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Sheffield writer Desiree gets £10,000 to work on second novel

Sheffield writer Desiree Reynolds
Sheffield writer Desiree Reynolds

A Sheffield writer is one of eight who have successfully applied for the first round of the Arts Council England’s Developing your Creative Practice.

Desiree Reynolds has been awarded £10,000 from the £14.4m fund specifically designed to support independent creative practitioners.

The programme, unlike any other current Arts Council fund, will give these practitioners time to work on ambitious and innovative projects, without the immediate pressure of showing their work publicly.

Recipients will be using the funding to support periods of research, to develop new work and ideas, work internationally, and for training, networking or mentoring.

Artists from Yorkshire include emerging creative writer Desiree Reynolds, based in Sheffield, who will be using the fund to focus on her writing, working towards a second novel about the collapse of a plantation during the Haitian Revolution as well as a collection of short stories.

She said: “My aim is to try and give voice to the silences that go unnoticed.

“With the novel I want to look at the collapse of a plantation system from the people most affected by it, the women. And for the short story collection, part of which will be locating Saartje Baartman in her temporary Manchester home in 1811. What happened there? Who could she have been in that different space?

“I recognise that I’m concerned with these themes and I hope I can do justice to the lives that lived them.”

Other recipients include musician Ben Thomas from Kirklees who will be gaining mentoring from industry professionals and Oliver O’Shea, an emerging theatre director who will be granted the opportunity to shadow leading directors.

Oliver, from York, says: “‘I am delighted to be supported by Arts Council England in my ongoing artistic and professional development as a theatre director. This grant will help me progress to new opportunities and challenges over the coming year.”

Pete Massey, Director North, Arts Council England, said: “Our Developing your Creative Practice fund is helping to unlock the talent from which our world class cultural sector originates. It is providing time for individuals from a range of creative practices and backgrounds to explore and develop – and it’s a very exciting point in the careers of the eight artists from across Yorkshire who we’re supporting through this first round.”

£3.6 million is available annually for four years for Developing your Creative Practice. Applicants can now apply for grants from £2,000 to £10,000 for the second round, the deadline for which will be August 16.