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Future Fires is a long-standing Contact programme – supporting young artists to develop creative programmes for their communities. Meet the new cohort! 

Frankie Blaus, James Varney, Emmy Clarke, Weng-U Pun and Jamie Lee have each come up with socially engaged, community project ideas, and over the next twelve months, they will develop their ideas and make their projects come to life.

We caught up with the creatives to find out who they are and what ideas they have.

Frankie Blaus (they/them)

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m a non-binary, neurodivergent, working-class person working in literature, theatre and facilitation. I’m an educator, mover and shaker and change maker.

I’m curiosity orientated; drawn to the weird and wonderful. I want to remind the world of its innate weirdness through community-making practices.

What is your project going to be about?

TRANS JOY!

Using community consultation, a collective of trans artists will develop a manifesto towards creating TRANS JOY in arts and culture, seeking to remove the fetishization of our pain, replacing it with appreciation of our pleasure.

What are you looking forward to with Future Fires?

The training! Developing my project and practice! Creating meaningful engagement for my community.

Frankie Blaus – Taken by Audrey Albert

James Varney

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am a writer and theatre maker living in Manchester. I make work about politics and cities and how we as citizens fit inside them.

What is your project going to be about?

I am developing ‘We Live Here’, a series of co-created workshops with fellow residents of Hulme, about our relationship to the city and how we feel about the ways it is built and rebuilt around us. I want to find ways to assert our right to the area we live in and record our experiences and perspectives on home.

What are you looking forward to with Future Fires?

I’m excited to challenge myself and learn tools to apply to my practice and grow as an artist and deliver projects.

James Varney – Taken by Audrey Albert

Emmy Clarke (she/they)

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am an autistic writer from Manchester. Recently published with Stories of Care in ‘Tales of the Bold, the Brave and the Beautiful’. I’m primarily a writer of children’s stories. I also study Creative Writing and English Literature with the Open University and work part-time as a bookseller.

What is your project going to be about?

My project aims to tackle the relative lack of neurodivergent voices in children’s publishing, by producing a series of workshops and resources to aid and engage neurodiverse creatives to create works for children for eventual publication in a collection!

What are you looking forward to with Future Fires?

Learning new project management skills and gaining greater confidence and perspective on my project.

Emmy Clarke – Taken by Audrey Albert

Weng-U Pun

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am a writer from Macau who has enjoyed four lovely years in Manchester studying English Literature and Creative Writing. I am currently working on a cyberpunk novel set in 2098 that follows the life of a Chinese climate refugee in Manchester! My favourite things to do are listening to women in rock, crocheting and thrifting gems in charity shops.

What is your project going to be about?

My project is primarily going to be a series of fun, free and accessible creative writing workshops for East and Southeast Asians, who are unfortunately underrepresented in the arts in the UK. My ultimate goal, however, is to create a lovely support network for ESEAs that are interested in the arts. That is why there will also be reading groups focused on published ESEA writers, casual social events and drop-in sessions!

What are you looking forward to with Future Fires?

I am looking forward to so much! I am looking forward to developing the skills needed to become an excellent workshop facilitator and project manager. I’m really looking forward to planning the contents of the workshops, the social events and choosing books for us to read. I am also very excited by the promotional side of things such as designing the logo and coming up with the name of the project.

Weng-U Pun – Taken by Audrey Albert

Jamie Lee

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m a neurodivergent performer and spoken word artivist of mixed heritage based in Wigan. I was a member of Contact Young Company which reawakened within me both a passion for creativity and a strong sense of social justice, sparking an investment in climate change which led me to participate in protests with Extinction Rebellion in 2018. Since then, I have been spending much of my time thinking about disability and sexuality acceptance, racial equity and how these can intersect with the climate crisis.

What is your project going to be about?

The project is a series of workshops leading to a spoken word performance event to give young people of colour a platform to explore the intersection of race and environmentalism and express what engaging with the climate and ecological crisis looks like for them.

What are you looking forward to with Future Fires?

I’m looking forward to connecting with and learning from the experiences of other people of colour and developing my skills and confidence to deliver similar projects in future.

Taken by Audrey Albert

 

Watch out on our social media and website for more updates to come as they develop their projects.

To find out more about the Future Fires programme click here.