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Yinka Ayinde and Caitlin McLeod win £30k Sky Academy scholarships

Caitlin McLeod (second left) and Yinka Ayinde (far right) with the other Sky Academy arts scholarships winners. Photo: Andrea Southam Caitlin McLeod (second left) and Yinka Ayinde (far right) with the other Sky Academy arts scholarships winners. Photo: Andrea Southam
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Theatremakers Yinka Ayinde and Caitlin McLeod are among the five winners of this year’s Sky Academy arts scholarships.

Ayinde, a creative producer, and McLeod, who is a director, will both receive £30,000 in funding, as well as mentoring from Sky and other members of the creative industry.

Each of the five winners will use the funding and mentoring to further a particular project.

Ayinde will re-imagine the cult TV show Kenan and Kel in a 21st-century London setting. The show will follow his debut production, Afrobeat musical Oliva Tweest, which ran at the Hackney Empire in 2014.

Receiving the award, Ayinde said: “When I found out I won I was laughing with happiness for about an hour… I grew up being a crazy fan of Kenan and Kel and I even still watch the episodes now. I’m looking forward to exploring my creativity to re-imagine it within a British setting and I know it’ll inspire a whole new audience to attend theatre.”

Ayinde recently spoke at the Theatre 2016 conference, where he warned that theatre risks losing a new generation of audiences if it does not stay connected to popular culture.

McLeod, who has previously assisted on productions at the National Theatre and the Royal Court, London, will set up a new theatre company called the Coterie, which will have a focus on helping female writers explore daring ideas.

She said winning the scholarship felt like “the first time that I’ll be able to follow a dream project”.

“To have someone affirm this idea’s validity and importance is unbelievable. The Sky Academy arts scholarships are a unique opportunity to invest in the process rather than the product,” she added.

Other winners of the scholarships include musician Jasdeep Singh Degun, film-maker Sarah Grant, and Gearoid O’Dea, a visual artist from Dublin.

The Sky Academy arts scholarships judges included Sky Arts director Phil Edgar-Jones, the Barbican Centre’s director of arts, Louise Jeffreys, Home executive director Sheena Wrigley and Farooq Chaudhry, who is creative producer of English National Ballet.

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