Hazy, purple lights wash over a group of people, who stand, arms outstretched, amid a burst of purple confetti.

ANNOUNCING A NEW PERFORMING ARTS SHOWCASE

We’re teaming up with Dance4, Fierce, GIFT, MAYK and Transform, to produce a new showcase celebrating a new generation of artists across England, as part of the Edinburgh Festival from 2021. Commissioned by Arts Council England.

Together, we have secured an initial investment of £500,000 from Arts Council England for the first year of the showcase.

Alongside Battersea Arts Centre and Dance4, four of the UK’s brightest and most artist-centred international performing arts festivals will work collectively, to shape an artist focused and international showcase model. This will join up England’s performing arts sector, to 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.

To respond to the current global context, we’ll be championing ambitious, sustainable and innovative ways of working for 2021 and beyond. With care, community and inclusivity at its heart, the showcase will connect artists based across England with international touring opportunities. Prioritising a low carbon footprint and innovative technology, the ambition is for the showcase to be one of the most environmentally sustainable initiatives in the world.

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

Through an inclusive, daring and cross-disciplinary approach, artists will be supported through mentoring, financial support and performance opportunities to connect with others on the global stage. The showcase will work 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 first showcase will take place at Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August 2021.

Tarek Iskander, our Artistic Director & CEO 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 in-ternational partnerships, that it can be more inclusive, representative and accessible for eve-ryone; 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.’

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 estab-lished 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 pre-sent 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 geograph-ical 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 Eng-land. 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 al-chemy of partners to create a forward-thinking and inclusive showcase that foregrounds inde-pendent 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 connec-tions and relevance, and will resonate in our home city of Leeds and across the country.’

Tarek Iskander, our Artistic Director & CEO 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 in-ternational partnerships, that it can be more inclusive, representative and accessible for eve-ryone; 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 Create and helping build a post-Covid cultural sector in this country that is innovative, collaborative and international.’

Photograph by Emma Jones.