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Announcing England’s Performing Arts Showcase Consortium

Photograph (c) Emma Jones

Announcing England’s Performing Arts Showcase Consortium

Commissioned by Arts Council England

A new flagship International Showcase celebrating performance created in England will be piloted during the Edinburgh Festivals in 2021. The showcase will be led by a consortium comprising Battersea Arts Centre, Dance4, Fierce, GIFT, MAYK and Transform.

The organisations involved have been successful in securing an initial investment of £500,000 from Arts Council England for a pilot year, following an open call in summer 2019 for a consortium to devise and deliver a brand-new performing arts showcase at the Edinburgh festivals from 2021-2023. The decision on this highly competitive process had been postponed due to Covid-19.

With partners Battersea Arts Centre and Dance4, four of the UK’s brightest and most artist-centred international performing arts festivals will now work collectively to shape an artist focused and international showcase model. This collaborative approach will globally connect England’s performing arts sector, and celebrate a new generation of international artists and cultural leaders across England. The pilot year in 2021 will take place online, UK-wide and in Edinburgh.

Responsive to the current global context, the consortium will champion ambitious, sustainable and innovative practices for 2021 and beyond, via a physical and pioneering digital showcase. Centring care, community and inclusivity, the showcase will connect artists based across England with bespoke international touring opportunities. Prioritising low carbon working and innovative technology, the consortium’s ambition is for the showcase to be one of the most environmentally sustainable international initiatives in the world.

More than an annual event, the consortium will work throughout the year to support the development of artists in England, build international practices and offer performance opportunities in Edinburgh and beyond.

The inclusive, daring and cross-disciplinary approach of the consortium will support artists through mentoring, financial support and performance opportunities to connect with others on the global stage. The showcase will engage with artists and organisations across the country from the home cities and towns of the six core partners – Birmingham, Bristol, Gateshead, Leeds, London and Nottingham – and beyond, with a number of year-round performance, exchange and artistic leadership opportunities.

The pilot version of the new showcase is scheduled to take place at the Edinburgh festivals in August 2021 with a combined digital offer and build-up programme across England. More details to be announced as the showcase team further develop approaches and plans.

Paul Russ, Chief Executive and Artistic Director of Dance4 said:

‘We’re delighted to be working with this magnificent consortium of festivals to realise the new England Performing Arts Showcase. This award provides an opportunity to disrupt the established showcasing models and to work with artists to realise a programme where artists truly inform the experience’

Aaron Wright, Artistic Director of Fierce said:

‘We’re excited to be awarded this opportunity alongside a dream team of partners, to have a national conversation with a view to fundamentally shifting the way we programme and present performing arts in England. We want to rethink what is relevant, what we showcase to the world and why and what it says about us as a country only just starting to reckon with its past. We also bring a healthy scepticism to the behemoth of Edinburgh, which we recognise is a model that does not work for everyone and therefore artist care will be central to our approach.’

Kate Craddock, Festival Director of GIFT: Gateshead International Festival of Theatre said:

‘GIFT is thrilled to be part of the successful consortium leading on England’s Performing Arts Showcase, which offers a phenomenal opportunity to re-imagine how artists are supported to platform their work and develop their practice across the Edinburgh Festivals. The geographical reach of this consortium across England will ensure this exceptional investment from Arts Council England will have significant impact on the performing arts ecology across the country – something that feels especially important for GIFT from our home in North East England. The opportunity to work alongside such a brilliant group of colleagues who all share the same ambitions for internationalising artist opportunities across the sector feels truly game changing - and we can’t wait to get started!’

Kate Yedigaroff and Matthew Austin, Co-Directors of MAYK said:

‘We’re thrilled to be part of this excellent group of forward-thinking organisations.

This new showcase creates vital new opportunities for international collaboration at a time when physical proximity is more difficult and when we’re having to fight harder than ever for the importance of internationalism. It recognises that placing artists at the heart of the process will make the showcase stronger, fairer and more exciting. We can’t wait to get stuck in.’

Amy Letman, Creative Director of Transform said:

‘This is an incredible opportunity for England’s Performing Arts sector to look out to the world at a time when it’s needed most. Transform is thrilled to be working with this extraordinary alchemy of partners to create a forward-thinking and inclusive showcase that foregrounds independent artists and works to catalyse performance created in England on an international stage. This ambitious three-year project will majorly impact our sector’s international connections and relevance, and will resonate in our home city of Leeds and across the country.’

Tarek Iskander, Artistic Director & CEO of Battersea Arts Centre said:

‘Together with our partners, our collective ambition is to use this incredible opportunity to prove that a re-imagined showcase within the context of Edinburgh can achieve many things. That it can put artists and creative communities at the centre, connect them with stronger international partnerships, that it can be more inclusive, representative and accessible for everyone; and that ambitious environmental sustainability can be at the heart. It’s a tough ask, and there will be much learning along the way – but we’re up for the challenge. And I hope it will feel like a true group effort, with artists and communities and organisations up and down the country, involved in different ways.’

Simon Mellor, Deputy CEO, Arts and Culture at Arts Council England said:

‘We are delighted to be collaborating with the consortium on this exciting new showcase in Edinburgh that will provide a platform for artists and companies based in England to launch a host of new national and international collaborations. This investment is an important first step towards realising the international ambitions within our new strategy, Let’s Createand helping build a post-Covid cultural sector in this country that is innovative, collaborative and international.’

Battersea Arts Centre:




Hannah Barnett Leveson, Press and Communications Manager, Battersea Arts Centre | 07894 905 414




Battersea Arts Centre is a hub for everyone’s creativity. Based in an iconic building with a radical history, it supports people to take creative risks, to inspire change, locally, nationally, and globally.

Battersea Arts Centre encourages people to test and develop new ideas with members of the public - a processcalled Scratch. Scratch is used by artists to make theatre, by young people to develop entrepreneurial ideas and as a helpful process for anyone who wants to get creative.

Battersea Arts Centre is the world’s first Relaxed Venue, the first to have gone through Touretteshero’s brand new Relaxed Venue method of identifying and dismantling the barriers faced by disabled people, striving to radically embed access and inclusivity across all its activities. For Battersea Arts Centre, this includes a relaxed attitude to noise and movement during performances, a designated 'chill-out space' for guests and ear defenders are available for those with sensory sensitivities.

Scratch has been adopted as far afield as Sydney and New York and shows and projects developed by people at Battersea Arts Centre travel across the UK and the world. The organisation has successfully sparked new approaches to creativity across the globe.

In an average year, Battersea Arts Centre

Welcomes over 160,000 people to its building

Inspires the local community to get creative including 3000 young people

Works with over 400 artists to put on over 800 performances and tour at least 10 shows and projects


Dance4 is an internationally recognised dance development organisation based in Nottingham, nurturing new ideas in choreography. With a unique voice in the UK dance sector, Dance4 supports international and UK artists to develop new ideas in choreography alongside the public as participants and makers. Dance4 produces Nottdance, a biennial festival celebrating new choreographic practices and leads on Dance from England, a project to develop new international opportunities for independent artists and producers.


Fierce is the West Midlands leading organisation for Live Art with a national and international reputation. Fierce produces the biennale Fierce Festival, with the 2019 edition described as a 'daring whirl of theatrical thrills' in The Guardian's five star review. Fierce transforms the city and the way we feel about it: populating theatres, galleries and hidden, unusual or out-of-the-ordinary spaces like disused warehouses, swimming pools and car parks. You might see theatre, dance, performance art, music, installations, activism and parties or a combination of all those things in a programme of memorable experiences and events. Fierce also produce a number of artist development programmes as well as notorious late night event series Club Fierce. Fierce is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation.


GIFT: Gateshead International Festival of Theatre is North East England’s creative home for contemporary theatre. Placing artistic experimentation and collaboration at its core, GIFT’s annual three day festival offers a supportive platform for artists to come together and to push the boundaries of their practice. International in scope and interconnected in approach, GIFT is a carefully curated conversation, providing a meeting point for meaningful exchange between artists and audiences based in North East England and the wider world.

GIFT 2020 rapidly transposed into a virtual edition, and was recognised by the Guardian as a ‘virtual virtuoso delight’ that ‘moved ingeniously online’ (Wyver, K. 3May 2020). Founded in 2011 by Festival Director Kate Craddock, in response to a gap in the regional cultural offer, GIFT is committed to presenting contemporary and experimental practices that otherwise wouldn’t be seen in North East England.


MAYK is one of the country’s leading live performance producing organisations. Based in Bristol but working internationally, we create dynamic meeting points for participation in world-class live performance bothin and out of traditional art spaces. Led by Kate Yedigaroff and Matthew Austin, MAYK was established in 2011 and continues to make a space for a holistic, long term approach to creating memorable experiences that are accessible to lots of people. MAYK curate and produce Mayfest, Bristol’s biennial international festival of contemporary theatre. Otherrecent projects include Still House’s SESSION, co-produced with LIFT, Caroline Williams and Reem Karssli’s NowIs The Time To Say Nothing and Verity Standen’s Undersong.

MAYK is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation and a Bristol City Council Cultural Investment Partner.


Transform is an engine room for urgent, of the moment theatre. We are the creators of the biennial Transform festivals, citywide takeovers of powerful performance by UK and international artists. Focused on reimagining what theatre can look like and what it can do, we present theatre works everywhere from arts venues across Leeds, to city sites and outdoor spaces. Celebrating the independent and adventurous spirit of Leeds, we reflect the socially conscious and radical North, and connect to the world. Transform is led by Creative Director Amy Letman and was established as an independent company in 2015. Commissioning and producing credits include ‘The Believers Are But Brothers’ by Javaad Alipoor, ‘Idol’ by Jamal Gerald and guest programme ‘Spirit of Change’ for the Barbican. Transform leads the Creative Europe supported network‘Festivals of the Future’ supporting founder and femaleled festivals across Europe. ‘Transform has changed the way audiences experience Leeds’ - The Guardian


Arts Council England is the national development agency for creativity and culture. We have set out our strategic vision in Let’s Create that by 2030 we want England to be a country in which the creativity of each of us is valued and given the chance to flourish and where everyone of us has access to a remarkable range of high quality cultural experiences. We invest public money from Government and The National Lottery to help support the sector and to deliver this vision.

Following the Covid-19 crisis, the Arts Council developed a £160 million Emergency Response Package, with nearly 90% coming from the National Lottery, for organisations and individuals needing support. We are also one of several bodies administering the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund, an unprecedented support package of £1.57 billion for the culture and heritage sector. Find out more at,uk/covid19



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