ECLIPSE THEATRE, the UK’s leading black theatre company, has announced that its pioneering Eclipse Award will return for a second year.
The Eclipse Award was created to help UK black-led theatre companies and artists to achieve the notoriously difficult but life-changing step of undertaking a run at the world-famous Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Presented by Eclipse and Summerhall, one of the festival’s leading venues, the ground-breaking award is open to UK artists of black, African and Caribbean backgrounds and artists who are also marginalised for their race who make boundary-pushing performance work.
The first award of its kind, it aims to tackle barriers faced by Black artists looking to take work to Edinburgh by removing the upfront venue rental cost and offering a contribution to technical hires, access, marketing and networking costs, accommodation and travel, allowing the recipient to perform their work at the highest possible standard.
The winning company or artist will receive a significant £10k cash bursary which will help to fund a run at Summerhall as part of the 2020 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, alongside a bespoke package of marketing support and technical and production guidance.
Patrons backing the Award this year include actors Danny Sapani and Rakie Ayola and Noma Dumezweni, who have both played Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in the West End, who also lent their support to the Award in 2019. Noma commented: “I am proud to continue supporting Eclipse.”
Eclipse Theatre is at the forefront of delivering diverse programming in theatre, film and radio.
It has been an exciting time for the company following the appointment of Amanda Huxtable as Artistic Director/CEO, and Shawab Iqbal as new Executive Producer, and having recently moved its headquarters from Sheffield to Leeds.
Amanda Huxtable, Artistic Director/CEO at Eclipse Theatre comments: “Since taking over the reins at Eclipse in December, I’ve been really excited to start the search for the next recipient of The Eclipse Award.
“The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is an important platform for emerging independent artists, but the reality is that because of venue hire, accommodation and travel costs – as well as many other barriers – it often just isn’t a possibility for independent Black artists. I’m looking forward to the exciting discussions around the panel table. I can’t wait to see which show will win this year’s Eclipse Award.”
“The awarded artist will also receive a considered package of care, named ‘The Love Package’ which is supported by the Sick of the Fringe and for 2020, additional cash investment from Eclipse Chair Stella Kanu in honour of her mum Mrs Lovedale Kanu.
‘The Love Package’ honours real life unsung black British ‘Sheroes’ – heroes and superheroes – and helps artists with emotional and mental support throughout their run at the Fringe.
Nottingham-based theatre maker Rachael Young received the inaugural award in 2019 which enabled her to present two shows as part of Summerhall’s curated Edinburgh Festival Fringe programme: ‘NIGHTCLUBBING’ and ‘OUT’. Both shows received critical acclaim, with The Stage referring to ‘OUT’ as “Stunning, expressive dance theatre that creates a dynamic conversation about race and sexuality through the body” and The Scotsman praising ‘NIGHTCLUBBING’ as “a celebration of the power of black women.”
Young said: “As a black artist from a working-class background, it always felt like the Edinburgh Festival Fringe was unreachable for me; without the money from the Eclipse Award, I just wouldn’t have been able to do it. I think it’s great that Summerhall and Eclipse are doing something to combat a Fringe that isn’t very diverse.
“To be able to showcase my work at an international event whilst opening up a conversation around fairer representation has been incredible. The reaction to my shows at last year’s Festival from both audiences and critics proves that there’s an appetite for work by black artists.
“I’m excited to see who will receive the award this year and be able to enjoy the same invaluable Fringe experience that I had.”
The winner will perform a full run at one of Summerhall’s venues on a straight box office split, 70 per cent to the company and 30 per cent to the venue. Entries are open to black artists and black-led companies based in the UK outside Scotland. Student and non-professional companies and Arts Council England NPOs are not eligible to apply.
The winner will be chosen by a panel of representatives from Eclipse Theatre and Summerhall.
Those who wish to apply can do so by visiting https://www.summerhall.co.uk/summerhall-performance-programme/; the deadline for entries is 12noon on Monday 2 March 2020.