Birmingham arts organisation shortlisted for awards

Friction Arts in line for Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation’s Award for Civic Arts Organisations.

Birmingham-based Friction Arts is thrilled to announce it has been shortlisted for the first Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch)’s Award for Civic Arts Organisations for its community outreach work in response to the pandemic.

Friction is one of only ten civic arts organisations across the UK to make the shortlist chosen from 260 applications.

The Award, in partnership with King’s College London, highlights and celebrates civic arts organisations and their response to the pandemic and shines a spotlight on the vital role that arts organisations play in sustaining a thrilling, creative, and connected society, particularly during challenging times.

To reach the shortlist acknowledges and recognises the vital work Friction Arts has carried out within local communities in the city during the pandemic. Helping to bring people together, improve mental health and wellbeing and provide much needed support to artists, performers, and members of local communities during an extraordinary time for the performing arts industry and residents of Birmingham.

Projects reaching out to over 300 people aged from eight to eighty have already taken place including:

– Supported eighteen freelance artists to successfully apply for Arts Council England funding
– Collaborated with twenty artists to create an offline festival Quiet Carnival to test new work which gained new audiences
– Provided safe space for vulnerable members of communities, performers, musicians, elders to utilise outdoor space(s) and stream music, rehearse and meet (once permitted)
– Piloted a ‘directory of creative enquiries’ at food banks to offer bespoke advice and materials to children and families
Supported community member Sarah Kaur, (home-educator) to help grow ‘Culture Club’ an online programme aimed at children not in school using creative approaches for exploration of cultural identity.

Friction Arts has been making art projects, exhibitions, and performances in Birmingham and Internationally for over 25 years. From allotment gardeners in Handsworth to street children in Johannesburg, the company helps people tell untold stories, make the unseen visible and give the unheard a voice in the world.

Co-Directors and Lead Artists of Friction Arts, Sandra Hall and Lee Griffiths commented: “It’s a great privilege to be included in the shortlist for this award. It’s a real testament to the creativity, responsiveness and hard work of our teams of artists, and to the commitment of our participants to our work, in the face of extremely challenging circumstances.”

The award is part of a suite of initiatives being supported by the Foundation in response to the pandemic. Focusing on strengthening the arts and cultural sector to respond to urgent community needs, prioritise relevance, and become more inclusive and impactful.

Tyrone Huggins actor, director, writer and Chair of Friction Arts added: “We’re extremely delighted to be the only organisation in Birmingham to make the shortlist for the very first Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation’s Award for Civic Arts Organisations. If successful we intend to invest in a major city-wide project to help people across the city grieve for the people, opportunities and physical contact we have lost during the pandemic.”

The presentation ceremony takes place on Thursday 11th March. The winner will receive £100,000 and there are two runners-up prizes each worth £25,000. FrictioN Arts will also have its work catalogued in a digital pamphlet that will be released to coincide with the award ceremony in the spring.