First Part Of ‘Inventing the Future’ Announced

First Part Of ‘Inventing the Future’ Announced

Posted on November 9th, 2020

Today HighTide announced the first phase of its Inventing the Future programme, a range of initiatives to support the rebuilding of the arts sector in its current recovery phase and made possible by a grant of £78,000 from the Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund. 

Announced are the launch of School of HighTide and two new Higher Education partnerships with London College of Communication at University of the Arts, London and University of East Anglia, with further initiatives to be announced shortly.


HighTide has long been known for nurturing truly diverse talent and showcasing the future of British theatre. They work across the UK to develop and showcase the country’s best new playwrights and plays and productions are typically challenging, contemporary and political, and are written by diverse new playwrights. These new initiatives announced today very much continue in this vein.

‘Inventing the Future is part of our contribution to the UK’s cultural recovery and I’m delighted to share the first phase of this programme today. As a new writing organisation, we have always championed and uplifted artistic voices. However, the Covid-19 Global Pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement has re-affirmed my belief that Black, Asian, MENA, Latin and all Minority Ethnic heritage writers must be supported and nurtured. They should also be encouraged to develop not only their craft but also how they use their artistic voice to tell stories that reflect the urgent political and social changes that have happened this year. Through School of HighTide writers will not only to make sense of current events as individuals but also how that understanding and passion can be harnessed into making the most relevant and necessary work for today. 

This paired with our partnerships with the London College of Communication (LCC) at University of the Arts, London and University of East Anglia will allow us to contribute in a meaningful way to breaking down barriers and addressing systematic racism and inequalities within the arts. The theatre of tomorrow is not the theatre of the past and we welcome the opportunities this brings for a more exciting, diverse and responsive British Theatre ecology.

We’re grateful to DCMS and Arts Council, whose ongoing support to HighTide throughout the pandemic enables us to plan with certainty and to do even more to support our freelance community during these challenging times. We are also thrilled to have secured a major grant from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, one of the UK’s most significant supporters of the arts, to further support the costs of our new ways of working. This support is testament to HighTide’s longstanding history of nurturing the most exciting playwriting talent in the UK and sharing this work with our communities in the East of England; and this mission remains at the heart of our future.”

 Suba Das, HighTide’s Artistic Director and CEO


In response to the pandemic crisis and designed to address the barriers and structures that disproportionately impact some artists from sustaining a career, HighTide is launching School of HighTidea free three-month workshop programme curated by Director and HighTide Associate Artist Chris Sonnex.  Acknowledging the barriers and structures that disproportionately impact artists in accessing opportunities and being able to sustain a career in the arts, School of HighTide is open to playwrights who identify as Black, Asian, MENA, Latin and/or all Minority Ethnic heritage and who are committed to playwriting and want to strengthen their practise.

Practitioners will include Sonia Jalaly, Milli Bhatia, High Rise Theatre Collective, Temi Wilkey, Debbie Hannan (Co-Artistic Director Traverse Theatre), Myah Jeffers, Eve Leigh, Ned Glasier (Company Three), and more.

The Covid-19 Global Pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement have highlighted the significant and entrenched inequalities that are still present within the world and within the arts sector. School of HighTide was borne of the challenges and necessary conversations that 2020 has brought to the foreground. Deeply concerned about whose stories get to be told and more crucially whose stories are missing, HighTide passionately believes that it is the responsibility of organisations like itself to ensure that the industry is representative of our society and to challenge the status-quo. HighTide will work to help ensure that voices are not lost as a result of the many barriers that existed prior to this pandemic and also those that have manifested as a result of it.

There have been many calls for theatre to return not only stronger but more sustainable, to challenge and hold society better. With that in mind we wanted to redesign the idea of what a writers’ workshop series looked like. Asking the question “how can we tool artists to create work with a civic duty at its heart, whilst ensuring they also look after their own heart, soul and mind?.”  These workshops will explore a different way, not just focussing on how to write the play we want to see, but more – how can we write the world we want to see?” Chris Sonnex

Playwrights who would like to take part and fit the outlined criteria, can fill in this expression of interest form here.


HighTide has entered into two new Higher Education partnerships with London College of Communication (LCC) at University of the Arts, London and University of East Anglia designed to increase access to training and broaden collaborative approaches between sectors.

In collaboration with Lucia McGuinness, Systems Thinker and Lecturer on the BA Design Management course at LCC, the HighTide team and Associates explored the challenge of how they might better connect diverse playwrights to their audience. As part of the programme, the second year BA Design Management students will be responding to this brief using a design thinking approach with the aim of offering a variety of design-led solutions to removing barriers of engagement, improving connections, and building communities. Working in this way will allow for innovation to come from outside of the theatre sector, giving fresh viewpoints. Playwrights included in this project include Vinay Patel and Abi Zakarian as well as HighTide Associates Chino Odimba and Aisha Zia.

‘We are delighted to be partnering with LCC to develop this new approach to addressing inequalities in our industry. It’s so important that to ensure increased development and exposure for underrepresented voices within the arts, that we are working with the very best young minds to ensure the best possibilities for change.  We are sure this will not just develop new ways of thinking but also a practical model and toolkit for change 

UEA and HighTide have supported each other’s work over a number of years and we are thrilled to now begin this partnership with one of the foremost creative higher education organisations in the East of England. We can’t wait to see the results and successes from this partnership affect real change in our local communities.’ 

Rowan Rutter, Executive Director, HighTide

HighTide’s partnership with the University of East Anglia (UEA) is being devised with the goal of delivering bespoke support and training on creative partnerships and community engagement to practitioners at HE level.