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Battersea Arts Centre launches award to support small-scale artists

Amy Leon, the first recipient of BACs Phoenix Award. Photo: Alex Schaefer Amy Leon, the first recipient of BACs Phoenix Award. Photo: Alex Schaefer
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Battersea Arts Centre has established an award dedicated to providing small-scale artists the opportunity to present work on larger stages.

The Phoenix Award is one of a number of new initiatives announced by BAC, in south London, as it prepares to reopen its Grand Hall three years after it was destroyed by a fire.

The award will provide one artist or company with a commission worth a minimum of £4,000, the opportunity to present work in the newly open Grand Hall as part of the first season of work in the space and free tickets to see every other show in the forthcoming season.

They will also be given residency time at BAC, including accommodation in one of its artist bedrooms.

This will be awarded annually for at least the next three years, and BAC has already announced that the first recipient will be New York-based actor, poet and musician Amy Leon.

Elsewhere, disabled theatremaker Jess Thom, of Touretteshero, will be working with BAC over 18 months to help develop and pilot a methodology to extend the idea of relaxed performances across the entire venue. Relaxed Venues is being developed as part of Arts Council England’s Change Makers programme.

At a launch event announcing the new initiatives and work – held on the third anniversary of the Grand Hall fire – BAC artistic director David Jubb reaffirmed the organisation’s commitment to the Scratch creation process, in which new ideas are tested and developed in front of members of the public.

He said that part of the building’s redevelopment will include the creation of a Scratch Hub, in the spaces beneath the Grand Hall, that will function as a co-working space for creatives and local start-ups working to affect social change.

This means the artistic work BAC presents will be “just one frame in the kaleidoscope of ideas, projects and stories” nurtured by the organisation, Jubb said.

Throughout the Phoenix season – the first to include work in the Grand Hall – BAC will present tasters of new creative work to audiences before performances, and this will be extended to include showcases of ideas and businesses using the Scratch Hub.

Jubb said: “We will be hosting five-minute slots before shows for artists to scratch ideas but also for sharing an item or entrepreneurs sharing a new venture, or local voluntary groups sharing their future ambitions.

“This is because we don’t just think arts centres and museums are about shows and exhibitions. We are about change. We are a home for everyone’s creativity, which expresses itself in myriad ways, and we want to reflect that when the Grand Hall reopens.”