FLOURISH is an intergenerational, reciprocal, mentoring scheme stemming from discussions around age and influence in dance.

It asks: how can we support artists at all stages in their careers, recognising that so many support structures are focused on young people only? How can we disrupt assumptions about hierarchical systems of power and knowledge increasing lineally with age?

We aim to more actively bring different kinds of lived experience to the foreground, support leadership and agency and offer support through paid reflective time.

We hope to facilitate connections which are based on mutual care and understanding of how artists’ needs change over time. We are interested in how being in a relationship of mutual support with someone you are not necessarily naturally close to generationally can be a learning in itself.

In 2020, we ran Stage 1 of this scheme as a pilot with artists Bisola Bello and ‘Funmi Adewole Elliott as co-mentors, both of whom had led classes in ID’s programme.  Equality in the relationship was asserted from the outset. This meant that ‘Funmi and Bisola mentored each other, and in a sense were both mentors and mentees simultaneously. In 2021 a second pairing with Jo Fong and Nikhil Vyas worked together. Detailed conversations with ‘Funmi and Bisola, and with Jo and Nikhil, together with freelance evaluation consultant Mita Pujara and Heni Hale have informed a set of guidelines for reciprocal mentoring across generations. In 2022/3 FLOURISH supported two further pairs of artists to mentor each other – Linzy Nakorn with Raquel Meseguer and Shakeera Ahmun with Ebony Robinson. In 2023/4, FLOURISH is supporting Xan Dye and Jo Bannon to work together. Learning from this mentoring project will be shared post-evaluation in the coming months.

FLOURISH is supported through public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

If we are talking about equality and decolonisation, and if we are talking about community, which we talk a lot about in the black sector, how do we continue and pass things down and transmit? It is by creating these intergenerational links. And sometimes the older generation just need to listen and understand that what works for them will not work for the next generation, because the circumstances we lived through do not exist anymore.

‘Funmi Adewole Elliott