Pioneering new award to help Black artists bring work to the Fringe

Pioneering new award to help Black artists bring work to the Fringe

Eclipse Award patron Noma Dumezweni / credit: Helen Murray

The Eclipse Award will support independent Black-led companies to undertake a run at the world's largest arts festival

Sheffield-based theatre company Eclipse has announced a major new award to help British Black-led artists and companies bring work to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Presented in conjunction with Summerhall, the Eclipse Award will support the performers in overcoming the obstacles associated with undertaking a run at the famous month-long festival, including the provision of a £10k bursary, removing the upfront venue rental fee and contributing to costs associated with technical hires, marketing and networking. The winner will then stage a full run at Summerhall, a leading venue at the Fringe, with a straight box office split of 30% to the venue, 70% to the performer.

As comedian Sophie Duker observed in a column for iNews, despite a growing diversity in the Fringe's programme, the majority of August's offerings are dominated by white performers. Moreover, bringing work to Edinburgh has become increasingly expensive, with rising costs proving a major obstacle for smaller independent companies and emerging artists to present their work at the festival, which has long served as a crucial springboard for artists' careers and reputations in the UK and beyond. It therefore comes as no surprise that the Eclipse Award has been backed by several leading Black British actors, including Rakie Ayola and Danny Sapani, who recently starred in Marvel's Black Panther.

Another patron, award-winning actor Noma Dumezweni – who first appeared at the Fringe in 2000's The Bogus Woman, and who went on to star as Hermione Granger in the original Broadway and West End runs of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – paid special homage to the role of the Fringe in kickstarting her stage career. '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.' says Dumezweni. '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'.

For more details on eligibility and how to apply, please visit Summerhall's website. The deadline for entries is noon on Monday 4 February 2019.

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