Curve, The Lowry and Bristol Old Vic Ferment lead the way with new programme for Artists of Colour

5 Sep 2018

Three of the UK’s leading theatres have joined forces to create the Naseem Khan Commissions, an ambitious new initiative to support artists of colour.

The theatres, Leicester’s Curve, The Lowry in Salford and Bristol Old Vic Ferment, are looking for three ethnically diverse artists or companies to apply for the programme, which will support the creation and touring of brand new work.

Named after cultural activist and journalist Naseem Khan who passed away last year, the commissions programme will give artists £2,000 worth of funding each, 18 months of support, rehearsal space and programmed slots for the presentation of work across the partner network of theatres.

Speaking about the programme, Naseem Khan’s daughter Amelia Torode said:

“Theatre mattered enormously to Naseem because she understood the transformative power of shared storytelling and collective experiences. Stories reflect and shape cultural identity and in these times of change, it’s vital that new storytellers emerge and flourish. This award does exactly that. We can’t wait to see what new talent is unlocked.”

Curve’s Chief Executive Chris Stafford and Artistic Director Nikolai Foster said:

“We are pleased to be launching this new programme with our partners at The Lowry and Bristol Old Vic Ferment. At Curve, we are clear that the work on our stages should reflect the diversity of our communities. This has always been part of Curve’s DNA and we are excited to be partnering with colleagues in Salford and Bristol on this scheme.
We’re proud this programme is named after Naseem Khan, whose ground-breaking report - The Arts Britain Ignores & Diversity in British Theatre – inspired our diversity conference in 2016. We were honoured Naseem visited Curve to deliver the opening address and it is fitting her legacy should live on with this programme.”

Anthony Gray, Senior Producer: Artist Development at The Lowry commented:

“The Lowry is passionate about raising the profile of ethnically diverse work and we have had the privilege of working with some incredible artists of colour as part of our Developed With The Lowry programme over the years. These have included Dr Tuheen Huda in 2014, Chanje Kunda in 2017, Rachel Young in 2018 and most recently Dickson Mbi.
Partnering with Curve and Bristol Old Vic Ferment is a fantastic opportunity to be able to provide a nationwide network that supports the presentation of this work across the UK. I personally am extremely excited to see where this project leads and help support and champion these artists.”

Ben Atterbury at Bristol Old Vic Ferment said:

“It’s brilliant to be launching the Naseem Khan Commissions alongside our partners at the Lowry and Leicester Curve. By joining together, we hope to give our commissioned artists the support and opportunity to grow, complete with a bespoke development plan that follows their next 18 months and is built around their ideas. It’s important that we continue to try and redress the inequalities in our industry, and we’re delighted to be part of an initiative that specifically looks to support outstanding BAME artists to make the work they want to make, holding them up to the light all around the country.”

The deadline to apply for the Naseem Khan Commissions is 28 September at 10am, with interviews taking place in Leicester at Curve on 19 October.

Artists looking to apply can send a completed application form, together with a CV/biography and a max. 500-word statement on the show they would like to use this support to make; or alternatively a YouTube/Vimeo link to a 2-minute video on the same theme.

All applications must be sent to

For further information, please contact:

CURVE REGIONAL: Fiona Moore on 0116 242 3916 /
CURVE NATIONAL: Julie Holman, Target-Live, on 020 7052 1303 /


Celebrating its 10th birthday this year, almost one million people annually engage with Curve through performances and projects at our home in Leicester, across the UK and internationally. Under the leadership of Chief Executive Chris Stafford and Artistic Director Nikolai Foster, Curve has developed a reputation for producing, programming and touring a bold and diverse programme of musicals, plays, new work, dance and opera. All of this presented alongside a dynamic mix of community engagement, artist development and learning programmes, which firmly places audiences, artists and communities at the heart of everything we do.   

Recent Made at Curve productions include the Curve Young Company and Community production of Joseph Stein’s Fiddler on the Roof, the world première production of An Officer and a Gentleman (& on national tour), Leslie Bricusse's Scrooge, the world première of Amana Fontanella Khan’s Pink Sari Revolution, adapted by Purva Naresh (with Belgrade Theatre Coventry, English Touring Theatre and West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds); a major revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard (& UK tour), Winner - Best Musical, Manchester Theatre Awards and  Best Regional Production, WhatsOnStage Awards; the world premiere of Ravi Shankar’s opera Sukanya (co-produced with the Royal Opera House & London Philharmonic Orchestra); the 50th anniversary production of Joe Orton’s What the Butler Saw (with Theatre Royal Bath); Jim Jacobs & Warren Casey’s Grease (also in Dubai) and a production of Roald Dahl’s George’s Marvellous Medicine, adapted by David Wood (co-produced with Rose Theatre Kingston & on tour).

The Lowry

The Lowry is the most visited cultural venue in Greater Manchester housing two galleries, three theatres, and bar & restaurant Pier Eight. As one of the UK’s leading arts organisations The Lowry commissions and presents an vast range of work throughout the year including dance, drama, musicals, circus, opera, music, comedy and family. Named after the painter LS Lowry, the building is home to the world’s largest collection of his works and has a dedicated gallery. The second gallery presents exciting new exhibitions from contemporary artists.

The Lowry’s Artist Development programme has supported artist development since 2009 working with artists and companies such as Lung Theatre, Kill the Beast, Rachael Young and Theatre ad Infinitum. The programme forms a structured pathway that supports theatre makers from their first steps in the industry through to creating award-winning productions for the mid-scale.

There are two main strands of The Lowry’s artist development programme Developed With The Lowry, a 12-month bespoke package of financial, practical, creative and professional development support and Associate Artists, a long term relationships where the artist/ company receives core funding, commissioning opportunities and highly specialised bespoke support as they establish themselves on the national stage.

Bristol Old Vic is the longest continuously running theatre in the UK, and celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2016. The historic playhouse aims to inspire audiences with its own original productions, both at home and on tour, whilst nurturing the next generation of artists, whether that be through their 350-strong Young Company, their many outreach and education projects or their trailblazing artist development programme, Bristol Ferment.

They use their funding to support experiment and innovation, to allow access to their programme for people who would not otherwise encounter it, or be able to afford it, and to keep their extraordinary heritage alive and animated.

On 24 Sep 2018, Bristol Old Vic completed its 2-year multi-million pound redevelopment project, which transformed its front of house space into a warm and welcoming public building for all of Bristol to enjoy, created a new studio theatre and opened up its unique theatrical heritage to the public for the first time.

Press Office: 0117 949 4901 |