We are Sounds Like Chaos; a radical performance company reimagining the future of the creative industries. Our Lewisham-based collective of 13 – 25 year olds from diverse backgrounds, typically underrepresented in the arts, have been making performance with us for ten years. Having created over 15 events and performances with and for the Albany, Battersea Arts Centre, Traverse Edinburgh and HOME Manchester, the collective has the ideas, skills and capabilities the sector desperately needs.

In early March we were meeting weekly at the Albany, with our core company of thirty young artists, developing our current show, DIRT. As the UK began to shut down, and bringing people together physically became forbidden, we knew it was vital that we continued to connect with each other and also imperative that we changed.  

Quarantine Commissions gives these young artists complete creative freedom to experiment and respond to Covid 19. Through offering financial support, resources, mentoring and a platform to present, without preconceived ideas or limitations on what they should make, we will foster innovation, independent voices and vision for the digital work of the future.

As a small agile company with tiny overheads, we are able to respond quickly in a crisis to the needs of those we represent and have diverted our funds to commission 14 of our young artists to create in quarantine. They are emerging practitioners, in the very first stages of their career, balancing freelance work with low paid, part time or zero hours employment. When the hospitality and entertainment sectors were the first to shut down, these young people were the first to lose their jobs and weren’t offered furlough.  As freelancers they fell through the cracks and did not qualify for the Government support schemes. There was a financial imperative for these young artists, and a huge risk that this would be the moment they stopped pursuing a career in the arts.

Sounds Like Chaos artist Chiquita Delisser, 21, tells us ‘Before lockdown I had gotten to a place when my work was encouraging my art. Now being in a space where I can’t work, it has made me less motivated to create and build. This opportunity gives me a routine where I am able to set tasks and feel as though I am building and contributing to my future again’

Covid 19 has given our sector an opportunity to reevaluate. Now is the time to invest in the artists of the future, and to ensure the talent we have nurtured from a young age, stays in the UK creative industries, where it is so vitally needed.  These artists and their work connect with communities that many find hard to reach as they are from those communities.  We are hugely grateful and excited to have received an emergency ACE grant which will enable us to continue this work by enhancing the support package we are offering our artists, and the Quarantine Commissions will be the first in a series of new works from these creators of the future.

As a company, we see and delight in the democratisation of creative content production through online platforms.  Such as the tiktok community where everyone and their mum is an entertainer, and while we enjoy the obliteration of the screening process and the deluge of You’ve Been Framed-esque clips streaming over our screen, we wonder how we nurture these entertainers to become considered, artistic thinkers. We sit on a treasure trove of technical skills, ideas and confidence, with the digital natives akin to the bilingual children we always wanted to be at school; communicating with ease through these multiplying mediums.

The role of the arts sector now has to be to nurture them, to create space and opportunity for them to cultivate their voice. It is hugely exciting to think of the work we could see in the future if we invest in this now. We must move the power and resources away from buildings and administrators, and use it to seed thousands, of millions of growing artists and let the grass roots companies flourish.

Quarantine Commissions will be publishing the work of young artists from 12 – 29 May.