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Young artists receive crucial funding from Highland arts community

(Photo above: Chloe Bryce, Tain)

New creative fund provides financial support and mentoring to emerging artists at a time when the arts are under threat

Talented young creatives have received a much needed boost from the Highland arts community in a bid to support them with their creative community projects, at a time when the arts world is currently under threat. With projects ranging from a theatre piece about lockdown in the Highlands to a documentary about climate change and a music video showcasing Gaelic and Scots culture, the successful artists will cover a wide spectrum of issues affecting young people throughout the Highlands at the moment.

Highland Youth Arts Hub (HYAH), a consortium of arts organisations led by Fèis Rois, was acutely aware of the potential talent drain within the rich arts community in the Highlands because of the Covid pandemic and came together to launch ‘Creative in Your Community’ last month; a fund to support and inspire young artists with their creative ambitions. Today, they can announce the recipients of the fund.

Each recipient will receive £1000 as well as 12 hours’ worth of mentoring from some of Scotland’s top arts professionals including; renowned Gaelic singer, Julie Fowlis, filmmaker Thomas Hogben, performance maker Robbie Synge, award-winning visual artist Joanne B Kaar, theatre maker Jenna Watt and Highland writer, Anne MacLeod.

The 17 recipients, who come from across the Highland Council region, are:

Taylor Black, 19, Lochaber; Chloe Bryce, 23, Tain; Mathilde Darmady, 18, Lybster; Ruairidh Gollan, 21, Edderton; Hester Grant, 25, Inverness; Rowen Henderson, 17, Nairn; Jade Hutchison, 20, Inverness; Iain Hyslop, 20, Avoch; Ilona Kennedy, 23, Kincraig; Jack Macgregor, 23, Inverness; Isabel McLeish, 22, Kyle of Lochalsh; Gillie O’Flaherty, 18, Ullapool; Sara Oussaiden, 16, Isle of Skye; Emma Ralph, 22, Inverness; Jodie Sandiford, 19, Grantown; Keira Smith, 21, Inverness; James Bauld, 19, Dornoch.

The projects include a music research project in Badenoch and Strathspey, an exploration of the North Highland fiddle traditions, a small anthology of short monologues and stories about the LGBTQ+ experience in the Highlands, a theatre piece about young people coming out of lockdown, a promotional music video showcasing Gaelic and Scots culture, a project to raise awareness of mental health illness in small towns and a short documentary exploring how young people are engaging with climate change in their communities.

Sara Oussaiden, the youngest recipient of a ‘Creative In Your Community’ award, is a 16-year-old student from the Isle of Skye, hoping to study at Art School in 2021. Although primarily Fine Art focused, Sara loves experimenting with ways to express her creativity through a variety of mediums such as sculpture, photography, theatre, and literature.

Sara, who will be mentored by visual artist Joanne B Kaar, commented: “The funding and mentoring offered through this opportunity will help me in the development and creation of my project, “From Inside”. I aim to produce a mixed media interactive installation that will prompt an open discussion in my community surrounding changes, both positive and negative, in mental health over lockdown.”

“Although a little nervous to carry out such a big project I’m so excited to have been selected and to have the support and mentoring to ensure I can carry out the project to the best of my ability. On top of all this, I’m really looking forward to meeting with the other selected young creatives and seeing how the different issues they’ve raised are expressed.”
Fiona Dalgetty, Chief Executive, Fèis Rois, one of the HYAH project partners, said: “At a time when the arts and cultural sectors are really suffering, it is a privilege to be able to support these incredibly talented emerging artists. The HYAH consortium was very impressed by the number, calibre and range of project ideas submitted, making the decision making much harder.

“Not only will this fund provide the crucial financial support they need in order to stay creative and realise their ideas, but it has motivated young talent in the Highlands to engage with their communities and give something back. It has provided artists with an opportunity to explore creative ideas close to their hearts and has given them focus at a time when things in the art world are very uncertain.”

Creative In Your Community’, was open to young artists, 16-25 years old, across the six art forms – dance, theatre, digital art/film, literature, music and visual art – who live in, or are originally from, the Highlands. Applicants were asked to come up with a project, involving at least one art form, which engages with their community, collaborates with a professional mentor and perhaps explores some of the challenges faced in Highland communities or around the world today.

The fund to support emerging artists at this difficult time was created by the Highland Youth Arts Hub with support from Creative Scotland. The organisations who have collaborated to deliver this project include, Fèis Rois, Moniack Mhor, Eden Court, Highland Print Studio, Fèisean nan Gàidheal, Lyth Arts Centre, North Lands Creative, Youth Highland and High Life Highland.

More information about each of the recipients can be found here: https://hyah.co.uk/2020/06/25/creative-in-your-community-2020/. To keep up to date with the recipients’ projects, please follow Highland Youth Arts Hub on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/highlandyouthartshub/.

Sara Oussaiden, Isle of Skye
Taylor Black, Lochaber
Rowen Henderson, Nairn