Dare to Devise

In this blog post,  Jessica Mai Sims writes about Dare to Devise, Nearly There Yet's exciting development scheme for mid-career artists looking to make work in an interdisciplinary context. 



Nearly There Yet is currently running Dare to Devise – a development scheme giving a group of mid-career artists the opportunity for focused mentoring as well as funding and space to realise their artistic projects. The scheme was created to try to address underrepresentation in circus, in terms of artists who are interested in exploring circus in an interdisciplinary context, artists who may have lacked the confidence or support to develop their work, and artists from coming from different backgrounds. 

Successful applications were set to receive £4000 to make a piece of work, 2 weeks of rehearsal space at Proteus in Basingstoke, mentoring from Kaveh Rahnama for their creative work and support from Fergus Evans (Producer, Proteus) to prepare an application for an ACE Grant for the Arts.  It is supported by Arts Council England, Albany, and ARC Stockton Arts Centre.


Selection of Artists

Each application was assessed according to a standard selection criteria and judged against the merits of their submitted application. Some of the most important criteria for the shortlisting were the stated reasons of why artist would benefit from this scheme in particular (as opposed just the funding or the space), the merit of the idea in terms of creativity and originality, that the project would benefit UK audiences, and the feasibility and legacy of the overall project. 

We were overwhelmed with the quantity and quality of applications. We received 58 applications and barely were able to narrow down 9 applicants for the interview process. Not all applicants were previously known to the panel and we were particularly happy to see a good representation of candidates from different parts of the UK.  

Initially our goal was to choose 3 applications to receive the scheme; however the panel found choosing only 3 applications incredibly difficult. In the end, compromises were offered to the applicants based on need. We are really excited to be working with Lucie N’Duhirahe, Lucy Frost, Si Rawlinson and Truan Jay Mathias, and have will be adding more information about them and their projects on our website as they develop.


Inclusive and Representative Arts

As a company, we are interested in finding ways to address some of the social inequalities in the arts and we hoped that Dare to Devise might be a way to address this – both in terms of artists and audiences. Dare to Devise is a scheme about artistic and organisational development of a workforce, but we had hoped by promoting it to artists of different ethnic, class and geographical backgrounds, it might impact equality and diversity as well.

We want our artistic workforce to reflect the society in which we live so that audiences can engage with a range of experiences and perspectives and future artists can see that they have a chance to succeed regardless of coming from established social networks or wealthy backgrounds. 

We are keen to improve our organisational policies and practices in relation to promoting equality and diversity. If you are an artist or organisation also interested in this aim, get in touch. We’d love to work with others to realise an arts inclusive to all.