Genesis Foundation gives £400K+ in project grants to arts and creative freelancers

13 May 2021

Images: Burum, Lewis Doherty c. Pamela Raith Photography, ENB (Ivana Bueno performing Talisman) c. Laurent Liotardo, Good Chance Theatre (The Walk – Little Amal) c. Nick Wall

41 projects announced in the first phase of funding

Projects span multiple genres and reach all the nations of the UK

The Genesis Foundation has announced 41 grants for arts projects run by creative freelancers throughout the UK. The grants have been allocated from the £1m Genesis Kickstart Fund, rolled out on the Foundation’s 20th anniversary with the aim of enabling outstanding freelance talent to produce future-facing arts projects.

The majority of the first batch of Kickstart recipients will receive £10,000, along with mentoring to support them as creative freelancers in an environment transformed by Covid-19. In total, the projects will involve 500 freelance professionals, and 90% of the projects will target new audiences for the art form or genre.

  • Of the 41 projects:
  • 15 projects are in theatre and the spoken word.
  • 15 projects are in music and opera.
  • 11 projects cover dance, digital arts, film and TV, visual arts, gaming and photography.
  • 68% of the projects have an online component (28 projects).
  • The projects cover England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Freelancers in the arts have suffered particularly during the Covid period. It is estimated that, pre-Covid, freelancers formed 50% of the UK’s theatre workforce.

Among the projects to be supported by the Genesis Kickstart Fund are:

Theatre & Spoken word

Pathway for Puppeteers | Good Chance Theatre: professional development project which supports three UK freelance puppeteers to take part in WALK, an outdoor theatre piece in support of refugees. At its heart is Little Amal, a 3.5m high 9-year-old refugee girl, which will travel 8,000km from Gaziantep to Manchester with an urgent message: “Don’t forget about us.”

AMPLIFY | Tangle: an innovative training scheme run by Tangle Theatre Company for African and Caribbean technicians, sound/lighting designers, stage managers and technical producers. Participants will be supported to develop their skills in incremental steps, supported by expert mentors.

Amma | Tara Arts: Meaning ‘Mum’ in Bengali, Amma will commemorate the forthcoming 50th anniversary of the Bangladeshi War of Independence of 1971. The project involves collecting and archiving the untold stories and experiences of women in Manchester, Cardiff and Birmingham who lived through the war, before developing and presenting a VR exhibition inspired by these women.

LAMDA MishMash Festival | LAMDA: In partnership with Emily Carewe, this festival is a 3-day celebration of self-created work which platforms newly commissioned pieces from a diverse range of artists at every level.

Best Seat in Your House | Young Vic: an immersive, multi-camera broadcast, designed to revolutionise the ‘at home’ viewing experience. With the support of freelancers, Best Seat in Your House will be piloting in July. Audiences will be given two streaming options, Director’s Chair or Director’s Cut, and they will be able to switch between views to control their experience.

(Both LAMDA and the Young Vic are existing programme partners of the Genesis Foundation.)

Music & Opera

Burum R & D Welsh jazz/folk | Burum: collaborative composing project by Welsh jazz-folk sextet Burum. The group will create new music that celebrates the artistic contribution of 20th Century immigrants into Wales, in particular the arrival of Jewish families to South Wales during the Second World War.

Resistance | SANSARA: multi-faceted choral music recording project, based on the story of the White Rose circle: five students and a professor who confronted Nazism and paid with their lives. Resistance is a collaboration between the award-winning vocal collective SANSARA and the University of Oxford’s White Rose Project, bringing their timely and inspiring story to English-speaking audiences around the world.

Our Future In Your Hands | The Multi-Story Orchestra: brand-new choral and orchestral commission about the global youth protest against climate change by composer Kate Whitley and writer Laura Attridge. The project brings together 38 freelance musicians who make up its orchestra, 3 world-renowned opera soloists and over 100 singers.


JUNGLE BOOK REIMAGINED | Akram Khan Company: research and development for new production, JUNGLE BOOK REIMAGINED, conceived by artistic director and choreographer Akram Khan. Utilizing animation and technology, this will be a hybrid production of the digital and physical worlds, touring nationally and internationally from spring 2022.


Troubles Generation | Seen Fifteen: a photography exhibition at Seen Fifteen, examining the legacy of The Troubles in Northern Ireland. The Troubles Generation will present new perspectives on the legacy of The Troubles from photographic artists who grew up during the conflict.

The £1m Genesis Kickstart Fund was announced last October by the Genesis Foundation, in advance of its 20th anniversary this year. The project has a prestigious Advisory Council of 30 leading figures from the arts, which includes Barbara Broccoli, Benedict Cumberbatch and Grayson Perry. Members of the Advisory Council were invited to nominate artists and organisations to apply, and subsequently reviewed grant applications in accordance with specific objectives and criteria.

John Studzinski CBE, Founder and Chairman of the Genesis Foundation, said:

“I am overwhelmed but not surprised by the ambition, creative spark and energy of the Genesis Kickstart fund proposals and projects. The original logic of Kickstart in ensuring freelancers remain engaged and active is very visible in these important, wide-ranging and innovative initiatives. We want to help freelancers get back on their feet, and we are delighted that the projects are so diverse in art form, region and ethnicity.  After 20 years of the Genesis Foundation, our original nurturing and mentoring framework is now more relevant than ever before.”

Actor Samuel Barnett, Genesis Kickstart Fund Advisory Council Member and 2001 Genesis LAMDA Scholar, said:

“I was fortunate several years ago, that as a young actor, my career was kick-started by the Genesis Foundation. I know that they have helped thousands of others over 20 years. This Kickstart Fund will support and encourage freelancers, who have had such a difficult time during the pandemic. It was a real privilege and a pleasure to be on the Advisory Council for this.  What a brilliant and deserving list of recipients. Such an exciting mix.”

Genesis Kickstart Fund Recipients

Organisation/Lead ArtistMain Art FormRegions
Akram Khan Company (AKC)DanceEngland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, London, Touring
Dickson Mbi CompanyDanceOnline, England, London, Touring
English National BalletDanceOnline, London
Sandrine MoninDanceOnline, England, London, Regionally: Leeds
Jess and MorgsDigital ArtOnline, England, London, Regionally: Ipswich.
Blueprint Theatre and Film CompanyFilm/TVOnline, England, London
Alisdair KitchenMusic & OperaOnline
BurumMusic & OperaWales
Creative Juices CICMusic & OperaOnline, England, Regionally: Manchester
DEBUT Music & OperaOnline, England, London
Echo Vocal EnsembleMusic & OperaEngland, London, Touring: Winchester, Manchester, Birmingham
Fieri ConsortMusic & OperaOnline, England, London, Touring
JAM – John Armitage Memorial TrustMusic & OperaOnline, Regionally: Kent
John PfumojenaMusic & OperaOnline, England
Oliver ZeffmanMusic & OperaOnline
Robert GreenMusic & OperaEngland
SANSARAMusic & OperaOnline,
Sophie WinterMusic & OperaUK
Stef O’DriscollMusic & OperaOnline, England, Regionally: Manchester
The Cumnock TrystMusic & OperaScotland
The Multi-Story OrchestraMusic & OperaEngland, London, Regionally: Gloucester
Seen FifteenPhotographyOnline, England, Northern Ireland, London, Touring
August 012 LimitedTheatre/Spoken WordOnline, Wales
Birds of Paradise Theatre CompanyTheatre/Spoken WordScotland
Box of Tricks Theatre CompanyTheatre/Spoken Word England, Regionally: Northern England
Bristol Old VicTheatre/Spoken WordOnline, England, Regionally: Bristol and the South West
Caitriona ShoobridgeTheatre/Spoken WordOnline, England, London
Good ChanceTheatre/Spoken WordOnline, England, London, Regionally, Touring:
Internationally: Turkey, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, France, Germany, Belgium, United Kingdom
In the UK: Folkestone, Dover, Canterbury, Lewisham, Central London, Oxford, Coventry, Sheffield, Birmingham, Manchester
Lewis DohertyTheatre/Spoken WordOnline, Regionally: The Midlands & Oxford
London Academy of Music and Dramatic ArtTheatre/Spoken WordEngland, London
Sacha WaresTheatre/Spoken WordEngland, London, Touring
Sita ThomasTheatre/Spoken WordOnline, Wales
Sunita HindujaTheatre/Spoken WordOnline, Scotland, London, Touring
TangleTheatre/Spoken WordOnline, England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, London, Touring
Tara ArtsTheatre/Spoken WordEngland, Wales, London, Regionally: Manchester, Birmingham, Cardiff
Young Vic TheatreTheatre/Spoken WordOnline, England, London
Young Identity (Wordsmith Awards)Theatre/Spoken WordOnline, Manchester
_inventory platformVisual ArtsOnline
Valleys KidsVisual ArtsOnline, Wales
Whitechapel GalleryVisual ArtsOnline, England, London