Camden People’s Theatre announces new commissions to support artists and the local community

  • Newly secured Paul Hamlyn Foundation funding will be granted to nineteen artists creating new work, with emphasis on marginalised voices
  • Projects will explore what ‘live’ can be in the era of social distancing – and will be selected with input from a new community panel
  • Ongoing collaboration with charity Food For All to provide emergency supplies for local community
  • Best Before party offers a unique night out with cut-price drinks

Since shutting its doors on 17th March 2020, Camden People’s Theatre has been working non-stop behind the scenes, refocusing its efforts to provide urgent financial support for artists and its local community, two groups disproportionately affected by the Covid crisis. Now, thanks to funding from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, CPT is announcing its biggest ever round of commissions to offer much-needed support to artists, with particular focus on marginalised voices. The commissions include: four Outside the Box commissions, bespoke to the Covid era, to develop larger-scale projects, nine Seed Commissions specifically for marginalised artists to develop new ideas, and six Starting Blocks artist development places for early-career freelance artists.

Welcoming submissions from artists across the UK, four brand new Outside the Box commissions are open for work which is either live, virtual, or both and which explores what ‘live performance’ can be at a time of closed theatres. CPT also welcome projects that communicate meaningfully – and promise exciting cultural encounters – with their local communities, themselves isolated in many cases by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Outside the Box commission will support R&D towards a digital or live sharing in autumn 2020 or spring 2021.

CPT commits to offering minimum two of the four commissions to artists/companies from marginalised backgrounds, many of whom have been particularly adversely affected by Covid-19 and the lockdown, including artists of colour, d/Deaf and disabled artists and artists from working-class backgrounds. The judging panel will comprise members of CPT’s local community and artists from marginalised backgrounds alongside members of the CPT team.

Additionally, nine Seed Commissions will be offered exclusively to artists from marginalised backgrounds for projects for digital presentation or working towards live performance when the sector starts to reopen. Applications will launch in August 2020 with projects delivered within 12 months. Finally, CPT will offer six places on their ten-week residency and peer network for early-career artists, Starting Blocks, which has been funded for the first time. At least three of the places will be offered to voices from marginalised groups.

To apply, artists can find out more here.

As well as their new commissions, Camden People’s Theatre is staying highly active in its community:

  • The arts venue continues to act as a food distribution hub, working with Central London-based food relief charity Food For All as a base to provide emergency support donations for local residents and the wider community. Since operating from the theatre at the start of June they have given out approx. 6750 meal packs across the Camden/Islington area.
  • CPT’s Camden Youth Theatre programme will continue to meet weekly throughout the summer to create a new piece of digital performance, working with professional artists and technicians to bring their ideas to life. Alongside this, CYT will create a new podcast – Brushing Your Teeth with CYT – which will see local young people submit a one-minute audio performance. Six will be selected to be interviewed and have their work promoted via the podcast. Interviews will be 3 mins – as long as you’re meant to brush your teeth!
  • For one-day only (29th August), the Best Before Party will allow visitors to book a one-hour slot for up to six people to enjoy a good night out and support the theatre by drinking their about-to-expire drinks. Visitors will be served by the CPT team, it’s £6 to book a slot and all drinks (soft and alcoholic) will be reduced by up to 50% (on-sale Tuesday 18th August)
  • This autumn, CPT also launches CPT Digital, a new banner under which the theatre will support and promote the best digital work being made by its favourite artists. Support will range from marketing and promotion, to use of CPT’s space for rehearsal and filming, to financial assistance. CPT Digital launches on September 12 with the live-stream of migrant and refugee comedy night No Direction Home, produced by Counterpoints Arts and CPT.
  • On Sunday 27th September, CPT will host a socially distanced afternoon festival of culture celebrating the residents of Tolmer’s Square, Drummond Street and Foundry Mews. Taking place on the green at the centre of the square, residents will be able to watch from their balconies, windows and doors for free. Full line up to be announced soon.

Executive Director Kaya Stanley-Money said; “We are beyond grateful to our funders and supporters who have made it possible for us to announce such an extraordinary series of commissions and community projects to support those most affected by the Covid-19 crisis. After months of crisis management we cannot wait to get creative again. Whilst we continue to fight for the survival of our organisation and the sector, these initiatives offer much-needed work and professional development for a raft of independent artists and freelancers.”

CPT is continuing to support artists at this difficult time, and is engaged in an ongoing delicate balancing act between its responsibilities to its artists and community, and its need to ensure its own long-term survival. If you are able to support their work with a one-off or regular donation please visit the ‘support us’ pages on our website.

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