Tom MacRae, Nikesh Shukla, Emma Gannon and More Announced as Judges for Visionary Honours 2020

Award Winning West End Playwright Tom MacRae (Everybody’s Talking About Jamie), bestselling author Nikesh Shukla (The Good Immigrant), Sunday Times bestselling author and podcaster Emma Gannon (The Multi-Hyphen Method, Ctrl Alt Delete), poet, filmmaker and founder of the Caramel Film Club Be Manzini, BBC London Arts correspondent Brenda Emmanus are among the judges who have been confirmed for the UK’s only awards that celebrate social impact – The Visionary Honours 2020. Leading comic and actress Sally Phillips will host the 2020 awards. Sally Phillips said:

“I am very proud to be the host of the second annual Visionary Honours and to be a part of the Foundation’s work in empowering young creatives to inspire social change. Having been in the creative industries for over 20 years, I have seen how films and documentaries can influence minds and impact the world.

 My son, Oliver, has Down Syndrome, so it is perhaps no surprise that I strongly advocate inclusive opportunities which allow everybody to participate in the cultural and economic activities of the communities in which they live. The Visionary Arts Foundation promotes a more a diverse society, and for me that is much richer society.”

The Visionary Honours, organised by the not for profit, Visionary Arts Foundation, shine a light on culture, media and entertainment that has inspired social change or debate. Founder of the awards, Adrian Grant commented:

“The Visionary Honours are not about awarding egos or fame. They are about recognising culture, media and entertainment that has created awareness of social issues and inspired change or debate. Through the Visionary Arts Foundation it is my goal to empower young creatives to produce work that can influence positive social change.”

There are nine categories in total including TV Show of the Year, Documentary of the Year, Film of the Year, Play/Musical of the Year, Book of the Year, Song of the Year,  Influencer/Journalist of the Year, Community Person of the Year and Most Inspiring Person of the Year. A panel of judges including Tom MacRae, Nikesh Shukla, Emma Gannon, Be Manzini, Brenda Emmanus, Emily Jupp, Camilla Pia and Boyd Hilton will compile a shortlist of nominees before the public have their chance to vote online when polls open on the 4th February.

The 2019 inaugural award show was a star-studded evening at BAFTA, with legendary Sir Lenny Henry hosting and a special live performance from rapper and campaigner for mental health awareness, Professor Green with fellow collaborator, Rag‘n’Bone Man. Last Year’s winners included: ‘Black Panther’ for Film of the Year with actor Danny Sapani collecting the prize, Doctor Who winning TV show of the Year with screenwriter Malorie Blackman collecting the prize, and Krishnan Guru Murthy winning Broadcast of the Year with his podcast ‘Ways to Change the World’. Chief Mandla Mandela, was also at the awards collecting The Visionary Legacy Honour on behalf of his Grandfather, Nelson Mandela.

In January 2020, The Visionary Arts Foundation will also launch their first ever bursary scheme. The mission of the scheme is simple – to advance the creative projects of grass root talent who may otherwise face social and/or economic barriers to success, and in turn hear more diverse and empowering stories through the arts.

To achieve this goal, founder, philanthropist and Creator of the hit West End musical, ‘Thriller Live’, Adrian Grant is awarding up to 10 bursaries of up to £5,000 each to 18-29-year old’s every year through the #ImagineChange Campaign. The driving priorities of the bursaries are to back projects which develop and progress exciting new talent and support projects which have a cultural or social impact. Adrian Grant said:

“The Imagine Change Campaign will focus on culture, media & entertainment led projects that contain thought leadership solutions to social issues around Inclusion & Diversity, Mental Health, Anti-Social Behaviour and the Climate Crisis.

 Recipients of our bursaries will be entered into our Visionary Impact Programme where they will receive mentoring from industry experts, ongoing support during the development of their projects and be invited to an end of year showcase highlighting their work.”

The bursaries will be awarded to young creatives with either film, music, television, theatre, literature or digital media passion projects that are shown to have an impact or create debate around a social issue.  The bursaries will particularly help support the career advancement and social mobility for young people from disadvantaged or vulnerable ‘at risk’ backgrounds.

The Foundation will donate £250,000 over the next 5 years, that’s up to £50 000 a year in funding. Up to 10 bursaries will be issued annually starting from July 2020. Bursary applications open on 14th January in 2020.

Journalist, social media influencer, author and podcaster, Emma Gannon said:

“I am thrilled to be a part of what The Visionary Arts Foundation is doing this year, and the positive impact it continues to have on young adults all around the country. The mentoring schemes are invaluable, and I love how the foundation helps people not only discover the power of their own voice but amplifies it further.”

Poet and founder of the Caramel Film Club, Be Manzini, also commented:

“There is such synergy between The Visionary Arts Foundation and the creative activism that has been the pulse of my work over the last decade. It is imperative that we find innovative yet practical ways to continue to change the landscape when it comes to diversity and inclusion in arts and entertainment. To have a fund of £50,000 per year over 5 years for passion projects inspired by individuals aged 18-29 is a wonderful and rare initiative.

I am also very proud to be part of this year’s awards judging panel. As the Director of Caramel Film Club, as well as a film maker and poet myself, I very much understand the barriers faced in the industry and this type of support and spotlighting is a way to circumvent those. I attended last year’s awards ceremony and it was a magical and memorable evening… I have every confidence that in its second year the Visionary Honours Awards will go from strength to strength and are set to become an exciting and important annual date in our arts and entertainment calendar.”

The Visionary Honours Awards will take place on 18th March at the Ham Yard Hotel. Tickets are open to the public and available here: https://visionaryarts.org.uk/product-category/awards/

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