audiences and shift perceptions of disabled people’. The current commission has been awarded to Joseph Wilk to develop Wheel Trails, which it is hoped will appeal to family audiences and contain a participatory element.

Speaking of these initiatives, 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…. and these new initiatives are just some of the ways in which we’re creating opportunities”.

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