|2 Dec 2020
The Emerging Talent Awards were the subject of a lively and informed debate by the AAG (Alumnae Advisory Group), who met last week to judge an impressive selection of applications and decided, in this most exceptional of years, to give special consideration to those whose lives had been particularly impacted by the pandemic.
Our first winner is theatre maker and performance artist Antonia Beck (LEH 1996-2003), who is developing a new contemporary piece of theatre, exploring the themes of life, death, community and ritual, through storytelling, writing, theatre and music. She says: “I’m delighted to receive an Emerging Talent Award, and I’m really excited by the opportunity to further develop my artistic practice.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the arts sector, and like many theatre makers and performance artists, I’m now having to review how I continue to make work at this time. I’m planning to use this opportunity to invest in my skills as a writer which will inform the development of my next project called ‘The Long Barrow’.”
Our second winner is composer Kate Marlais (LEH 1995-2002), who has been the resident composer at the Lyric Hammersmith and is an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music. Most of her work this year, including a film project she was about to embark on, has been cancelled due to COVID-19, so she has decided to record her first album, rather than relying on ‘live’ work.
Kate says: “Thank you so much to LEH and the Alumnae Advisory Group for selecting me as recipient of the Emerging Talent Award 2020. I am absolutely over the moon. The award will provide me with an invaluable opportunity at this stage in my composing and writing career, as the funding will support the continuation of my album recording, allowing me to keep on creating and exploring work that is exciting, bold and true to me as an artist.
“My time at LEH helped forged the path that I am on now, thanks to their unwavering support for the arts, with special thanks to the wonderful Music Department, who were a constant inspiration for me. Being encouraged to develop my artistic skills truly brought me out of my shell, and opened my eyes to a world of vocational possibilities that lay ahead.”
The third winner Dr Gayatri Saxena (LEH 2004-2011) was one of the medics featured in our Alumnae Making a Difference coverage during the first lockdown. She has now moved from her role at St Thomas’ Hospital to an education fellowship, designing training for medical students. Her application outlined four initiatives she’d like to develop aimed at mitigating the effect the pandemic has had training for medical students and junior doctors.
She says: “It’s just awesome that LEH supports alumnae with this award and I’m thrilled to be a recipient. It will advance my pursuit of effective and sustainable ways to deliver high quality medical education in a climate where COVID-related restrictions are projected to endure for a number of years, but the demand for skilful healthcare professional only increases.”
This year’s fourth and final winner is clothes designer and entrepreneur Priya Velusami (LEH 1990-1997). She has recently launched her own business, called Pri Pri, selling colourful accessories and kids wear made from upcycled saris. She has been sewing since her grandmother taught her how to use a sewing machine at the age of 10. Her first business venture was turning sacks of rice into pencil cases to raise money for the school charity. And her interest in upcycling and saving waste material from going to landfill was a key part of her textiles GCSE with Mrs Parkin.
Priya says: “Wow, thank you LEH for this award to invest in my new kids wear business Pri Pri. The funds will help me to launch new products in the range, and to create my own website – something I’ve been keen to do for a long time.”
We wish all four of our very worthy winners the best of luck with their varied and impressive endeavours and we look forward to hearing how they turned out when they file their reports at the beginning of autumn next year.
The Emerging Talent Award exists to extend LEH’s support and encouragement of students, beyond the classrooms, to encompass our entire community of remarkable alumnae. They have been running for 12 years now. The AAG is able to offer modest grants, of up to £1,000, to an alumna who has a talent in any field or is at any stage of their career. They can be embarking on a new project, undertaking further professional training, looking to fund a placement or perhaps be a business woman or fledgling entrepreneur who needs a helping hand.
Applications for the Emerging Talent Awards 2021 will open in September. Details will be announced nearer the time here.