The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s Making It Happen programme is supporting and celebrating its graduates’ creativity and career goals.
A film exploring mental health in working-class male communities, a music podcast of folk songs centred on Glasgow’s iconic River Clyde, a mother and daughter performance piece, and a documentary that examines youth culture in rural Scotland … it’s a snapshot of some of the work that will take flight thanks to the microfunding initiative from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
A catalyst for creativity and collaboration, the Make It Happen Fund nurtures the UK’s new voices as they take their next steps on their professional paths.
Launched in 2018, this competitive pot of seed funding supports the career goals and ambitions of emerging artists from Scotland’s national conservatoire. Funding is available for everything from training, networking, testing ideas and starting up companies to staging pop-up events, digital performances and forming new collaborations.
Eleven projects led by graduates from 2018-2020 have received fixed awards of £1000 from the Make It Happen Fund.
This year, for the first time, the programme was also funded by an external donor to support alumni entrepreneurship. This financial support comes at a crucial time when the arts are facing unprecedented challenges due to the global pandemic.
Edinburgh-based actor and theatre-maker Callum Douglas, who graduated from the BA Acting degree programme in 2018, is one of this year’s award recipients and will use the funding to develop a new audio drama script alongside several RCS graduates.
Callum said: ‘This last year has been exhausting and scary. Throughout the pandemic, myself and many of my RCS classmates have had no acting work or creative projects to focus on and have instead been in survival mode, slowly losing touch with our creativity.
‘I see this as an opportunity to bring creative people who I care about together – whose skills and passions I admire, and who were a huge part of my student experience – to reawaken the creative drive inside of us. My hope is that the Make It Happen Fund will provide a much-needed renewal of confidence and self-belief. This, for me, often feels like the most significant barrier between here and the next stages of our careers. Especially right now.’
Mezzo-soprano Joanna Harries graduated with a Master of Music from the RCS opera school in 2018. Alongside performing, she is co-founder of SongPath, an initiative bringing music and walking together for mental health. Funding will help her develop a new podcast called Songs of the Clyde, connecting music and landscape in an exploratory journey along the River Clyde using folk song.
Joanna said: ‘Like many this past year, I’ve found my daily exercise outside a lifeline and it’s given me a renewed fascination with the landscapes, history, people and stories surrounding us. I’m passionate about bringing music to new and different spaces.
‘Make It Happen will bring this podcast to life by funding equipment, training and development time. I’m already talking to festivals in both Scotland and the rest of the UK about collaborating on future series. With the help of this award, I hope to create a lasting musical resource for the future.’
Professor Jeffrey Sharkey, Principal of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, said: ‘It’s wonderful that so many projects will take flight with support from the Make It Happen Fund and we wish this year’s recipients all the very best as they move forward in their careers. It has been a difficult year for the arts but it’s uplifting to see the creative energy and innovative projects of our graduates whose artistry never fails to inspire.’
Deborah Keogh, knowledge exchange manager and innovation hub leader at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, said: ‘The Make It Happen Fund exists to support our graduates at the start of their careers, investing in their ideas and ambitions to help bring their projects to life. This year’s recipients are hugely enterprising and applying their creativity and talent in new and innovative ways. We’re looking forward to seeing them, and their projects, flourish.”
Make It Happen funding will enable 2020 filmmaking graduate Hannah Hunter, from Kilchoan, Ardnamurchan, to collaborate with Eve Park, a fellow filmmaker and classmate, on their latest work Dùthchas, which looks at youth culture in rural communities of the west of Scotland and the modern generation’s relationship with the land, traditional culture and Gaelic.
Contemporary Performance Practice 2018 graduate Charneh Watson will collaborate with her mum Helen on developing a project/performance piece called Like Mother/Like Daughter. Through a research and development week, they will explore how creativity and a creative process can become a form of care within itself, by looking through the lens of their own relationship.
Mairi McGillivray, who graduated from the Traditional Music degree course last year, staged an online live concert for the launch of her debut EP, In My Mind, using her Make It Happen funding. Mairi was joined by RCS graduates Isla Callister (fiddle), Charlie Stewart (double bass) and Graham Rorie (fiddle/mandolin/tenor guitar) as well as Seán Gray (guitar).
Mairi said: ‘The chance to put on an online live concert, which was freely accessible, was an amazing opportunity. Being able to bring in the incredibly talented musicians that played on my EP is an honour and incredibly refreshing after having very few live opportunities in the last year. This event wouldn’t have been possible with the support from the Make It Happen Fund, for which I am truly grateful.’
Find out more about the Make It Happen Fund HERE.
If you would like to find out more about how to support students and alumni starting out in their careers through a donation to the Make It Happen Fund, contact head of fundraising, Julie Reynolds on email@example.com or 0141 270 8264.