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Creative Debuts: The Platform Making Art More Accessible To All



In 2021, it’s no secret that entering the art and creative industries can be a gruelling process filled with trial and error. Many undiscovered creatives encounter numerous setbacks and hurdles on their journey to success - too often as a result of their lack of access to resources and networks.


Creative Debuts was born out of frustration at the limited support that many aspiring artists, including its founder Calum Hall, experience at the start of their careers. Launched in 2014, the platform works with budding artists from different backgrounds – providing them with a platform for buying and selling. Their priority is to celebrate undiscovered artists by making their work more accessible – assisting them in the development of their careers.



Those at Creative Debuts are passionate about connecting artists to businesses, so much so that they provide several services to help in doing so: including event management, the commissioning of bespoke pieces and their Artwork Subscription Service – in which they install diverse art pieces across various business spaces. In the past, the platform has worked on projects for companies such as O2 and The Wimbledon Foundation, while they have collaborated with brands like Adidas Originals to transform flagship stores in the UK and Europe into creative hubs that feature local talent. All these accomplishments have caught the attention of platforms such as Forbes, who recently named Calum Hall as one of the 30 Under 30 in the arts and Culture industries in Europe.


In 2020, the world witnessed the murder of George Floyd and the resulting Black Lives Matter protests that took place globally. The widespread pleas for racial justice and equality trickled down into the workplace, and further into the creative industries – with many holding companies and institutions accountable.


Challenging the structures and norms of several industries, famous campaigns such as Pull Up Or Shut Up have encouraged companies to disclose their demographics and their number of Black employees. During this time, many companies have demonstrated that they have much work to do – with promises to focus specifically on improving their inclusivity and diversity from the inside out.


In the art world, recent events have called for a time to reflect on diversity within the industry. According to Creative Debuts, Black artists are systemically under-represented in most areas of art. They recognise that this inequality exists across different sectors of the industry, including amongst artists, audiences and within educational institutions. This alarming racial disparity has driven Creative Debuts to provide financial support for underrepresented artists.


The Black Artists Grant


The Black Artists Grant, also known as BAG, is a monthly grant handed out to Black creatives in the UK. Launched in 2020 by Creative Debuts and with no strings attached, recipients of the grant receive £500 each to spend on whatever they please. Depending on what they choose, the money can go towards equipment and research – or can be spent on travel, leisure activities or general living expenses.


Currently, Creative Debuts are partnering with New Wave to source their latest recipients. The New Wave platform will be accepting applications throughout August and September, selecting three deserving creatives a month to receive financial support. Last month, New Wave awarded the Black Artists Grant to Gloria Iyare, Nigerian designer and the founder of brand G.L.L.L.O – a fashion brand specialising in leather bags and accessories.


The July grant was also awarded to Kialy Tihngang, an interdisciplinary designer based in Glasgow, looking to develop her degree project, ‘Useless Machines’ into costumes. New Wave further selected Anyebe Godwin Anteyi, an actor and writer from South East London. Anteyi is currently developing ‘Bad Blood’ – a play that shines a light on life with Sickle Cell.


“This grant has been set up because black artists are systematically under-supported by the art world; by institutions, curators, the artist-led scene, major and minor funding bodies, the market, art schools, and by audiences too. We recognise that a full institutional overhaul and dismantling of racist structures is required to transform the industry permanently, but we hope in a small way that this grant will help enable recipients to continue their artistic practice when the odds are so stacked against them.”



Creative Debuts is also working with Foot Locker to launch €15,000 worth of grants to empower young creators across Europe. The Young Creators Grant, which launched on the 5th August, encourages creatives aged between 16-29 years to submit creative work surrounding sneakers and sneaker youth culture. Closing on the 29th August, 30 talented recipients will be chosen by a panel of judges to receive €500 to help kickstart their careers.


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