Fierce Lab is our programme which specifically focuses on access to the festival for artists who identify African Diaspora people, South, East, and South East Asian diaspora people, Middle East and North African people. Artists who are ethnically diverse, and who experience racism.
Our inaugural Fierce Lab took place in 2019, funded by Diverse Actions, enabling us to invite a group of artists to attend the festival as part of the Fierce Lab cohort. Fierce LAB artists receive free tickets to all festival events they wish to attend, free access to workshops, as well as having travel, accommodation and daily per diems covered.
In consultation with the Diverse Actions team, and in response to many conversations with artists recently around the labour of application processes and direct competition with peers, we are piloted a different approach. We asked eight artists who identify African Diaspora people, South, East, and South East Asian diaspora people, Middle East and North African people, artists who are ethnically diverse, and who experience racism, whom we have deep working relationships with, and who have a strong understanding of Fierce, to personally nominate artists for the LAB programme. We asked them to consider the following things when they decided their nominations:
- Artists who have not previously heavily engaged with Fierce (i.e. never been through our commissioning programmes, artist development programmes, or attended more than 3 editions of the festival)
- Artists who are at a stage in their career which means this opportunity has the potential to deeply impact their practice and growth as an artist.
- Working in one of the following art forms; live art, experimental theatre, experimental dance, contemporary performance, performance art, experimental cabaret, art activism, social engaged practice, club performance, performance installation.
The LAB 2019 cohort was hosted throughout the week by LAB Host Suriya Aisha. Suriya was part of our artist development programme Fierce FWD in 2017, / 18 during that edition of the festival show, which hosted closed meet-ups for various identifying artists.
LAB artists are not required to deliver any outputs, and are asked to engage with the festival on their own terms, designing their own schedule of activity. Lab artists are not publicly announced, although of course are welcome to share they are part of the cohort publicly if they wish.
2019 Fierce Lab feedback was overwhelmingly positive, and we continue to seek appropriate funding to run the programme at future festivals, as the previous cohort to nominate names for upcoming cohorts.