Black Led Theatre And Arts Organisation Lyrici Arts Awarded Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation Status

Black led theatre and arts organisation Lyrici Arts have been awarded National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) status by Arts Council England for Kent 2023-2026.

National Portfolio Organisations are leaders in their areas, with a collective responsibility to protect and develop our national arts and cultural ecology. Based in Medway, Kent, Lyrici Arts will use their status to bring change to Medway and Kent to champion difference, so that it is a place where Black and diverse led arts are flourishing with every resident able to embrace and feel empowered by culture.

Over the next three years they wish to see Medway as a place where their fast-growing, diverse audiences can see nationally-recognised work on their doorstep. A place where Black and diverse audiences are represented via the arts which are programmed and Black and diverse artists have opportunities to make work. During 2023-26 they will work with the Medway community and their confirmed partners in Medway and Kent Library Services and Councils, community organisations, their area Creative People Places NPO organisation Ideas Test and national arts organisation including Eclipse, Tangled Feet, Doorstep Arts and Unlimited, to deliver across all 3 outcomes of Let’s Create.

Photography by Alison Lewis Photography

They will:

  • Bring high-quality Black theatre to Medway, enabling diverse arts to take centre-stage
  • Tell our own stories by creating celebratory Black lyrical works
  • Support Medway-based Black & diverse artists 
  • Improve Medway residents’ mental health & well-being via our community programmes
  • Further Medway’s regeneration process & support the Priority Place plan
  • Document best practice & share learning

The organisation was founded by and is run by sisters Clara and Keely Augustus, life long lovers of the arts and passionate about seeing people represented on the stage and in spaces around them – something they felt was lacking when they grew up.

Clara, Co-Artistic Director says:

We are delighted, and grateful to have been chosen as a National Portfolio organisation by Arts Council England for 2023 – 2026. We are really looking forward to creating and bringing exciting new work into our local area, whilst building on the legacy of our work from the past six years. Thank you to all of our supporters over the years.

Keely, Co-Artistic Director says:

We are delighted to be a South East recipient of Arts Council England’s 2023-26 National Portfolio. We founded Lyrici Arts in 2016 to give Black and diverse lyrical artists a dedicated platform in Medway and Kent, and the last six years has been a delight. Over time we have worked with national and regional partners to tour Black and diverse theatre into the area, to create live and digital programmes featuring industry Black and diverse leaders and to open up more opportunities for Medway residents to get involved and see themselves reflected. We believe strongly in breaking down barriers and challenging inequalities that prevent people from participating in art that represents them, speaks with them, and involves them. We’re so excited about the next chapter of our journey and thankful to all of the funders, partners, communities and audiences that have continued to support our vision.

Most recently Lyrici Arts supported Medway based Black heritage artists to come together to create and tour a show exploring what home, identity and culture means to them, as part of a new production from Black theatre company, Lyrici Arts. The 2022 HOMEWARD Artist Academy and shows focused on Soul Food – a reference for Black heritage food dishes passed down through generations, such as curry goat, fried dumplings, ackee and saltfish. Food might underpin so much of our culture, but other elements feed the soul, and participants explored aspirations, culture, identity, music, family and more.

They were part of the Collaborative Touring Network (2016-22), a collective of eight national producing teams from areas of lower cultural investment who are diversifying the way performance is made, seen and toured.

National Portfolio Organisations are required to provide business plans. Arts Council England work closely with them on monitoring and evaluation, to ensure they are meeting their objectives and to measure impact and see how well intentions for the work aligns with the perceptions of public and peers.

The portfolio is key in helping Arts Council England to achieve their 2020-30 Strategy, Let’s Create, a strategy committed to creating a country where every one of us has access to a remarkable range of high-quality cultural experiences.

Written by: Francesca Baker 

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