Artists of Colour Initiative Launched

The 25 Panelists of the 2020 Artists of Colour Initiative Inaugural Scholarship

New Scholarship to Support Culturally Diverse BIPOC Artists

First Round Closes September 28

A new scholarship competition has been launched by new group, the Artists of Colour Initiative (AOC), designed to provide financial assistance and industry support to six (6) exceptionally talented theatre performers based in Australia that identify as Bla(c)k, Indigenous or as People of Colour (POC) – BIPOC.

Tarik Frimpong

The initiative was born in response to, and from the recognition of, the underrepresentation of these communities in the Australian theatre industry. The aim of the scholarship is to ensure greater participation within the field of musical theatre amongst these marginalised communities.

Founder of AOC Initiative Tarik Frimpong said, “The AOC Initiative is a celebration of People of Colour – a community I am a part of – with the aim to come together, have important conversations and fight for change in the Australian theatre industry. I wanted to create an opportunity where I could support and celebrate artists who identify as Bla(c)k, Indigenous or POC by providing them with greater visibility and a stepping stone to a more racially inclusive theatre industry.”

Submissions for the scholarship will occur in three (3)  rounds with the first submission deadline on Monday 28 September. From there, a top 30 will be announced followed by a top six then ultimately, one winner.

To assist in curating the semi-finalists and finalists, a panel of longstanding performers, choreographers, directors, musical directors, writers and activists of the theatre industry who identify as Bla(c)k, Indigenous or as People of Colour will lead the charge.

Kurt Kansley

The 2020 panelists for the AOC Initiative are Barry Conrad, Bree Langridge, Callum Francis, Cessalee Smith-Stovall, Chenoa Deemal, Daniel J Puckey, Dean Drieberg, Fiona Choi, Kurt Kansley, Laura Tipoki, Leah Howard, Miss Cairo, Olivia Vasquez, Ruva Ngwenya, Sello Molefi, Sophia Laryea, Steph Tisdell, Tarik Frimpong, Thando Sikwila, Tim Omaji, Tyrel Dulvarie, Vidya Makan, Will Centurion, Yasmin Kassim and Yvette Lee.

“I am honoured to be a panelist for the AOC initiative. Growing up in Australia as an immigrant from a mixed raced South African background in the 80s and 90s and dreaming of being on the stage, I hardly saw anyone who looked like me being represented on stage or behind the scenes in the theatre. I had to work harder than my peers who came from caucasian backgrounds to be seen and taken seriously,” says Kurt Kansley.

To qualify for the AOC Initiative, applicants must:

  • identify as Bla(c)k, Indigenous or as People of Colour;
  • be pursuing a career in musical theatre;
  • be aged between 17 and 30 at the time of submission;
  • be an Australian citizen or resident;
  • not have previously secured a leading or supporting role in a main stage musical theatre production, and
  • not be engaged in or scheduled for performance-related work in a leading or supporting role at the time of submission.

“I am looking for young artists who have tenacity and perseverance to fight for their worth. Artists who are willing to learn and are open to play. Not only is the talent integral, but the willingness to work hard and believe in oneself is of utmost importance,” says Kansley.

Donations are being raised via GoFundMe with 100% of the prize money being awarded to the six finalists. So far, the AOC has raised over $10,000 with the winner receiving 50% of the donations; the runner up receiving 20% of the donations and the final four receiving 7.5% of the donations each. All donations support a step forward in the dialogue of inclusivity and social awareness.

“The AOC Initiative was created by People of Colour for People of Colour and we are fighting for change in the musical theatre industry,” says Frimpong.

For more information visit
Instagram: @aocinitiative

#aocinitiative #artistsofcolour

[The Artists of Colour Initiative acknowledges the Traditional Owners of this land on which it was developed; the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation and we pay our respect to their elders past, present and future.]


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