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Three organisations awarded first Mo Siewcharran grants of 2021

Theatre company Cheek by Jowl, the Liverpool and Merseyside Theatres Trust, and Comma Press have been announced as the first three organisations this year to be awarded Mo Siewcharran grants.

The grants, administered through the Mo Siewcharran Fund, will support these companies to each take on an intern this year from an ethnicity that is under-represented in the either publishing or theatre.

This award comes at a timely moment for Barbican-based Shakespeare specialists Cheek by Jowl who are celebrating their 40th anniversary. Teya Lanzon, General Manager of Cheek by Jowl said:

“We are honoured to have been awarded a grant from the Mo Siewcharran fund… in 2021, a year which sees us celebrate our 40th anniversary as a company. We would like to thank Creative Access for this grant, and for all of the essential work that they do in nurturing the next generation of leaders. Cheek by Jowl is also committed to this mission, and we hope this internship will be another step in the push for equality of opportunity across the arts sector and a workforce that truly reflects and represents the communities in which we live.”

The Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse Theatres are committed to diversifying the stories that ultimately make it from page to stage. Through this grant, they will bring in a Literary Assistant Intern who will in turn help unearth new writing talent from under-represented groups in Merseyside – a double-win for them. Francesca Peschier, New Works Associate at Liverpool and Merseyside Theatres Trust said:

“Literary management is an overwhelmingly white sector of the theatre industry and needs to urgently diversify to expand and broaden the work that reach our stages. As a theatre, we are committed to diversifying our team and providing accessible opportunities for individuals, especially from under-represented groups to train, develop and be supported to create. We cannot wait to recruit someone who is passionate about stories to help us find and tell new ones.”

Manchester-based Comma Press, who specialise in publishing short stories and translated fiction largely from Arabic to English, are also a grant recipient. They will train up a Publicity and Marketing Assistant. Becca Parkinson, Engagement Manager at Comma Press said:

“We are grateful to be able to offer this opportunity to under-represented new talent keen to enter the publishing industry at a challenging time for the creative industries. This placement… contributes towards our aims to decentralise the publishing industry and propel aspiring publishers, as well as enhancing the capacity of our organisation to publish great stories and host our wide-ranging events programme”

Reflecting on the challenges facing the creative sector, John Seaton, Mo’s husband and Founder of the fund, acknowledged that this pandemic had been difficult both for those working in the creative industries, and for Black, Asian, and ethnically diverse employees more generally. Combined, this paints a worrying picture for ethnic diversity within the UK’s creative industries. That these “bellwether” organisations are taking deliberate positive action to provide routes into meaningful employment in the sector for those whose employment prospects have been hardest hit by the pandemic, is a signal of true leadership. He added:

“This past year has been tough for many creative organisations and applications this round were stronger than ever. It is a genuine privilege for me in these unprecedented times to support these three organisations in the pursuit of diversity. I know Mo would have wholly approved of our decision to support organisations which have a significant regional impact and not just focused around the Capital. Her legacy lives on as the Fund continues to transform lives.”

Any theatre or publisher wishing to apply for the next round of Mo Siewcharran grants should email here for the application form. The deadline for the next round of application is 1st July 2021.