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London Theatre News Today: Tuesday 20 April

First Published 20 April 2021, Last Updated 21 April 2021

Recipients of the fifth annual MGCfutures Bursaries announced

Michael Grandage today announces the recipients of the fifth annual MGCfutures Bursaries awarded across a range of theatrical disciplines including directing, writing, producing, designing, choreography, digital, casting and performance-makers. A registered charity, MGCfutures offers both financial and ongoing mentoring support to the recipients who come from across the UK.

This year, in a major expansion to the bursary programme, there are thirty-three recipients: Waleed Akhtar, Tom Bellerby, Rebecca Brewer, Teresa Burns, Ghost Chan, Zhui Ning Chang, Liz Daramola, Beth Flintoff, burn/gobscure, Sam Hardie, Natalie Haslam, Kitty Hawkins, Courtenay Johnson, Eve Kann, Júlia Levai, Tom Lightbody, Rafaella Marcus, Tony Mills, Will Monks, Madelaine Moore,

Laurie Motherwell, Anna Orton, Nisha Oza, Claire Rimington, Luke W. Robson, Nye Russell-Thompson, Lucía Sánchez Roldán, Amber Sinclair-Case, Freya Smith, Lexie Ward, Naomi Westerman, Christopher Worrall and Lilac Yosiphon – taking the total of MGCfutures’ bursaries awarded to over 100 in just five years. This year’s bursaries include new partnerships with the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre for a Literary Associate (Trainee) and Pilot Theatre for two Creative Assistants.

Michael Grandage said today, “This year it feels more vital than ever before to support and nurture the theatre makers of the future and to create new work by offering them money, time and mentorship. I’m enormously proud of the achievements of our past bursary recipients – to witness their work and growth as artists is a wonderful part of this initiative. The charity continues to support the vast network of jobs that make up the whole theatre ecology as we believe it is only this way we can build an industry for the future. We’re grateful to the Theatre Community Fund whose generosity has enabled us to award our largest ever number of bursaries in honour of the fifth anniversary of the scheme.”

Michael Grandage founded MGCfutures in 2013 – a charity designed to encourage and support the next generation of theatre-makers and theatregoers. The bursaries programme was launched in 2016, and reaches out across the UK to seek the very best creative talent showing a commitment to their chosen career and looking to progress to the next stage of their development. Applicants can apply for bursaries of up to £5000.

The expansion of this year’s bursaries to celebrate their fifth anniversary has been made possible due to the generosity of the Theatre Community Fund, spearheaded by Olivia Colman, Phoebe Waller-Bridge and Francesca Moody which has donated £300k to MGCfutures to help support and provide bursaries for the next 3 years. When they launched the Theatre Community Fund in July 2020 in response to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, they committed to provide hardship funding, and bursaries for creation and innovation. They continue to provide hardship funding through the Royal Theatrical Fund; and this donation sees them realise their aim to provide funding for bursaries.

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Documentary web series BlackStage UK tackles systematic racism in the UK’s creative & entertainment industries

BlackStage UK is a free documentary -style web series exposing the racial injustices experienced by Black workers in the UK’s creative and entertainment industries. With each episode focusing on a topic that widely affects the Black community, the series sheds light on industry bias, and explores solutions for moving towards true racial equity in the sector, and in the wider world.

BlackStage UK is an emotional and educational exposé on what it means to be Black in the UK Arts industry, featuring 30 Black and Black mixed-raced workers from across the sector and from all over the UK. Participants were interviewed in the height of the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, during the summer of 2020 and the UK’s first lockdown. The resulting episodes are a free tool in anti-racist education for people and organisations who have made public promises to implement systemic change, and a vital starting place for those who are beginning this anti-racist work. The series is also a cathartic sharing of accounts for the black community allowing space for healing, where viewers will finally see the impact of the institutional racism they have faced recognised publicly.

Created and produced by actor Gabrielle Brooks, BlackStage UK launches with the first episode MicroAggressions and Assumptions. The series covers a range of topics, from allyship and the path to true racial equity, through to the problematic use of abbreviations like ‘BAME.’

Gabrielle Brooks said: “I created BlackStage UK out of necessity. This pandemic has exacerbated the systematic inequalities experienced by Black people in the arts and beyond. While institutions have made pledges towards change, they are still leaving a key element out of the conversation. Us, the Black community. This is where BlackStage UK comes in. This series enables a safe space for the harsh realities of the racism which exists in our industry and country to be exposed. This community who have been largely silenced, are finally and rightly being amplified.”

BlackStage UK is supported by Inc Arts and Arts Council England and features a wide range of creatives, actors and professionals from across the sector, including 2020 BAFTA award – winning actor and writer Gbemisola Ikumelo and star of Channel 4’s It’s a Sin Omari Douglas.

Gbemisola Ikumelo said: “So many of the experiences of aggression and racism felt by Black creatives are very isolating. Blackstage UK is giving us that sense of community back, which is so empowering. We all want to feel like we have a tribe.”

You can watch the documentary series here.


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