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South East development programmes are nurturing young and emerging artists

  • Date: 7 December 2012
  • Artform: Dance, Theatre, Visual arts
  • Area: South East
'no strings attached' - Rosie Heafford: Dancer 'no strings attached' - Rosie Heafford: Dancer, Credit: Alexandra Hemsley

Six Arts Council National portfolio organisations in the South East are currently managing programmes that support the professional development of individuals at the start of their careers.

These schemes strongly support the Arts Council’s core goal of ensuring that young people are provided the opportunities to experience the richness of the arts as well as to develop their artistic capabilities. The programmes offer invaluable mentoring, the opportunity to work alongside professionals plus facilitate a realistic sense of the artistic working environment. Each come at a critical time in the young artists’ burgeoning career. By investing in young people and their ideas, these organisations are giving young artists the resources, the confidence and the validation to progress in their artistic working careers.

The Platform Programme


On 22 November Joella Wheatley was announced as the inaugural recipient of the Platform Graduate Award 2012. The Platform Programme is managed by a coalition of four Arts Council National portfolio visual arts organisations, Aspex, Modern Art Oxford, Turner Contemporary and MK Gallery. This group form part of the Contemporary Visual Arts Network (CVAN), a consortium of 11 coordinated regional groups of contemporary visual arts professionals across the nine English regions. Joella will receive a 12 month tailored programme of professional development from the four galleries and a cash sum of £2,500 towards studio space.  

The Platform Programme selected its hopefuls from the work displayed at their graduate end of year 2012 shows. At each of the four galleries, curatorial and educational outreach teams worked together in an unprecedented collaboration to select six to nine graduates from their geographical locale to exhibit their work alongside established and international artists in the autumn. A shortlist of two graduates from each of the four galleries was put forward for the winning place announced at an event at Modern Art Oxford that involved a panel discussion on how young artists are supported through public galleries, commercial galleries and networks. This will be posted on frame and reference soon.  Mentors will meet with Joella and the partners before the new year to plan the programme of support.

Amanda King, Project Manager, CVAN South East says: ‘Running the Platform Award has highlighted for us the wealth of talent coming through the region's art colleges and our ability to support new talent through working together. The artists have been a pleasure to work with and we were bowled over by their commitment and enthusiasm for the project. We are already looking forward to next year's Platform award!’

Stephanie Allen, Visual Arts Relationship Manager, South East, Arts Council England says: ‘The galleries in the South East have a strong reputation for supporting artistic talent at all levels and the Platform programme allows them to use their combined experience and guidance to help future generations of artists onto their first essential rung of the ladder and strengthen the arts offer across the region.’

‘no strings attached’


Farnham Maltings is delivering the ‘no strings attached’ scheme, giving young theatre makers the opportunity to develop their first piece of theatre, a grant of between £500 and £1000 and support and mentoring during the development period. This autumn saw seven young theatre makers win the award: Gerald Curtis, Caroline Melia & Ellie Mills, Rich Gunston, Amber Rose May, Natalie Audley and Elizabeth Kent.


‘no strings attached’, is in its fourth year and is open to individuals or groups. Applicants presented their ideas to a panel of arts professionals and young people to decide on the winning recipients. This method of selection required the young artists to develop skills of presentation and planning and to deliver them professionally in an interview like setting, building skills required in their early careers. 


This year’s funded projects include a young graduate bringing together a company of disabled and non-disabled actors to make a piece of inclusive theatre, a puppetry piece designed by two young theatre designers and a young playwright will produce and stage a double bill of two plays to be performed at the Nightingale theatre in Brighton in January 2013.  


Recipients have been meeting with their mentors throughout November to plan the first steps.


Mentors are: Sho Shibata, Producer for StopGAP Dance Company; Fiona Baxter, Associate Director at Farnham Maltings; Katy Snelling, Programmer at Oxford Playhouse; Orla Flanagan, Theatre Producer for Brighton Dome and Festival and Sacha Lee, Creative Producer at The Point, Eastleigh.

Previous recipients of the award include theatre company ‘non zero one’ who have since gone on to create work for the National Theatre’s Inside Out Festival and are about to embark on a two week run of their new piece at the Barbican.


Gavin Stride, Director of Farnham Maltings says: ‘We wanted to create the simplest process with the least conditions, in the belief that changing our behaviour would encourage a greater range of new ideas and young people. And every group of young people we have invested in has delivered more than they promised.’


Richard Kingdom, Theatre Relationship Manager, South East for Arts Council England said, ‘no strings attached’ is a fantastic opportunity for young theatre makers in the South East to get their work made and seen. The mentoring they receive and the experience of putting together a proposal and pitching their ideas is also a hugely valuable part of the scheme.’


Jasmin Vardimon’s Professional Development Certificate


Jasmin Vardimon’s Professional Development Certificate provides emerging dancers with a unique opportunity to train as versatile and multi-disciplinary performers and to tour nationally alongside Jasmin Vardimon Company. More than 100 candidates attended the open auditions which involved short creative and performance driven exercises. 11 talented dancers from Spain, Greece, UK, France, Lithuania, Japan and Austria were selected to train full-time in the Jasmin Vardimon Company  Production space in Ashford and began their 25 week’s intensive training in October.

In the first five weeks of the course dancers have been learning the foundations of techniques and repertory and the methodology used in the creative process. The participants have just finished working with artistic director, Jasmin Vardimon on their first creation to be part of Tomorrow - a compilation of new work to be toured in 2013, that will include choreography by Jasmin Vardimon, Tim Casson and Mafalda Deville.

The course is suitable for school leavers and performers looking to continue their professional development, and it is hoped that dancers from the programme will be chosen to enter the main Jasmin Vardimon Company, go forward to lead educational work or continue as successful performers on their own creative path.


Jasmin Vardimon, Artistic Director, Jasmin Vardimon Dance Company says: ‘Our aim is to train and develop well-rounded stage artists in a variety of performance disciplines and at the same time enable them to develop their own creativity. By blurring the definitions between art forms and encouraging collaboration they will be able to create and present work in a new and engaging light’. 

The training is an annual programme with auditions for 2013-14 being held early next year. The company is holding an open week on 7th - 11th January 2013 which will serve as an insight to the Professional Development Certificate Course, ideally suitable for those looking to audition for the course later in 2013. To book your place, please email: