It's of little doubt that the South Bank Sky Arts Awards are a major event each year. Hosted by Melvyn Bragg for the last two years, it's been the only awards show in the world to honour all of the arts, from dancing to TV via visual art, movies and the stage. It's a fantastic night and features some of the biggest stars in the entertainment industry, but it's also a night where some of the best young talent from across the UK can have their lives changed forever. I speak, of course, about the Sky Arts Scholarships programme.
The programme is open to UK residents aged between 18 and 30, and the winners receive £30,000 each in order to advance their artistic endeavours and cover the cost of living for a year, enabling young artists to focus their efforts on their art alone. In addition, the scholarship comes with mentoring from Sky and the Arts industry. It's a consistently popular programme and one which sees tens of thousands of young artists enter via online or through the Sky customer services.
Now in its fourth year, the Sky Academy Arts Scholarships have supported 20 young and emerging artists across a range of creative disciplines. This year, five artists were once again chosen, including one which was awarded exclusively to an Irish applicant, continuing Sky's tradition of supporting the Arts in Ireland. The five winners are as follows:
Sarah Maple (age 30, UK) Sarah is a visual artist from Crawley. In 2007 Sarah won the “4 New Sensations” competition for emerging artists, run by Charles Saatchi, and since then has exhibited artwork, films and performances internationally. Sarah’s work is a form of activism, using wit and humour to engage audiences with issues of gender, religion and politics. Her Sky Academy arts Scholarship project, working titled “I Disagree With What You Say” aims to create an exhibition of new paintings, photography and performances based on the concept of freedom of speech.
Adebayo Fakos (age 29, UK) Adebayo is a music producer based in London. Having begun his career in the UK underground scene, Adebayo has produced music for signed and unsigned artists including Giggs, Wretch 32 and JME. Adebayo’s Sky Academy Arts Scholarship project will focus on creating an EP comprised mostly of house music, followed by a live performance with collaborating artists.
Jonnie Bayfield (age 22, UK) Jonnie is a writer and performer from Great Yarmouth, currently living in London. His previous projects have included a variety of comedy, new writing and devised work with his theatre company Caligula’s Alibi. Jonnie’s Sky Academy Arts Scholarship project is to write an original novel with the working title “Coaster” and develop an accompanying performance piece based around growing up in the extremities of rural England. It follows Oscar Lime, a rudderless young man, as he attempts to come to terms with adulthood by stealing money from an elderly lady with dementia.
Anisa Haghdadi (age 25, UK) Anisa is a creative producer living and working in Birmingham. She set up her first social enterprise aged 15 and in 2012 was awarded the British Empire Medal in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for services to education and young people through the work of her most recent social enterprise, Beatfreeks. Anisa’s Sky Academy Arts Scholarship project, “Learn and Build” (LAB) will provide space, both physical and mental, for an eco-system of young creative innovators including social entrepreneurs, activists and artists to sprint work in an agile environment, culminating in a multi-disciplinary 'Festival of Audacity'.
Kevin Gaffney (age 28, Ireland) Kevin is a visual artist from Dublin, working in photography and film. His work has been shown in exhibitions and film festivals internationally, including the Sapporo International Art Festival (Japan, 2014) and the Poetry Project at the Royal Hibernian Academy (Dublin, 2013). For his Sky Academy Arts Scholarship project, Kevin plans to create and exhibit a new body of work titled “Tectonic Plates of Conversion” exploring areas of forgotten industries which remain as spectres on the Irish landscape.
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