Liverpool artist wins Sky Arts Futures Fund

Performance artist Laurence Payot, based at The Royal Standard Studios in Liverpool, has just won funding to launch an ambitious live-tv artwork called Backstaged. We caught up with Laurence to learn more about her work and her top tips for winning arts funding…

The Double Negative: Hello Laurence, congratulations on winning. Can you tell us who and what the Sky Arts Ignition Futures Fund is for? 

Laurence Payot: SkyArts Ignition is a programme of funding, ran by Sky with Ideastap, a social network for creative people. They have supported fantastic projects, such as Antony Gormley’s fourth plinth, and they’re currently working on a new commission with Tate Liverpool. The Futures Fund is a branch of funding for artists under 30 years old. They funded two artist last year, and three this year.

TDN: Why do you think you won?

LP: It’s hard for me to answer why I have been selected, but there are a few things that definitely helped me to get there. I’m motivated and hard working and I believe that to achieve anything you need passion as much as talent. I sometimes work too much and miss out on other things (not seeing friends and family enough for example) but I feel that this is a sacrifice worth making when I get to turn my ideas into ‘real-life’ projects. Also, my work naturally is about people, and so it tends to attract and speak to people. For me, it’s important to be inclusive, and I think this is something that people value in my work. I think the judges liked my proposal because it blurs the lines between art, theatre, and the media. SkyArts seem to like projects that try to push boundaries, and that’s something I always try to do.

TDN: What did it feel like to have to compete for such a large prize?

LP: A year ago, Ian Brownbill at Metal told me about the fund, and I felt like it was too big of a thing for me to even waste my time applying! But then in February, when I saw that Sky was opening a second round, I thought I’d go for it and gave it my whole.

TDN: How did you feel when you won?

LP: When they rang to say I won, I just couldn’t believe it. It was just too good to be true, and I still feel like I am dreaming. The selection was in three phases: written proposal, phone interview, and interview in London in front of 10 judges, including Gavin Delahunty from Tate Liverpool, Joe Whiley from Radio 2, so I feel a bit like I managed to break all the obstacles, I feel like a winning warrior!

TDN: Can you tell us more about your project Backstaged?

LP: Backstaged will be about pursuing my ongoing research with projects such as Coincidence, The Man Who Was Everywhere, I Thought It Was Real, looking at audiences and social interactions as an artform, and infiltrating everyday moments and places. I am aiming to create some interventions/performances with live TV audiences in order to make the cameras, and the viewers, turn their eyes from centre stage to audiences. TV viewers will see these unexpected actions appearing during mainstream programs, and I hope to capture their reactions. The project will be documented by SkyArts and will be presented as a touring exhibition next year.

TDN: What will you do with the £30,000 funding?

LP: The money will fund Backstaged over one year. It will allow me to spend time on the project, employ people to help me make it happen, buy material for the performances and the creation of artworks related to the project. It will allow me to think big and to take risks.

TDN: What are your top tips for applying for funding?

LP: When I co-directed The Royal Standard, I wrote my first funding application to Arts Council England and I’ve also been on the other side of the table, reading applications we received for the summer residency. My top tips for any kind of applications are:

  • Have a strong idea or project, understand what makes it good, and show that you know what you need to do to make it happen.
  • Keep your application personal (people fund you as a person as well as your idea) and say how it will help you grow on the long term. I think funders/curators/commissioners like to become part of a longer term adventure, not just a one-off project.
  • Be clear and concise: don’t try and use big arty words, because whoever is reading your application will go through lots of them, and won’t be bothered trying to read through the lines. I think it’s always good to use clear titles, bullet points, and things that make your application visually appealing. It shows that you care about the person reading it.

Even when my proposals get turned down, I always find the process useful as it helps me shape my ideas. But my biggest top tip is to just go for it as if you were already a winner!

Do you have a creative project that needs a cash injection? Apply for the Ideas Fund Innovators

Keep up-to-date with Laurence’s work at

Posted on 10/05/2012 by thedoublenegative