First 12 artists announced as part of Unity’s 2021 Open Call Programme

Thursday, 11 February 2021

Posted by

  • Today we are delighted to announce the first 12 artists we are supporting as part of our 2021 Open Call Programme.
  • The line-up includes Amina Atiq’s exploration of Liverpool’s Yemeni community, comedian Sian Davies’ new show About Time, Out The Attic’s That’s What She Said, premieres from Transcend Theatre, All Things Considered, Rickety Fidgets and One September, and Playgrounds in a Pandemic – a new online and live performance from Sarah Bailey connecting school children across three countries.
  • Alongside the Open Call Programme, we’re also pleased to announce Gold Maria Akanbi as the recipient of their £3000 Online Commission to create a new piece of online work for audiences continuing to shield.
  • With over 16 times the number of applicants to places available, we have launched a Crowdfunder as part of the Open Call to meet the needs of Liverpool artists throughout the pandemic and to support even more with bursaries of up to £1250 plus creative, practical and welfare support.

Following a call-out in December for Merseyside artists to submit work as part of their 2021 Season, today we are delighted to announce the first 12 artists supported by our Open Call Programme. Designed to help artists survive and comeback stronger than ever after a year of restricted income streams and creative outlets, those featured in Unity’s Open Call Programme will receive a bursary of up to £1250 alongside creative, production and welfare support.

The 12 artists announced today represent the breadth and talent of Liverpool’s creative community with work from a wide-range of people and practices including dance, comedy, theatre, digital installation, online performance, audio-plays and young-people’s outreach.

The line-up includes Amina Atiq’s Scouse Pilgrimage, an online and live exploration of Liverpool’s Yemeni community and the cities relationship with immigration, award-winning comedian Sian Davies’ new show About Time, Out The Attic’s feminist production That’s What She Said, new productions from Transcend Theatre, Rickety Fidgets, Alice Bunker-Whitney, Victoria Oxley, Leianna Boodaghian and One September, All Things Considered’s The Storm Shepheard – a new, immersive audio/visual performance for 7-12 year olds and their carers, and Playgrounds in a Pandemic – a new online and live performance from Sarah Bailey connecting school children across three countries.

Alongside the Open Call Programme, we are also pleased to announce Gold Maria Akanbi as the recipient of our £3000 Online Commission for a D/deaf, disabled or neurodivergent artist to create a new piece of online work from home. Gold Maria Akanbi is a bisexual, neurodiverse British-Nigerian artist whose work focuses on topics such as sexual feminism, the decolonisation of The Black (disabled) Body, epigenetic trauma and healing. In this new commission from Unity, Gold will create a brand-new piece of online dance exploring the minds of disabled people during COVID-19.


Finally, together with this announcement we have also launched a Crowdfunder page to support more Liverpool artists. With over 16 times the number of applicants for the Open Call to places available, the need from artists for financial and creative support has never been stronger, particularly with so many ineligible for the government income support scheme. Through this Crowdfunder we hope to say yes to a further 10 Open Call applications and provide even more Liverpool artists with income and opportunity.

Full details of the Open Call Programme, including additional artists supported thanks to funds raised through the Crowdfunder, will be announced in early April alongside our full 2021 Season.


About the Artists:

Amina Atiq

Amina Atiq is a Yemeni- Scouse writer, a performance artist, facilitator and activist. She was awarded the Liverpool John Moore’s University Citizenship award for her active and community engagement work and awarded the best North West volunteer by Human Appeal. Awarded as a Young Associate for Curious Minds and BBC Words First Finalist 2019. She has been featured on various artistic platforms such as BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Radio 6 music, BBC 4 Radio, Bitesize, The Independent, British Muslim TV @thewarehouse, Writing on the Wall, Skinny magazine, Whispering Dialogue, CAAT, Human Appeal and many more. Her recent work involves a poem commissioned for the Yemen in Conflict project, part of a multimedia exhibition at the Liverpool Arab Arts Festival, and a series of newly commissioned ‘poemfilms’ connecting Yemeni poets with filmmakers exploring how the country’s rich tradition of poetry and language can be preserved and passed onto younger generations. She recently performed at Unity as part of DaDa Festival.

All Things Considered

All Things Considered, set up in 2013 by Emma Bramley and Sarah Hogarth, create socially engaged theatre that encourages honest and pertinent conversations between people through intimate, participatory and immersive performances. Much of our work is verbatim because we love chatting to people and discovering the funny, moving and unique stories that we all have inside us. These hidden conversations are the starting point for our performances which, have explored various topics, from male suicide, parenthood and growing up skint in the 1980s. We invite our audiences to physically step into the world of our performances, to rub shoulders with the performers and to absorb first-hand the weight of the words from the people we have spoken to. Our hope is that in this intimate space our audiences will feel closer to the stories we present and this will prompt them to reflect, connect, change and understand both personally and communally. Find out more.

Alice Bunker-Whitney

Alice Bunker-Whitney is a theatre maker, performer and arts facilitator based in Liverpool. Previous works include ‘Tales from Under the Counter’, ‘It’s Never Too Late to Happy Childhood’ and ‘Place & Chips’. Alice is a core member of Street Theatre Company EggPeople and in 2018 directed the last ever Hope Street Limited show ‘Climate Change is Rubbish.’ As an arts facilitator Alice works with Travelled Companions, M6 Theatre, Unity, Young Everyman & Playhouse, 20 Stories high, Altru Drama, Cotton Shed and Writing on the Wall.

Gold Maria Akanbi

Gold Maria Akanbi is a bisexual neurodiverse British-Nigerian artist that lives and works in both Liverpool and Kent. Gold’s artistic practice takes on a multidisciplinary approach, attempting to fully draw in the audience by giving them a full and rich experience through a variation of mediums, touching upon their senses in a multitude of ways, to help grasp their understanding of neurodiversity. Focusing on topics such as sexual feminism, the decolonisation of The Black (disabled) Body, epigenetic trauma and healing modalities and decolonised alternative spirituality, Gold’s performance work uses a range of formats to speak and interact with my audience, such as dance, gesture, silent film, sounds, poetry and written text that accompanies said performance.

Leianna Boodaghian

Leianna is a writer from the Wirral with Armenian heritage. She graduated from LIPA with a degree in community drama in 2016 and in 2018 completed the Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse Playwrights’ Programme. She is a mum of two and has a passion for creating and performing in her own work. Leianna was inspired by reading Unprotected (Everyman 2006) to write plays that she feels need to be heard, and to create conversation. Leianna was also commissioned to write alongside Lizzie Nunnery for the lantern festival as part of WoW Fest Liverpool’s Light Night.

One September

One September is an arts production/development company run by Deborah Wintle-Escott and Aleasha Chaunte. One September devise projects and collaborate with partner organisations to deliver arts-based interventions with the aim of improving our community and advancing the cause of social justice. One September are well-established with over 20 years of experience in performance, community art and arts management, working for companies such as Writing on the Wall, DaDaFest, Fittings, Open Eye Gallery, Everyman Theatre and Liverpool City Council, National Theatre, and their own companies. Find out more.

Out The Attic

Out The Attic are a Liverpool based Theatre company who have a passion for giving voices to women and those underrepresented through history. That’s what she Said is a brand new piece of theatre that explores what it means to be a woman. Devised based on real life experiences of the cast, the play opens the conversations on sisterhood and race in a modern way through the eyes of six young women on holiday in Ibiza.

Rickety Fidgets

Rickety Fidgets was created in Liverpool by Georgina, Aidan and Deborah. With focus on bringing theatre to areas that have little access to the arts, they create stories about acceptance, and what it feels like to try to find your way in a world that isn’t always as friendly as you might like it to be. Drawing inspiration from puppetry, clowning and interactive storytelling, performances by the fidgets are full to the brim with playfulness and heart. Find out more.

Sian Davies

A regular on the comedy circuit, Sian has performed at theatres, clubs and arts centres across the UK and supported Fern Brady on her 2019 tour. Sian is the host of two Edinburgh Fringe sell out shows, each with a cult following. Comedy Queers is a late night LGBTQIA+ show in which anything could and probably will happen. Best In Class is a crowd funded, profit sharing initiative that champions working class comedians. Since 2018 Best In Class has assisted 24 working class comedians to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe and has gathered support from performers such as Tez Illyas, Angela Barnes and Frankie Boyle. Find out more.

Sarah Bailey

‘Playgrounds of The Pandemic’ builds on Sarah Bailey’s ongoing relationship with Holy Family School in L8, connecting children’s experiences of 2020/21 across national borders. In 2020, 9 children from Holy Family exchanged letters with Sarah, which became a book entitled ‘Girl on the Gate’. Across three countries, children from Liverpool will now exchange letters and ideas on their collective experiences of this time. Together they will explore ideas of isolation and separation, moving from the personal to the political. A new video piece will share their hopes about the future in Autumn 2021 and will develop into a live performance in 2022. Sarah is interested in listening. Her aim is to reveal hidden or create new narratives through conversation and collaboration with people, places and organisations. Much of Sarah’s work focuses on children and young people, and the worlds around them.

Transcend Theatre

Transcend Theatre are an LGBTQI+ led theatre company formed of Ailis Lord, Felix Mufti-Wright, and Christy Mather who incorporate activism within their work. Transcend push the limits of the industry and explore underrepresented topics that affect the LGBTQI+ community. They experiment with mixed mediums including spoken-work poetry, music and theatre to produce multi-disciplinary work which creates maximum audience engagement. Transcend work with community groups to raise awareness of these issues within the everyday spaces they are found. Queer-led, queer-focused, queer-empowering. Find out more.

Victoria Oxley

Victoria is a Liverpool Actor, Writer and Musician. Victoria’s short play Heaven or Pussy performed as part of Take Stock Theatre in 2019 and is being developed for a tour funding application with the support of HER productions in Manchester. Victoria specialises in comedy writing and also draws experience from her work as a mentor to vulnerable children in Liverpool to explore stories that aren’t always told.