New bursaries for two Sunderland-based artists
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Sunderland Culture has given Steph Robson, an emerging spoken word artist and Brent Marriner, a dancer, New Encounters bursaries. The scheme was launched in 2021 to help artists from diverse or disabled communities realise their cultural ambitions.
The artists are given bursaries and a mentor to help them gain experience in their chosen art forms.
Steph, who has dwarfism, plans to use the bursary to work on a new spoken word piece about her lived experience.
Originally from Teesside, Steph is an MA Radio graduate from University of Sunderland who writes the Hello Little Lady blog and was the photographer behind the You’re Just Little exhibition of pictures, taken from her height perspective.
She will be mentored by writer and poet Kirsten Luckens, and is considering a public performance of her piece once it is finished.
Steph said: “The piece won’t really about educating people, it will be about my own experiences and those of the dwarfism community.
“I like to add elements of humour to my writing, so it won’t be all serious, but I want to look at how society sees us. Too often we’re described as inspirational or victims, but we have no real voice in that narrative and that’s what I want to bring out.”
“The bursary gives me another opportunity to raise the profile of the community and the challenges we face. It’s also about giving others in our community the confidence to find their voice.”
Brent, who has Down’s Syndrome, has been dancing for about 15 years and will work with mentor Connor Gribben on a breakdancing piece.
Brent, enjoys several forms of dance including breakdancing, modern, contemporary, ballet and street dancing.
He said: “I really enjoy dancing it makes me feel happy and gives me confidence, although before I perform I can feel nervous.” Brent also attends The Twisting Ducks theatre company at Arts Centre Washington.
Helen Green, head of performance at Sunderland Culture, said: “We want to nurture artists from all of Sunderland’s diverse communities, and our New Encounters bursary scheme helps us do that through supporting brilliant people like Steph and Brent.”