Sky Arts Ignition: Futures Fund – The Judging

Sky Arts Ignition: Futures Fund – The Judging

By NellFrizzellIdeasTap 10/11/11

This week IdeasTap towers was visited by some of the UK’s most exciting arts professionals – including Jo Whiley and Rupert Goold – to judge the life-changing Sky Arts Ignition: Future’s Fund. Find out what happened…

“Me, @jowhiley and Rupert Goold are judges for @skyarts &@IdeasTap giving two artists £30,000! Plan is: Cowell face, Cole hair, Rowland tears.”

So tweeted IdeasTap superstar Sabrina Mahfouz as she made her way to the IdeasTap office in Bermondsey to act as one of the judges for the incredible Sky Arts Ignition: Futures Fund.

“So that makes me Louis?” replied radio legend and Sky Arts presenter Jo Whiley. The scene, as they say, had been set.

Arts Commissioning Editor for The Times and judge Nancy Durrant


Over the course of the day the six shortlisted artists – William Kundhardt, Jack Lowe, Daisy Evans, Phoebe Boswell, Julia Vogl, Ania Leszczynska – came to the IdeasTap boardroom to pitch their project, in person, to the panel of judges.

Channel Director for Sky Arts and judge James Hunt

The judges were Radio and TV presenter Jo Whiley; theatre director and Artistic Director of Headlong Theatre Company, Rupert Goold; Arts Commissioning Editor for The Times, Nancy Durrant; Channel Director for Sky Arts, James Hunt; Director of The Bigger Picture at Sky (Responsible for Sky’s Corporate Social Responsibility including investment in Arts, Sport and Environment), Jo Fox; and poet and writer, IdeasTap member and previous IdeasTap fund winner Sabrina Mahfouz.

Shortlisted artists William Kundgardt (left) and Jack Lowe (right)

First up was conductor William Kundhardt with his music project, The Vienna Revolutionaries.

William was then followed by theatre director Jack Lowe who, using a rather splendid mood box, pitched a devised piece called After the Rainfall. 

The final pitch of the morning came from opera director and Coming Up alumnus Daisy Evans and her project for a Silent Opera.

Shortlisted artists Daisy Evans (left) and Julia Vogl (right)

Proceedings then broke for lunch. Over lunch the judges discussed everything from late night television to the best country pubs in Buckinghamshire, over soup, sandwiches, salads and a rather fine selection of cakes, courtesy of IdeasTap’s splendid kitchen.

Refuelled and refreshed, the judges then headed back into the boardroom for the next three pitches.

Sky judges Jo Fox (left) Jo Whiley (centre) and Senior Arts Executive Freya Murray (right)

First up after lunch was visual artist Phoebe Boswell, who pitched a multimedia installation based on her parents’ story behind her dual heritage.

Next up was artist Julia Vogl with her public project Home: an mp3-embedded community-built, multicoloured brick pavilion. Read more about Julia’s project here.

Shorlisted artists Phoebe Boswell (left) and Ania Leszcynska (right)

The final pitch of the day came from the animator Ania Leszczynska, who pitched a silent animation about a boy and his robot dog.

Once all the shortlisted artists had made their pitch it was time for the judges to discuss, deliberate and decide. The gravitas of the task wasn’t lost on anyone, with Rupert Goold remarking that, “£30,00 would have changed my life at that point in my career.”

Theatre director and judge Rupert Goold

The judges were looking for a well-thought-through, innovative, achievable and exciting idea. Projects were praised for their uniqueness, for their element of risk, for the confidence and ambition of the artists themselves and the scope of the ideas.

Judge Sabrina Mahfouz (centre) with Assistant Editor Nell Frizzell (left) and IdeasTap Partnership Director Amanda White (right)

Of course it was tough to pick two winners, and the debate was as specific and exacting as you would imagine. As Sabrina put it, “When I got those rejection letters saying ‘The judges had a very hard time deciding’ I know now that it’s true. It is hard.”.

The winners will be announced in the coming weeks. Watch this space...

SAVE THE DATE for Sky Arts Futures Fund Seminars with IdeasTap.

London: 23 November at Sadler’s Wells – 2pm to 5pm. Speaker: Olivier-award winning theatre director and Futures Fund judge Rupert Goold.

Edinburgh: 25 November at Creative Scotland – 2pm to 5pm.

Manchester: 7 December, Manchester Art Gallery – 2pm to 5pm.

Dublin: 14 December, The Science Gallery – 2pm to 5pm.


Bookings for the London and Edinburgh seminars will open on 18th November. Places are free and offered first come first served.

Rupert Goold is the guest speaker for the London event. Camille OSullivan has been confirmed for Dublin and over the next week we’ll be confirming guest speakers for Edinburgh and Manchester.



Closing Update

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