A new flagship International Showcase celebrating performance created in England will be piloted during the Edinburgh Festivals in 2021. The showcase will be led by a consortium comprising Battersea Arts Centre, Dance4, Fierce, GIFT, MAYK and Transform.
The organisations involved have been successful in securing an initial investment of £500,000 from Arts Council England for a pilot year, following an open call in summer 2019 for a consortium to devise and deliver a brand-new performing arts showcase at the Edinburgh festivals from 2021-2023. The decision on this highly competitive process had been postponed due to Covid-19.
With partners Battersea Arts Centre and Dance4, four of the UK’s brightest and most artist-centred international performing arts festivals will now work collectively to shape an artist focused and international showcase model. This collaborative approach will globally connect England’s performing arts sector, and celebrate a new generation of international artists and cultural leaders across England. The pilot year in 2021 will take place online, UK-wide and in Edinburgh.
Responsive to the current global context, the consortium will champion ambitious, sustainable and innovative practices for 2021 and beyond, via a physical and pioneering digital showcase. Centring care, community and inclusivity, the showcase will connect artists based across England with bespoke international touring opportunities. Prioritising low carbon working and innovative technology, the consortium’s ambition is for the showcase to be one of the most environmentally sustainable international initiatives in the world.
More than an annual event, the consortium will work throughout the year to support the development of artists in England, build international practices and offer performance opportunities in Edinburgh and beyond.
The inclusive, daring and cross-disciplinary approach of the consortium will support artists through mentoring, financial support and performance opportunities to connect with others on the global stage. The showcase will engage with artists and organisations across the country from the home cities and towns of the six core partners – Birmingham, Bristol, Gateshead, Leeds, London and Nottingham – and beyond, with a number of year-round performance, exchange and artistic leadership opportunities.
The pilot version of the new showcase is scheduled to take place at the Edinburgh festivals in August 2021 with a combined digital offer and build-up programme across England. More details to be announced as the showcase team further develop approaches and plans.
Paul Russ, Chief Executive and Artistic Director of Dance4 said:
‘We’re delighted to be working with this magnificent consortium of festivals to realise the new England Performing Arts Showcase. This award provides an opportunity to disrupt the established showcasing models and to work with artists to realise a programme where artists truly inform the experience’
Aaron Wright, Artistic Director of Fierce said:
‘We’re excited to be awarded this opportunity alongside a dream team of partners, to have a national conversation with a view to fundamentally shifting the way we programme and present performing arts in England. We want to rethink what is relevant, what we showcase to the world and why and what it says about us as a country only just starting to reckon with its past. We also bring a healthy scepticism to the behemoth of Edinburgh, which we recognise is a model that does not work for everyone and therefore artist care will be central to our approach.’
Kate Craddock, Festival Director of GIFT: Gateshead International Festival of Theatre said:
‘GIFT is thrilled to be part of the successful consortium leading on England’s Performing Arts Showcase, which offers a phenomenal opportunity to re-imagine how artists are supported to platform their work and develop their practice across the Edinburgh Festivals. The geographical reach of this consortium across England will ensure this exceptional investment from Arts Council England will have significant impact on the performing arts ecology across the country – something that feels especially important for GIFT from our home in North East England. The opportunity to work alongside such a brilliant group of colleagues who all share the same ambitions for internationalising artist opportunities across the sector feels truly game changing – and we can’t wait to get started!’
Kate Yedigaroff and Matthew Austin, Co-Directors of MAYK said:
‘We’re thrilled to be part of this excellent group of forward-thinking organisations. This new showcase creates vital new opportunities for international collaboration at a time when physical proximity is more difficult and when we’re having to fight harder than ever for the importance of internationalism. It recognises that placing artists at the heart of the process will make the showcase stronger, fairer and more exciting. We can’t wait to get stuck in.’
Amy Letman, Creative Director of Transform said:
‘This is an incredible opportunity for England’s Performing Arts sector to look out to the world at a time when it’s needed most. Transform is thrilled to be working with this extraordinary alchemy of partners to create a forward-thinking and inclusive showcase that foregrounds independent artists and works to catalyse performance created in England on an international stage. This ambitious three-year project will majorly impact our sector’s international connections and relevance, and will resonate in our home city of Leeds and across the country.’
Tarek Iskander, Artistic Director & CEO of Battersea Arts Centre said:
‘Together with our partners, our collective ambition is to use this incredible opportunity to prove that a re-imagined showcase within the context of Edinburgh can achieve many things. That it can put artists and creative communities at the centre, connect them with stronger international partnerships, that it can be more inclusive, representative and accessible for everyone; and that ambitious environmental sustainability can be at the heart. It’s a tough ask, and there will be much learning along the way – but we’re up for the challenge. And I hope it will feel like a true group effort, with artists and communities and organisations up and down the country, involved in different ways.’
Simon Mellor, Deputy CEO, Arts and Culture at Arts Council England said:
‘We are delighted to be collaborating with the consortium on this exciting new showcase in Edinburgh that will provide a platform for artists and companies based in England to launch a host of new national and international collaborations. This investment is an important first step towards realising the international ambitions within our new strategy, Let’s Create and helping build a post-Covid cultural sector in this country that is innovative, collaborative and international.’
Header image by Lucy McCormick.