Genesis Kickstart Fund

On 14 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, to support freelancers in the creative sector.

The fund will be rolled out in 2021, to mark the 20th anniversary of the Foundation. It is designed to enable outstanding freelance artists to stay on their career paths and explore new possibilities in a world radically altered by Covid-19.

The Genesis Kickstart Fund will generate structured, project-based work opportunities for a diversity of freelance creative professionals. They will earn an income as they participate in future-facing projects while continuing to build their careers and professional networks. The first projects are expected to go live in Spring 2021.

John Studzinski CBE said: COVID-19 has changed the world for all of us. At this crucial juncture we cannot afford to risk losing a whole generation of outstanding creative talent through lack of opportunity. The pandemic has been especially challenging for freelancers in the arts and creative sector. The Genesis Foundation’s Kickstart Fund will bring vital new opportunities for creative professionals through exciting projects run in collaboration with respected arts organisations. As we approach our 20th anniversary, we continue our long-term strategy of affirming human dignity through the arts, one person at a time.”

The Advisory Council

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

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

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


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

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


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

Press coverage for the Genesis Kickstart Fund announcement can be viewed here.

Press coverage for the Advisory Council announcement can be viewed here.

To support the Genesis Kickstart Fund, please donate here.


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