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Camden People’s Theatre announces new commissions to support artists and local community

Hira Desai

By Hira Desai First Published 13 August 2020, Last Updated 13 August 2020

Thanks to funding from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Camden People’s Theatre (CPT) has announced its biggest round of commissions to offer much-needed support to nineteen artists, with a particular focus on marginalised voices.

Founded over twenty-six years ago, CPT is one of Britain’s most influential studio theatres. It aims to champion different ways of thinking about the world by supporting emerging artists making adventurous theatre – particularly about issues that matter to people now.

Since the venue’s closure in March, CPT has pivoted its efforts towards providing urgent financial support for artists and its local community; the two groups that are disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

The commissions include: four Outside the Box commissions, bespoke to the Covid era, to develop larger-scale projects, nine Seed Commissions specifically for marginalised artists to develop new ideas, and six Starting Blocks artist development places for early-career freelance artists.

The four Outside the Box commissions are open for submissions from across the UK and welcome work which is either live, virtual, or both and which explores what live performance can be at a time of closed theatres. They also welcome projects that communicate meaningfully – and promise exciting cultural encounters – with their local communities, themselves isolated in many cases by the Covid-19 pandemic.

CPT will be offering a minimum of two of the four commissions to artists or companies from marginalised backgrounds, many of whom have been particularly adversely affected by Covid-19 and the lockdown. These include artists of colour, d/Deaf and disabled artists and artists from working-class backgrounds. The judging panel will comprise members of CPT’s local community and artists from marginalised backgrounds alongside members of the CPT team.

Additionally, nine Seed Commissions will be offered exclusively for digitally presented projects or working towards live performance when the sector starts to reopen.

Applications will launch in August with projects delivered within 12 months. In addition to the above, CPT will also be offering 6 places on their 10-week residency and peer network for early-career artists, Starting Blocks, which has been funded for the first time. At least 3 of the places will be offered to voices from marginalised groups.

Executive Director Kaya Stanley-Money said: “We are beyond grateful to our funders and supporters who have made it possible for us to announce such an extraordinary series of commissions and community projects to support those most affected by the Covid-19 crisis. After months of crisis management we cannot wait to get creative again. Whilst we continue to fight for the survival of our organisation and the sector, these initiatives offer much-needed work and professional development for a raft of independent artists and freelancers.”

To apply, artists can find out more here.

In addition to their new commissions, CPT is working closely with its community in various ways. From acting as a distributing hub with Food For All food relief charity and their Summer Camden Youth Theatre Programme to hosting a Best Before Party on 29 August which offers a unique night with cut-priced drinks, they are highly active in throughout Camden and London.

CPT is also continuing to support artists at this difficult time, and is engaged in an ongoing delicate balancing act between its responsibilities to its artists and community, and its need to ensure its own long-term survival. If you are able to support their work with a one-off or regular donation please visit the support us pages on the venues website.

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