Make It Happen Fund Awardees 2019-2020
Exploring mental health through physical performance, musical workshops for children and a short film that examines the human connection to land and sea ”¦ they’re just a few ways in which Royal Conservatoire of Scotland graduates will harness the power and potential of the performing arts as they take their first steps on their professional paths.
Thirteen emerging artists from Scotland’s national conservatoire have received awards through the Make It Happen Fund, a micro-funding initiative that gives its most recent graduates access to a competitive pot of seed funding to support their career goals and ambitions. It aims to create access to a source of funding that will support graduates’ early stage career development, in a range of areas such as training, networking, testing ideas, starting up companies, staging pop-up events and forming new collaborations.
This year’s awardees received funding shortly before the COVID-19 lockdown. Proposed plans, projects, and performances have all changed radically since then. Despite these challenging times, however, the innovation and the creativity of the Make It Happen Fund awardees shines through.
Professor Jeffrey Sharkey, Principal of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, said: “We live in challenging times where the innovation and creativity of artists can have more value and impact than ever. RCS’s Make It Happen Fund will help our graduates to develop their own projects and voices, on the themes that matter most to them, to benefit others and transform the world around them. Congratulations to our latest Make It Happen Fund recipients we look forward to watching you flourish.”
The Make It Happen Fund 2019/2020 recipients are:
Charlie Stewart (Bachelor of Music Jazz 2018)
Charlie is part of trio Snuffbox which mixes traditional tunes with contemporary original material. Make It Happen funding will be used to finance the band’s first live album. Snuffbox comprises fiddle player Charlie, who was named BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year 2017. Joining him is fellow RCS graduate, cellist Rufus Huggan (BMus Traditional Music 2017) and guitarist Luc McNally, BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year 2018/19 finalist.
Charlie said: “Collaboration and recording often come at great cost, paid for largely by conceding to serious creative limitations. It’s why support from the Make It Happen Fund has provided an extraordinary chance at additional creative freedom as we go ahead. Snuffbox was formed during our respective years at the Royal Conservatoire and showcases a diverse range of styles and repertoires.”
Sinéad Hargan and Anya Bowcott (BA Contemporary Performance Practice 2019)
Through the Make It Happen Fund, Sinead and fellow Contemporary Performance Practice graduate Anya Bowcott (2019) will create a short film that weaves new writing and ecological research with the theatrical backdrop of Scottish landscapes.
Sinéad said: “This award means we are able to take the time and resources we need to really begin our exploration into our human connection with the land and sea in the midst of spiralling ecological devastation. We plan for this creative task to be the beginning of a long-lasting collaborative research practice.”
Rosie McDonald (Bachelor of Music Vocal Studies 2019)
Rosie is a Scottish soprano who has helped to devise and deliver workshops alongside the Scottish Chamber Orchestra for primary and secondary school pupils across Glasgow and Edinburgh. She has also taught music in nursery and primary schools across Glasgow and the north east coast. She is currently a singing teacher in Angus, as well as teaching music in nurseries around Dundee and Angus. Make It Happen funding will support a trial workshop for her new company, ECHO Arts.
Rosie said: “ECHO Arts aims to introduce children to the expressive arts including music, drama, storytelling and movement across Dundee and Angus. ECHO Arts believes that every child should have access to the expressive arts, hence the slogan ‘Every Child Has Opportunities in the Arts’. This project will involve a one-off interactive workshop taking inspiration from Peter and the Wolf and will incorporate different musical genres, composition, movement and storytelling.”
Dan Cox (BA Contemporary Performance Practice 2019) and Ricky Williamson (BA Contemporary Performance Practice 2018)
Dan and Ricky Williamson will develop Young Shorts, a series of playwriting workshops in primary schools culminating in a performance.
Both are passionate about creating theatre with young people who may not find theatre or the arts accessible. They also seek to build confidence and self-esteem within the young people that they work with and in doing so, giving them agency to follow their aspirations, no matter how big. Dan and Ricky aim to use the arts to make a comment on the current social and political landscape and how they as artists, and the young people they work with, exist within it.
Dan said: “As artists who are both incredibly interested in socially engaged practice, specifically working with young people, Make It Happen funding will be hugely beneficial for our project and will allow us, as newly formed collaborators, to begin to understand and develop our shared practice.”
Justyna Krzyzanowska (Master of Music Scottish Music 2019)
Harpist Justyna Krzyzanowska is part of duo Woodlands, which will record its first album, blending Scottish traditional music with classical, pop and Swedish folk music.
Justyna and fiddler Kristina Leesik met as students at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, Sweden. Both were headed to Scotland Justyna for a Masters at RCS and Kristina as an Erasmus student. Almost three years later, what started out as a small kitchen jam has grown into a duo.
Justyna said: “With the help of this award, we will record our first full-length album featuring traditional Scottish, Gaelic and Irish music as well as own compositions influenced by the Celtic, Swedish and jazz traditions. We hope the album to be a launch of our professional careers as well as a way to share newly composed and arranged music.”
Monika MaÅ¡anauskaitÄ— (Bachelor of Music – piano 2018), Michelle Dierx (Bachelor of Music violin 2018) and Shannon Merciel (Master of Music cello 2018)
Trio Doyenne is an international trio comprised of RCS graduates Monika MaÅ¡anauskaitÄ— (piano), Michelle Dierx and Shannon Merciel.
The trio, from Lithuania, Belgium and the US respectively, have performed around the world and funding will allow them to embark on a five-date Scottish tour.
Monika said: “The Make It Happen award is an immense achievement for our trio which will enable us to perform five concerts around Scotland. The performances itself are incredibly important however, we feel that the preparation for the tour will make us grow and take bigger challenges as performing artists.”
Hannah Wright (BA Contemporary Performance Practice 2018)
Hannah is a performance maker and artistic director working in Glasgow and the Netherlands.
Hannah’s latest work, in collaboration with Dutch dance artist Hannah Zwaans, explores cognitive behaviour and mental health through physical exploration and choreographic practices.
Hannah and Zwaans will hold a research and development week to create the start of a new piece of performance that approaches mental health physically and raises awareness of borderline personality disorder (BPD).
Hannah said: “The Make It Happen funding is allowing me to embark on a project to try and better understand BPD and develop my first-ever choreographic piece of work that looks to shed light on an incredibly complex and misunderstood illness. Not only will I have the time and space to create and work with my collaborators, I can also pay them for their time and talents.”
Michael Monroe (BA Acting 2019)
Bonesaw Superior is a new play by BA Acting graduate Michael Monroe, who will use the Make It Happen funding for a week of development, followed by a public reading. RCS acting students will be involved throughout the process.
Michael said: “Make It Happen funding will allow me to take further steps towards the realisation of my new play. It will facilitate development, presentation and artistic collaboration in ways that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.”
Sanjay Lago (BA Contemporary Performance Practice 2019)
Actor and theatremaker Sanjay will develop Ask Me If I’m Okay, an autobiographical piece of theatre exploring themes of male suicide, masculinity and mental health in South Asian communities.
Sanjay creates work that is mainly autobiographical, movement or text based. He will collaborate on Ask Me If I’m Okay with RCS alumni Kenny Dunlop (Bachelor of Music Accordion, 2019) and Jonathan Pinto (current Master of Music Performance student).
Sanjay said: “I am beyond happy to receive this award to develop my show. I would never have been able to develop this show on my own, and this is why it is so important to have such great graduate creative funds like Make It Happen. It gives graduates a positive message that money shouldn’t be a barrier and that support is there. Now the next step begins in bringing this piece to another level.”
Michael Wallace (BA Acting 2019)
Visiting Cezanne is an international collaboration between Michael Wallace, fellow BA Acting graduate Paula Nugent (2018) and American writer and producer Duane Kelly, which will be performed at the 2021 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Michael and Paul are both inspired by the range of international pedagogies and languages their education was informed by and the opportunities for collaboration that it provided.
Michael said: “The Make It Happen funding means a great amount to me as it further confirms my belief that RCS is an institution that wants to help students well beyond their time spent there. The ability to gain feedback and support from the school almost two years after graduating is incredibly helpful and makes the transition into the industry that little bit less daunting.”
Harry Gorski Brown (Bachelor of Music Violin and Composition 2019)
I.Been a bad boy:-cut me loose is a multimedia piece for instrumental performers, speakers and video which was due to be performed at the Royal Conservatoire’s annual PLUG festival this month.
The piece is written for performers with instruments, preparations, webcams and laptop, whilst working with visual projection and a multichannel speaker set-up.
Harry said: “Unfortunately, due to Covid-19, the gig has been postponed but the expectation is that the performance will still happen when possible. With help from the Make It Happen Fund, I was able to purchase the necessary equipment for this project’s development, which included the software Max and a family of webcams, all of whom have been with me throughout the lockdown and have brought me great comfort.”
Callum Cronin (Bachelor of Music Double Bass 2019)
Callum’s business SlÃ inte Sounds acts as a platform to promote Scottish tradition and culture in the music industry. From music for events to international touring, Callum hopes to shine a spotlight on what Scotland has to offer.
Elise Haller-Shannon (Master of Arts in Music Composition 2018)
Elise is one-third of Mellon Charles along with Matt Zurowski (Bachelor of Music Composition, 2015) James Elliott Dixon a nomadic sound system which can be found in the north of Scotland responding to questions of land reform, ecology and rave culture through site-specific musical performances. They are currently preparing for a performance at Sonica in November.