DYCP Funding success stories: POV Diaries w/ Rebekah Williams

Interested in securing funding for your creative project? Rebekah shares her experience applying for and securing the DYCP fund with tips on how to prep your application

28 March 2023

What is your name and where are you based?

My name is Rebekah Williams and I am a South London-based Socio-political Photographer, Facilitator, Producer, Urban Forager, Capoeirista, Herbal medicine enthusiast and Community Wellness Builder.

Tell us about your current project, what are you working on right now?

I am currently very fortunate enough to be in Brazil working on a photographic research project exploring the experiences and legacies of women from the UK and Brazil in Capoeira.

Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian martial art that connects elements of dance, acrobatics, fighting and music. It was born in Angola and later found itself in Brazil through the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The practice has a long, varied history rooted in resistance and survival for the enslaved to protect and free themselves from colonial agents.

I myself discovered Capoeira in 2018, and since then, it has become a deeply transformative way for me to connect to my body and my ancestral lineage in Africa and the Caribbean. It has also helped me find a sense of community, belonging and spirituality that is rooted in Black culture.

Through my research and lived experience as a Capoeirista, I've established that women are often victims of sexual violence, abuse and ridicule within communities worldwide, and particularly in Brazil. These issues are rarely discussed or addressed Yet women continue to be overlooked, undermined, and seen as inferior to our male counterparts as we attempt to navigate an incredibly toxic, masculine environment.

So much so that women Capoeira groups have formed, and feminism in Capoeira has become a frequent topic of discussion. However, there is sparse visual work and historical archives that capture these experiences or the breadth of incredible contributions that women of all levels have made to the practice. This means that many of these groups go undocumented in Brazil and the UK.

I want both my research and my future visual projects to replenish the archive, ensuring that these women and their stories have a place in history. I want to inspire others of all ages to speak out, connect with their roots and step into their power. This is especially important to encourage more women of the African Diaspora to get involved in this important practice.

Why did you decide to apply for DYCP funding?

Before applying for DYCP (Develop Your Creative Practice), I was quite unaware of what funding opportunities were out there for creatives. Many I had seen were geared toward organisations or collectives. However, my partner had mentioned that Arts Council England had a fund for artists who wanted to develop their creative practice.

I then started to meet artists who had applied and successfully received this grant, which led me to research further into the eligibility requirements and see if this was the right opportunity for me.

I had been thinking about doing this research for a while, however, I felt as though I had become stagnant within my photography practice. Through a collaborative lens, with communities always at the centre of my work, I wanted to investigate how I could elevate my understanding of image-making and explore how different mediums could help me bring stories that examine the intersections of race, class and climate justice to life in more nuanced and experimental ways.

I'm keen to leave digital photography behind and reconnect with analogue image-making, particularly experimenting more with medium format photography from a documentary-style perspective.

After reading the guidelines, I felt my creative development plans were a great fit for the DYCP fund, and so, I decided to go ahead and begin the application process.

Walk us through the application process, what was it like? Were any parts challenging and if so, how did you overcome them?

As someone who finds it hard to articulate what I am thinking into words, and who has slight ADHD, I was relieved to discover that ACE offers access support. This allows you to apply alongside a support worker, who will help you format and write the application.

I became aware of the Instagram page @fundingwithmina through a colleague at A New Direction. (Mina frequently offers support for DYCP and other funding opportunities for UK-based creatives.) I then sent a message to Mina asking if she had the capacity to help me with the upcoming DYCP deadline. After she confirmed, we had a short conversation on the phone, where I told her about my project idea. She was extremely kind and supportive which gave me further confidence to apply. I then sent off an access request to ACE (information on how to do this can be found on their website under DYCP.) Once they had accepted, we got to work on piecing together my application.

The application is comprised of a series of questions with the aim to find out what your proposed idea is, how it will help you develop your personal practice, and why now? I began by brainstorming and making bullet points to answer each question, making sure to read the application questions thoroughly so that I was covering everything that was being asked.

I then sent this to Mina, and on a shared working document we began to refine my answers and reduce the word count. We were in regular contact via email and a few weeks later, my application was in good shape to submit.

Naturally, I did encounter some challenges. Writing applications is no easy thing, even when you have assistance. Funding bodies often require you to speak in a language that is specific to the ways in which they operate. So, it is important to research applications they have accepted in the past and take note if there is a particular way of formatting sentences, including vocabulary or phrasing that they like, in order to increase your chances of success.

The online portal where you upload the application is also very outdated, time-consuming and can be a little confusing. So, I had to carve out enough time before the deadline to set up a profile and wait for it to be verified.

All in all, writing applications can be a bit stressful at times and a maze to navigate alone, but the incredible support and assistance I had from Mina meant that I felt confident moving forward with my proposed idea and how I had articulated my plans in the application.

How has working with A New Direction or Freelance Survival Guide helped you with this opportunity?

Working with A New Direction on the Freelance Survival Guide helped me greatly with this opportunity. I became aware of the support service that Mina @fundingwithmina offers from a colleague who I was co-programming with at the time and was fortunate enough to be the lead facilitator for the Freelance Survival Guide programme itself. This meant that I was able to be in each session supporting and gaining a deeper insight into the DYCP application process.

Each Freelance Survival Guide session with Mina took the participants through the application process step by step, demystifying it in an accessible structured and clear way that made the whole process less overwhelming.

My team at A New Direction were also incredibly supportive of my decision to apply for the fund, which I will always be grateful for. I felt as though my desire to expand and deepen my creative practice was held and received with love, understanding and care.

If someone asked you why they should sign up for this opportunity, what would you tell them?

I would tell them that this three-step opportunity to work with Mina to help transform your idea into a DYCP funding application is one of a kind and should not be taken for granted. The world of funding is such a closed, gated community which can be incredibly difficult to navigate if you are not accustomed to it.

It is also extremely difficult to find any practical guidance on how to apply for DYCP let alone free 1-1 support. So my advice would be to take advantage of this opportunity to its maximum potential, attend all of the sessions and ask questions. Good luck.