Creative artists Naseem Syed and Plamedi Santima-Akiso have been awarded Our Voice Network bursaries, sponsored by Awen Cultural Trust.

Our Voice Network exists to empower, develop, and platform artists of the Global Majority through professional development opportunities, showcasing events, and bursaries. The bursary programme, now in its second year, is led by artist Krystal S Lowe.

Naseem and Plamedi were chosen through an open selection process, which set out to find artists with a great passion for their art-form and a clear vision of what they hope to achieve. They will be supported by Awen with free rehearsal and development space within its theatres, ongoing mentoring, paid performance and workshop opportunities and an end-of-year showcase event.

Naseem Syed (Naz) is a proud Welsh, Iranian, socially engaged visual artist. She is passionate about craftivism, community and spreading kindness through creativity. Through her pom-pom activism recently seen at Riverfront Newport, WMC Cardiff and Between the Trees Festival Bridgend, Naz has celebrated Persian culture whilst raising awareness of the injustice against women in Iran, challenging people to explore the concept and act of kindness.

Plamedi Santima-Akiso is a Congolese-born, Wales-based dance artist and choreographer specialising in African Dance through her dance company Afro-Jam Cardiff. Her work focuses on educating about African cultures whilst enabling dancers to explore various Afro-dance styles and develop their technique. Plamedi has recently performed at Afro Fest Bristol, Dathliad Cymru-Affrica festival, Butetown Carnival, Diversity in Space and Style, London, and featured on ITV Wales.

Awen Cultural Trust’s Chief Executive, Richard Hughes, said:

“At Awen, we are committed to doing what we can to support the known under-representation of artists of the Global Majority within our sector, by working with allies to remove barriers wherever we can. I would like to offer my congratulations to Plamedi and Naseem on their successful bursary applications and I look forward to meeting them both and following their development with Krystal and the One Voice Network over the coming year.”

Krystal added:

“I’m thrilled for the 2023 Our Voice Bursary to be partnering with Awen Cultural Trust to offer support, development, resources, connection, and paid opportunities to these two incredible artists. Plamedi and Naseem are brilliant artists and people and I’m looking forward to getting to know them and their work more over this next year.”