Yinka Shonibare Lends His Support to New Awards And Advocacy Set Up In Response to Brexit

Turner Prize-winning artist Yinka Shonibare, MBE RA, has lent his support to the recently created Emerge Awards, a UK-wide, open competition that champions emerging talent and diversity in the creative industries.  

Guy Armitage, the CEO of Zealous, a London-based digital submissions platform for the creative community, set up the awards in response to the changing nature of Britain’s relationship with Europe.

Their ultimate aim is to promote and safeguard the interests of the talent engaged in all of the creative industries, and then for the organisation behind them to serve as an advocacy group, supporting national bodies such as the Creative Industries Federation.

Shonibare, 55, will judge the art award, along with Kathleen Soriano, chair of the Liverpool Biennial, Mark Cass is Founder and CEO of leading art supplies retailer, Cass Art and Chairman of the Cass Sculpture Foundation, and Cherie Federico, the Director/Editor in Chief of the art magazine Aesthetica.

Says Armitage: ‘We are incredibly privileged to welcome Yinka to our panel of judges for the Emerge Awards. His stunning works, which have graced London’s fourth plinth and been nominated for the Turner prize; have challenged our understanding of our identities and culture at a key moment in time. Yinka is an inspiration, and to have him cast his eye on the next generation of talent is an incredible honour.’

The awards are in 12 categories – Architecture, Art, Craft, Writing, Design, Digital Art, Fashion, Film, Gaming, Music, Performance, Photography – with each carrying a £1,000 cash prize.

The judges, who have been selected to judge in their specific fields, include: Mark Cass(Founder & CEO, Cass Arts); James Lingwood (Co-Director, Artangel); Bridgitte Stepputtis (Head of Couture at Vivienne Westwood); Jane Beese (Head of Music, Roundhouse); Peter Higgins (Director of Enrichment, Punchdrunk); Brett Rogers OBE (Director of The Photographers’ Gallery); Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE (Founder & Director of the Chineke! Foundation); Craig Hassall (Chief Executive, Royal Albert Hall), and Will Alsop OBE (Stirling Prize-winning Architect, aLL Design).

The shortlists will be announced on 30 March, and the finalists – three in each category – on 18 April. The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony in central London, to be held in May 2018 (date tbc).

Emerge is actively selecting its judging panels to best reflect gender and BAME diversity within the UK, so as to encourage a balanced set of winners in each category and generate the opportunity for dialogue around such issues.

Adds Armitage: The UK’s creative economy currently employs one out of 11 people, contributing £160,000 a minute to its GDP, a figure that has grown year on year for the last decade. It is a key pillar to our country’s future economic prosperity, and it is vital that it flourishes beyond Brexit.’

Armitage adds: ‘Our hope is that Emerge will help this happen. In addition to holding annual awards to celebrate talent, we want to provide the UK’s creative industries with a strong, unified voice in an economic climate that’s rapidly changing. Ultimately Emerge is seeking to remind our decision makers (and the world) that the UK’s creative talent is best in class, worth supporting and open for business.’