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Meet the artist: Stephanie Francis-Shanahan

A group of people stand in a row in front of a bookshelf with three people kneeling on the floor in front, they are all facing forward to the camera smiling
18 Nov 2021
3 min read

We chatted with Stephanie Francis-Shanahan, an artist who took part in our Young Visual Arts Group and Young Curators about her experience.

How have these programmes supported you in making work?

‘I’m from a very working-class background and I used it as my way to have some structure, to have a community. I had no experience whatsoever of any kind of institution before doing it. For me, it was completely transformative. I don’t think my progression of how I made my work would have existed without these programmes. It’s completely made me able to exist, artistically.’

Did you find the programmes helped build your confidence?

‘Being chosen and accepted, it’s like validation of your work and creativity. I was applying for a million and one things. I was used to constant nos. So knowing I was still part of the programme was really crucial at that stage. I just think they allow people to have their own little platform to stand on and meet other people that also need that platform and you can kind of grow together in that space.’

What was one thing you felt you gained from the programme?

‘It really taught me that I get a lot out of the community-led, young person world. This is quite a crucial part of how I see my work. It’s not being an insular artist in a bubble making stuff for posh, white people in Mayfair. As much as I want to make work for myself, I want to exist in an art world in which you’re also trying to campaign and make space.’

How does being creative support you in your day-to-day life?

‘I’m dyslexic, dyspraxic and unconfirmed ADHD. Being creative was always my way to get out of a trap, to process whatever’s been happening, see that there could be a way out and that maybe one day I can get paid for this. I just think it’s vital for mental health, for expression, for kids in tiny flats that haven’t got anything else but maybe a sketchbook and some pencils. For me, that’s where art is completely rooted.’

How important are accessible development opportunities to you, and what should be the role of arts centres in offering these opportunities?

‘I think they’re the most valuable things to exist in the art world. Without them there’s an entire generation whose work will never be seen. For me, you’re used to thinking that people think you’re not valuable to the world. I think institutions have a duty to provide them. It’s no good being vocal and supportive of an artist of a marginalised group that existed 100 years ago if you’re not going to support those very voices that are right in front of you.’


About Young Creatives

Each year, our young creatives programmes offer mentoring, peer support and work opportunities for young people interested in pursuing a career in the creative industries.

This year our Young Creatives programmes engage more than 60 poets, film programmers, visual artists, musicians and researchers aged 14-25, free of charge, which is crucial for including young people who face additional barriers to professional training.

Please donate today through our appeal to help make opportunities available for young talents like Stephanie.

About our appeal

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We rely on the money we raise through ticket sales, commercial activities and fundraising to deliver our arts and learning programme. It forms more than 60% of our income. Show your support by making a donation and help inspire more people to discover and love the arts.