Image by Paul Blakemore

Farnham Maltings has recently announced the recipients for this year’s no strings attached scheme. no strings attached is a scheme which provides emerging artists in the South East the chance to create their first performance. Recipients receive a grant between £500- £1000, as well as mentoring for their project. Farnham Maltings said they wanted a scheme with the simplest application process and with the least requirements, putting faith in young theatre makers in the South East.

Since it started six years ago it has funded 44 unique groups including companies such as non zero one. Non zero one have gone on to be a part of the Barbican’s Spring Brite programme and the National Theatre’s Inside Out Festival. This year the recipients range from a multi-sensory piece for young people with disabilities to a physical theatre piece set in a tent!

Julia Clague, who is the Theatre Administrator at Farnham Maltings and the direct contact for the scheme speaks highly of it: “It’s great to hear the ideas from people. Some ideas are really creative, imaginative and unique. It’s really exciting when you are hearing them over the phone and then you hear them in person and they articulate their idea so well. Their passion for theatre and art just comes across which is really great to see.”

Holly&Ted are one of seven recipients this year. They are an emerging contemporary theatre duo, who are creating an adaptation of The Little Mermaid which looks at the manufacture pop-stars of the 90s. “We started working together at university, and while we were at university we worked on fairytales a lot. That was our main source of inspiration. We knew we wanted to continue with the fairytale theme, but wanted to find a way that it could speak to a modern audience, find a message that we could put behind it and just find ways of reinventing it really!”, says Ted Lamb.

Upon graduation the pair looked for help at Improbable’s Mentoring Fete. “We went round and met lots of different arts organisations. We’d been graduated for two months at that point , so we went round asking how do you make work as a new company with no money?”, continues Lamb. This was where they met Farnham Maltings, who explained about the scheme and how it could help them.

“We got it when we were quite far along in the performance process, we already had our first run booked in. So, we’ve used a lot of the grant to pay for props for the show, a costume designer, a photographer for professional photos. Basically we’ve been putting it towards that first run to make it look more professional, so that we have something for people to come and watch which is not half finished!”, describes Holly Norrington. ‘We’ve also been assigned a mentor, Katy Snelling. Who is a programmer at Oxford Playhouse (which is the area we are based in) and we get advice from her. We’ve got a meeting booked in January, so we are quite excited about that!’

Even just the name recognition has been a huge help to the duo when approaching other companies and venues. “To be able to say these people believe in us enough to give us money has been really useful! We’re in discussions to have a London run of the show, which I honestly don’t think would have happened had we not had this funding. It’s a validation from an official body, not just us saying we are really good!”, Lamb explains.

This year no strings attached partnered with Unlimited Impact. Fiona Slater, who is Programme Coordinator at Shape Arts and co-produced the charity says: “Unlimited Impact supports organisations and venues across the UK to celebrate the work of disabled artists. It is about three things; expanding our networks, deepening the debate and engaging the next generation of disabled young people.Through our partnership with Farnham Maltings on the no strings attached scheme we are able to work towards all three of these aims. We were overjoyed to see three out of the seven grants awarded went to disabled young people whose proposals promise exciting new work which should mark a first step into, what we hope will be a long career in the arts.” Clague explains, “We are now engaging with that community and those organisations. It’s helped get us engaged with people with disabilities and to work with them.”

It’s clear that no strings attached is fantastic at supporting young artists in creating new and innovative work. The partnership with Unlimited Impact is great boost to allow them to support work which is accessible to all. No doubt we will see many more exciting companies grow from this scheme.

To find out more about no strings attached visit their website.