Birmingham-based Friction Arts has been shortlisted for the first Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (UK Branch) Award for Civic Arts Organisations.

The award, which is presented in partnership with King’s College London, ‘highlights and celebrates civic arts organisations and their response to the pandemic’. At the same time, it ‘shines a spotlight on the vital role that arts organisations play in sustaining a thrilling, creative and connected society, particularly during challenging times.’

Friction Arts has been acknowledged for the work it's carried out within local communities in Birmingham during the pandemicThis includes helping to bring people together, improve mental health & wellbeing and provide much-needed support to artists, performers and members of local communities.

The organisation's projects have reached over 300 people aged from eight to 80. The projects include:

  • Giving support to 18 freelance artists to successfully apply for Arts Council England funding
  • Collaborating with 20 artists to create an offline festival, Quiet Carnival, to test new work and gain new audiences
  • Provision of a safe space for vulnerable members of communities, performers, musicians and elders to utilise outdoor space(s) and stream music, rehearse and meet (once permitted)
  • The piloting of a ‘directory of creative enquiries’ at food banks, to offer bespoke advice and materials to children and families
  • Supporting community member Sarah Kaur, (home educator) to help grow Culture Club - an online programme aimed at children not in school and using creative approaches for exploration of cultural identity.

Friction Arts is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation. It has been making art projects, mounting exhibitions and giving performances in Birmingham and internationally for over 25 years. From allotment gardeners in Handsworth to street children in Johannesburg, the organisation 'helps people tell untold stories, make the unseen visible and give the unheard a voice in the world'.

A presentation ceremony on Thursday 11 March will reveal whether Friction Arts has been successful in winning one of the three prizes on offer: £100,000 for the winner and two runners-up prizes, each worth £25,000.

Friction Arts will also have its work catalogued in a digital pamphlet that will be released to coincide with the awards ceremony.

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