In the first phase of an ambitious plan to empower the next generation to participate in the city’s fast developing creative economy over the next four years towards its bid for UK City of Culture 2025, Southampton today announces the first cohort of grant recipients in its new programme, OUR TIME.

The aim of OUR TIME is to unlock the creative talent that exists in the city amongst 18-25 year olds by providing grants and mentoring opportunities, towards the development of sustainable careers in the creative industries.

Ten young people from Southampton have been selected for the initial OUR TIME pilot programme. Each will receive an initial £500 cash grant and access to professional support. They are:

Katie Baker, 23, theme park sculptor

Dominic Green, 20, writer & performer

Ellie Kinsley, 22, ceramicist

Maria Lavranciuc, 21, handbag maker & knitter

Max Lystor, 19, artist

Somee Malik, 22, dancer & teacher

Georgia Penny, 25, photographer

Klemensas Remeika, 19, songwriter

Dylan Scott-Bennett, 19, graphic designer

Goncalo Valle, 21, filmmaker

On hearing the news Ellie Kinsely, said

“Getting the bursary means the absolute world to me! To be recognised like this for my work makes me feel so inspired to continue working hard and investing in myself. I plan to purchase a new studio quality potter's wheel, allowing me to improve my work and skill set tenfold.”

Somee Milik added “Getting this chance has been an absolute blessing, having others believe in my dreams as well as myself is the best feeling, and I will use every penny to further my ideas and start making my dreams a reality. Thank you so much!”

Klemensas Remeik, on hearing the news hearing, said “I got very excited. It felt lovely to be chosen and acknowledged for my work, as it really paves the way for me to do more of what I love. I went to sing afterwards! With this bursary I will buy the essential tools for writing and recording my music.”

Max Lystor added “I want to improve the tools I currently use - new oil paint and recording equipment would drastically boost the technical quality of my work. Additionally, I’m excited about being able to diversify the range of my work, I plan to experiment with print and sculpture. I am ecstatic that the OUR TIME project is supporting me in my practice. Thanks to them, the scope and quality of my vision feels that much closer.”

The launch of the initiative was supported by local rapper, artist and influencer Tyrone, whose experiences as a young person in Southampton have helped him to develop his own successful creative career. The young people were selected from an open submission by a panel composed of members of the Southampton 2025 UK City of Culture Bid Steering Group. OUR TIME complements a city-wide programme of opportunities for young people in the cultural sector delivered through the Southampton Cultural Education Partnership and supported by Southampton’s leading cultural organisations across the city.

Claire Whitaker OBE, Southampton 2025 UK City of Culture Bid Director, said today: “Our young people deserve every opportunity to make the very best of their lives. It’s urgent that we recognise their special challenges at this very tough time. As we put forward our bid, the whole city is coming together around our belief that Southampton’s young people represent hope for all our futures. This is just the beginning. Congratulations to our first winners. They are all exceptional.”

OUR TIME is supported by Arts Council England and designed to complement the work of a host of Southampton-based organisations committed to improving the opportunities for and skills of young people currently taking place across the city, such as City Eye’s Under-16 Development programme, The Agency Project, Mayflower Engage, Artswork, ZoieLogic and the work of the Southampton Cultural Education Partnership. The initiative also supports the city’s ambition to become a UNICEF child-friendly city.

If you would like to follow the bid and the OUR TIME project you can keep in touch through the Bid’s social media Facebook, Instagram and Twitter