Last year, Zahra Khan was one of the successful recipients of the Creative Access x McLaren Racing Career Development Bursary. With the second round of the bursary just announced, Zahra tells us what she’s used the bursary for over the past year and how its impacted her creative career…
I was working as a barista and waitress in a London cafe when I applied for the Creative Access and McLaren Career Development Bursary. I was completely struggling to pay rent and stay afloat. Needless to say, I did not have the disposable income needed to invest in creative pursuits. When I was awarded the bursary, it opened the door for me to be able to independently produce a radio show and make prints again.
“Being awarded the bursary has had a huge impact on my life and work. It gave me a confidence boost to know that someone believed in the value of my work.”
I’ve been presenting a monthly radio show with community-based radio station Dublin Digital Radio for the last two years. My show is a platform to discuss research related to South Asian diasporic identity, culture, and history. I used to present from a studio in Dublin, but in London, I did not have the equipment needed to continue remotely presenting the show. The bursary allowed me to buy a microphone which I have since used to interview guests and record myself, allowing my show to survive.
I’m particularly proud of a show I recorded last February using the bursary. I interviewed the founder of Hungama, a queer Bollywood night in London, and recorded snippets of a discussion in RichMix about brown LGBTQ+ nightlife. I used these recordings to create a radio documentary about queer South Asian nightlife in London.
The bursary allowed me to purchase equipment for my work as a visual artist. I was able to buy Photoshop and a UV lamp which I’ve since used to produce cyanotype prints on both paper and glass. I would never have been able to experiment with glass printing without the support of this bursary.
Being awarded the bursary has had a huge impact on my life and work. It gave me a confidence boost to know that someone believed in the value of my work. Trying to make it in the creative world can be frustrating, expensive, and challenging. You’ve got to believe in yourself and your work, and at the beginning of your career, you can feel like an imposter staring in at the work of established creatives. The bursary reminded me that my work can be taken seriously, even in its very early stages.
My portfolio of work continues to build and has landed me opportunities such as creating artwork for local bands and even an internship offer at the Financial Times. I’ve been able to live off my freelance writing career and was recently awarded a bursary by the Arts Council which will allow me the time and opportunity to write a booklet of experimental prose about colonisation in Ireland and South Asia.
None of this would have been possible without the boost that being awarded this bursary gave me. Even just the process of filling out the application has given me the confidence to apply and research for more awards, grants, scholarships, and bursaries. The creative world can still seem like a scary space, but the Creative Access x McLaren bursary has given me some of the tools I need to navigate it.
The next round of the Creative Access x McLaren Racing Career Development Bursary is now open for applications. Find out more and apply here by 7th Novemeber 2022.