£1 million Genesis Kickstart Fund

A total of 95 projects supported

Over 1000 freelancers involved in projects that span all genres of the arts

Projects are located in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

In October 2020, the Genesis Foundation announced the Genesis Kickstart Fund, a £1 million fund launched by John Studzinski CBE, Founder and Chairman of the Genesis Foundation. It was designed to enable outstanding freelance artists to stay on their career paths and explore new possibilities in a world radically altered by Covid-19.  

John Studzinski CBE said: The Genesis Kickstart Fund grew out of our response to the pandemic, but we have always been looking to the longer term. Beyond enabling paid work on worthwhile, innovative projects, the grants are about nurturing resourcefulness and resilience – and developing ideas and momentum in a dramatically changed environment. 

As we finally emerge from two years of Covid-19, our lives are now being shaken by a war. The creative community faces the prospect of a new and precarious world order and punishing economic pressures. The Kickstart Fund clearly continues to have an important job to do. It has already mitigated society’s risk of losing outstanding creative talent through lack of opportunity, and it will continue to encourage some of today’s most inspiring artists to create the cultural memory of tomorrow.” 

In addition to the £10,000 grant (£20,000 for the freelancers in projects led by Genesis partners) the freelancers involved gained access to Genesis Connects, a network to enable artists and producers to meet, foster new collaborations and benefit from mentoring opportunities. The grants awarded applied to projects running for a maximum of two years which were completed by March 2023. On completion, the impact of all projects were assessed according to the following criteria: quality, innovation, value for money and benefit to society. 

The Advisory Council

The Genesis Kickstart Fund was steered by its Advisory Council, which includes over 30 distinguished artistic leaders.

The members of the Advisory Council, chaired by John Studzinski, contributed in a variety of ways. Some scouted high-quality, inclusive, and innovative artistic projects to involve freelance creative professionals across the UK, while others selected the most promising and relevant projects to receive grants of £10,000 and up. Certain members of the council also mentored the freelance creatives who had received project grants.  

The members of the Council, assigned to disciplinary sub-committees, were as follows:  

Theatre & Film

Samuel Barnett – Actor, Genesis LAMDA Scholar

Barbara Broccoli OBE – Producer, EON Productions – SPECIAL ADVISER

Benedict Cumberbatch CBE – Actor, LAMDA President

Rupert Goold CBE – Artistic Director, Almeida Theatre

Kwame Kwei-Armah OBE – Artistic Director, Young Vic Theatre

David Lan CBE – Writer, Theatre Producer

Rufus Norris – Artistic Director, National Theatre

Abubakar Salim – Actor, Genesis LAMDA Scholar

Abdul Shayek – Artistic Director and Joint CEO, Tara Arts

Dame Janet Suzman – Actor, LAMDA Vice-President


Harry Christophers CBE – Founder and Conductor, The Sixteen

Polly Graham – Artistic Director, Longborough Festival Opera; Genesis Opera Director

Tanya Joseph – Board Member, London Philharmonic Orchestra

Sir James MacMillan CBE – Composer

Kathryn McDowell CBE – Managing Director, London Symphony Orchestra

Jamie Njoku-Goodwin – Chief Executive, UK Music

Marie-Sophie Willis – Chief Executive, The Sixteen


Farooq Chaudhry OBE – Co-Founder and Executive Producer, Akram Khan Company

Stina Quagebeur – Dancer and Choreographer, English National Ballet

Art/ Photography

Michael Armitage – Artist

Emma Bowkett – Director of Photography, FT Magazine

Chris Levine – Artist

Frances Morris – Director, Tate Modern

Renee Odjidja – Curator: Youth Programmes, Whitechapel Gallery

Grayson Perry CBE RA – Artist – SPECIAL ADVISER

Rebecca Salter PRA – President, Royal Academy of Arts

Yinka Shonibare CBE RA – Artist

Arts Leaders and Champions

Harriet Capaldi – Managing Director, Genesis Foundation

Jan Dalley – Arts Editor, Financial Times

Jemma Read – Head of Philanthropy, Bloomberg

John Studzinski CBE – Founder and Chairman, Genesis Foundation

Veronica WadleyBaroness Fleet – Chair, Department for Education’s Expert Panel for the Model Music Curriculum

Read the GKF Phase 1 press announcement

Read the GKF Phase 2 press announcement

Read the Final Round press announcement