WATCH: The Unity Theatre Open Call Programme is back and needs your support
3 weeks ago
Unity Theatre is appealing for support to help keep its Open Call programme going, giving life-changing opportunities to local artists.
The programme by Unity Theatre has provided almost £80,000 worth of financial backing to 44 different Liverpool artists and companies over the past two years.
Lots of them have gone on to tour, making sure Liverpool voices and experiences are heard nationally and internationally.
Through Open Call, artists receive up to £1500 each, a featured slot in Unity’s programme and mentoring and resources so they can grow their career and share incredible Liverpool talent with the rest of the UK and around the world.
Ideas which have become reality include not only shows performed on Unity stages, but digital installations, online productions, outdoor events, puppetry parades with refugee communities, workshops and performances in schools and care homes, interactive storytelling with Alder Hey Hospital, hip hop dance classes, monthly family arts workshops and a cabaret celebrating Liverpool’s Asian community.
But because of rising costs and reduced funding, the theatre can’t keep the programme going alone – extra help is needed to survive.
Unity has launched a Crowdfunder appeal to raise £10,000 so it can carry on supporting artists directly.
Every donation will mean that more Merseyside talent receives a guaranteed income of up to £1250, practical support to develop and test out ideas and a place in the theatre’s autumn 2023 season.
Everyone taking part also receives a free professional recording of their work which Unity will share with industry contacts so they will be able to carry on making money after the Open Call has ended.
And it’s not just artists who benefit – audiences get to see the amazing results of their work too.
Gordon Millar, artistic director and CEO of the Unity, says Open Call allows the theatre to carry on Liverpool’s proud tradition of offering a chance to creative people who might otherwise miss out.
“This funding is like handing a rod to someone who’s fishing, it gives them the opportunity to make the most of their talent which can then springboard them to other stages in the city region and also around the country,” he says.
“About 80% have gone on to create other work or to tour that work elsewhere over the last two years so we’re providing people with strong stepping stones into careers, or to continue their careers, and without this support that wouldn’t happen.
“Taking Liverpool’s voice outside the city is really key for us, we want to share our stories so people can see not just the great talent we have, but what’s important to us and our perspective on things.”
One company, Flood, has just been accepted by the prestigious National Student Theatre Festival which was a launchpad for the careers of Stephen Fry, Mark Gatiss, Ben Elton and writers John Godber and Caryl Churchill among many others.
Gordon hopes supporters will see how much good Open Call does for those creating and those enjoying.
“Together, we can transform the careers of even more of Merseyside’s most talented, innovative artists and keep our city’s creative scene alive.”