Meet Trinity Laban’s 2020 Innovation Award Winners

7 Jul 2020

Image credit: Adam Hypki

Leading London Conservatoire Trinity Laban continues to champion creative entrepreneurship through a unique award that sees students pitch artistic and business projects to an expert panel and win professional mentoring and seed funding.

Now in its second year, the Innovation Award enables final-year undergraduates from across the Conservatoire’s Faculties to access professional development support. It forms part of Trinity Laban’s strategy to help emerging artists find their voice and innovate in the cultural industries, particularly important as emerging artists respond to the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Earlier this year shortlisted applicants had their chance to pitch to Artistic Director of Tomorrow’s Warriors and Trinity Laban Honorary Fellow Gary Crosby OBE, co-founder of Independence Dance and Trinity Laban alum Kirstie Alexander and Trinity Laban Principal Anthony Bowne in a bid to win one of six awards.

Trinity Laban is delighted to announce that the 2020 winners are:

· Gabriel Askew for Big Smoke Brass UK
· Hayley Huggett for Dotty’s Dilema
· Ben Leigh Grosart for Root
· Jessica Price for Eruption
· Laura Rønning Engholm for The Homeground Project
· Hannah Wallace for Groundmarks

Panellist Gary Crosby OBE commented: “This award enables young artists who are testing their muscle and innovating to develop their voice. It carries on a great tradition of supporting talent that is really pushing boundaries from Trinity Laban. It is a real gift for a group of artists to be awarded it. The standard was really high this year with some serious cross art forms, which made it very enjoyable.”

Fellow panellist Kirstie Alexander commented: “The music and dance sectors can only remain vibrant if small-scale projects by independent artists thrive, and the Trinity Laban Innovation Award offers crucial mentoring and financial support that allows awardees to realise their ideas and contribute to this vibrancy. The shortlisted projects were impressive both for their diversity and their originality, and the awardees in particular presented artistic visions that were inspiring.”

The diverse and innovative proposals span environmental issues, boundary-pushing genre development, and the power of the arts for positive change in the community.

Funded by Trinity Laban’s Higher Education Innovation Fund allocation, each winning project receives an award of £3000 to use on development and will benefit from a specially tailored mentorship programme delivered by acclaimed Trinity Laban alumni: · Will Dutta – curating composer and Head of Artist Development at Sound and Music, the national charity for new music

· Stella Howard – participatory dance artist and facilitator
· Georgi Mottram – singer and Director of leading classical crossover group Ida Girls London
· Matthew Roberts – trumpeter, composer, conductor and Member of Gentleman’s Dub Club
· Carolyn Roy – London-based dancer, writer and teacher
·Jessica Santer – Head of Creative Learning at Southbank Centre

Communications and Alumni Relations Manager and Innovation Award Co-founder Lucy Nicholson commented –

“Trinity Laban alumni have hugely successful careers across the creative arts industry. Last year’s mentors gave valuable guidance and support to the winners and we are delighted to have six more talented alumni to share their insights and expertise with this year’s winners.”

Designed to help students transitioning between life at Trinity Laban and launching a sustainable career in the performing arts, the award has already supported six projects. Last year’s winners have achieved remarkable things, contributing to the UK’s rich cultural landscape:

· violinist Matthew Crisp is working to introduce youth orchestra musicians to the power of music in community settings.

· composer Toby Carswell and percussionist Rhys Davies established The Public Bungalow, a vibrant ensemble of young professional artists whose sophisticated arrangements re-imagine pop music with a fusion twist. With an extensive roster of artists, the project gives many musicians the opportunity to record, perform and work on their craft.

· jazz vocalist Sahra Gure created and self-released an album of original works with three accompanying music videos that has been widely recognised by the industry including BBC, Clash Magazine and Gilles Peterson.

· all-female dance collective Mass Hysteria collaborated with a range of artists such as fashion designers, musicians and film makers to present work at Tate Exchange in February 2020 and were recently commissioned by Trinity Laban to create ‘in this. net’ as part of digital campaign #SeflIsolationCreation.

· James Layton’s ‘Into the Ocean’ is an integrated concert and recording series that highlights the work of emerging composers. He has commissioned new work for American violist Stephen Upshaw and is producing an album that will be released later this year.

· Flautist and conductor Megan Storer established Cinematic Syncopations Orchestra as a platform for graduate players in London and to introduce a young audience to orchestral music through the performance of film scores. Following their inaugural concert, she is

currently refining plans for a series of projects over the next two years and intends to establish the orchestra as a registered charity.

Head of CoLab and Innovation Award Co-founder Joe Townsend commented –

“The award fund, which has doubled this year, gives graduates more than just money to realise a project, the mentoring is a two-way learning relationship that provides a safe space for mentors and graduates to bring ideas into action and to help shape the bigger picture of music and dance.

Forward thinking and socially engaged, last year’s awardees are really starting to make a difference and a tribute to their art.” To find out more, visit If you’re interested in studying at Trinity Laban visit