Spread the Word celebrates BBC Arts and Arts Council England Culture in Quarantine poetry film commission, ‘Say Your Peace’


Spread the Word is celebrating being one of 25 new works of literary, musical, visual, sonic, and performance arts themed around lockdown commissioned by BBC Arts, Arts Council England and The Space.

Spread the Word has commissioned three Young People’s Laureates for London, including current Laureate Theresa Lola, and two previous Laureates Caleb Femi and Momtaza Mehri, to create new poems alongside filmmakers Ndrika Anyika and Jolade Olusanya; with Caleb also working as a filmmaker on the project. The finished production will be a three-part film-poem,  which will explore the themes of Theresa’s #SayYourPeace campaign, about celebrating the things that bring us peace in this period of chaos and uncertainty.

Culture In Quarantine was launched by Jonty Claypole, director of BBC Arts, at the beginning of lockdown. The selection process was managed by The Space, a digital agency and production company helping to promote wider engagement across the arts and cultural sector.

In total, 25 projects have been selected from across England. These pieces will be exhibited through broadcast slots across BBC Radio 3 and BBC TV, through podcasts on BBC Sounds, and through the BBC Arts website continuing with the Culture in Quarantine mission to bring the arts to UK homes despite arts venue closures, social distancing, and UK-wide lockdowns.

Jonty Claypole, Director of BBC Arts, said: “The commissioned art works have a breath of viewpoint, tone and innovation, offering something for everybody. Together, with similar schemes we have in all the nations, these projects providing a powerful snapshot – both for now and posterity – of our country during lockdown.

Simon Mellor, Deputy Chief Executive at Arts Council England said: “During the isolation of lockdown, millions of us are finding solace in the unique power of the arts to help us make sense of the world around us.  We’re delighted to be partnering with BBC Arts to commission and deliver 25 high quality new works of art into the nation’s living rooms over the coming months.”

Fiona Morris, CEO and Creative Director, The Space said: “The Space looks forward to working with the commissioned artists and associate organisations to produce these works that will chronicle our experiences and help us make sense of the times we are living through.”

Theresa Lola, Young People’s Laureate for London, said: “‪In this unprecedented time of chaos and pain every moment of peace we can hold on to is precious. While physical connection is on pause at the moment we have to find other ways to connect and encourage each other.”

For more information, visit: www.bbc.co.uk/arts

Artists’ Biographies

Theresa Lola is a British Nigerian poet. She is the 2019/2020 Young People’s Laureate for London. She has held residencies at St Paul’s Cathedral and Bethlem Musem of the Mind. She was joint winner of the 2018 Brunel International African Poetry Prize and was shortlisted for the 2017 Bridport Poetry Prize. ‬Her debut poetry collection ‘In Search of Equilibrium’ (Nine Arches Press, 2018) is described as a ‘a glorious hymn to being alive and wounded.

Momtaza Mehri is a poet, essayist & independent researcher. She is the winner of the 2019 Manchester Poetry Prize. Her work has been widely published in Granta, Artforum, Berkeley Poetry Review and BOMB Magazine, amongst others. Her latest pamphlet, Doing the Most with the Least, was published by Goldsmiths Press in 2019. 

Caleb Femi is a writer and director featured in the Dazed 100 list of the next generation shaping youth culture. Caleb has written and directed short films commissioned by the BBC ‘FAM’ and Channel 4 ‘And They Knew Light’ as well as a Christmas campaign for Mulberry. Caleb’s debut collection POOR is released in November 2020.

Jolade Olusanya is a British Nigerian poet, director and photographer. He was a finalist in the 2013/14 Young People’s Laureate for London programme, winner of the Outspoken 2017 Prize for Poetry and Performance Poetry Prize. ‬As a director and photographer, he has been commissioned and featured globally by WeTransfer/WePresent, BET, Kodak, Red Bull Music, Sony Music, C4/Random Acts, Google, Barbican and more. He’s also a creative arts facilitator and co-founder of production company Rxnin Co.

Ndrika Anyika is a British Nigerian Director/DOP from Sheffield. She wrote and directed short film A Flourishing Crown, which aired on BBC 4 in 2020. She will be directing short film, Coconut, in the coming months – commissioned by BBC Drama and the BFI. As a DOP in 2019, she shot short films such as Sweet Mother, which premiered at the BFI Flare festival 2020 and Notes on Being a Lady, which aired on BBC 4.

Published 26 May 2020