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Noma Dumezweni backs new £10k Edinburgh Fringe award to support black independent artists

Actor Noma Dumezweni is supporting the initiative between Eclipse and Summerhall to promote black artists Photo: Helen Murray
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Touring company Eclipse has teamed up with Edinburgh venue Summerhall to create an award dedicated to helping black artists at the fringe.

The Eclipse Award is being supported by actors Noma Dumezweni, Raki Ayola and Danny Sapani and will offer an independent company or artist a £10,000 cash bursary and a range of marketing, press and tech support to take a show to the Edinburgh Fringe in 2019.

Sheffield-based black theatre company Eclipse has established the award in order to break down the barriers faced by minority ethnic artists at the fringe.

It hopes to do this by removing the upfront venue rental cost and contributing to other costs including accommodation and travel, alongside the support package.

Dumezweni, who is currently appearing in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on Broadway, said: “It’s fantastic to see an established company like Eclipse continually opening doors for black artists and pushing to make the theatre industry more representative of the whole of society. Being a part of the Edinburgh Fringe was a major milestone in my career. I’m really pleased to be a patron to this award and to offer my support to the next generation of young black artists.”

The winner will perform a run in one of Summerhall’s venues on a box office split, with 70% of profits going to the company. Applications are open to black artists and black-led companies based in the UK outside Scotland.

Eclipse artistic director Dawn Walton added that the fringe can be a “huge springboard” but also comes with many barriers that restrict access for black independent artists.

“With the Eclipse Award we are hoping to both highlight and remove some of those barriers by providing an opportunity that includes a package of financial support as well as care and advice throughout the process,” she said.

“We know how hard it can be to raise the funds for Edinburgh. We also know it can be an isolating experience being a black company or artist in the Festival and we want to change all that,” she added.

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