Nominations announced for the 2024 Visionary Arts Awards

Visionary Arts Awards 2024

The nominees for the fifth annual Visionary Arts Awards have been announced. Winners will be decided by public vote, and winners revealed online on the 31st March 2024.

The Visionary Arts Awards are the UK’s only awards show dedicated to celebrating social impact through popular culture and the arts, including creatives, activists and community workers who have inspired change.

From diversity and inclusion, to mental health awareness and the climate crisis, the Visionary Arts Awards showcases that people can create a positive change through film, television, music, literature, podcasts, theatre and their social media platforms.

DOCUMENTARY OF THE YEAR

Stamped From The Beginning

David Harewood on Blackface

At its peak, The Black and White Minstrel Show was watched by a Saturday night audience of more than 20 million people. David Harewood goes on a mission to understand the roots of this strange, intensely problematic cultural form: where did the show come from, and what made it popular for so long?

With the help of historians, actors and musicians, David uncovers how, at its core, blackface minstrelsy was simply an attempt to make racism into an art form – and can be traced back to a name and a date.

Still – A Michael J. Fox Movie

Follows the life of beloved actor and advocate Michael J. Fox, exploring his personal and professional triumphs and travails, and what happens when an incurable optimist confronts an incurable disease.

Stamped From The Beginning

Using innovative animation and expert insights, this documentary based on Ibram X. Kendi’s bestseller explores the history of racist ideas in America.

David Holmes: The Boy Who Lived

A coming-of-age documentary of Daniel Radcliffe and his stunt double David Holmes, whose close friendship endures a life-changing accident.

“The film is a coming-of-age story of stuntman David Holmes, a prodigious teenage gymnast from Essex, England, who is selected to play Daniel Radcliffe’s stunt double in the first Harry Potter film, when Daniel is just eleven. Over the next ten years, the two form an inextricable bond, but on the penultimate film a tragic accident on set leaves David paralyzed with a debilitating spinal injury, turning his world upside down. As Daniel and his closest stunt colleagues rally to support David and his family in their moment of need, it is David’s extraordinary spirit of resilience that becomes their greatest source of strength and inspiration.”

The documentary features candid personal footage from the last decade, including behind-the-scenes from Holmes’ stunt work and intimate interviews with David, Daniel Radcliffe, friends, family and former crew from the Harry Potter films.

Roman Kemp: The Fight For Young Lives

On a daily basis, Roman Kemp is contacted by young people who are struggling. With people turning to him for advice, he’s questioning whether or not there is a worsening mental health crisis and asking if these young people should be offered more support in their own communities.

This documentary follows Roman as he immerses himself in schools, youth centres and treatment settings around the country, meets with experts and charities, and visits the Houses of Parliament to try to understand the potential solutions for improving the mental health of young people in the UK today.

Another Body

Another Body follows a college student’s search for answers and justice after she discovers deepfake pornography of herself circulating online.

 

FILM OF THE YEAR

Killers of the Flower Moon
Polite Society

The film follows teenager Ria Khan, who struggles to save her older sister, Lena, after she decides to give up on her dreams and get married.

Pretty Red Dress

Set against the backdrop of South London and humming with the energy of iconic Tina Turner hits, Pretty Red Dress follows a family tested to their limit when Travis (Natey Jones), fresh out of jail, is found wearing a dress by his partner Candice (Alexandra Burke) and secretive teenage daughter Kenisha. The family is sent spinning by this startling discovery and the truths that remain.

Rustin

Bayard Rustin, advisor to Martin Luther King Jr., dedicates his life to the quest for racial equality, human rights and worldwide democracy. However, as an openly gay Black man, he is all but erased from the civil rights movement he helped build.

Past Lives

Nora and Hae Sung, two deeply connected childhood friends, are wrest apart after Nora’s family emigrates from South Korea. Decades later, they are reunited for one fateful week as they confront destiny, love and the choices that make a life.

Earth Mamma

With two children in foster care, Gia, a pregnant single mother pitted against the system, fights to reclaim her family. In her close-knit Bay Area community, she works to make a life for herself and her kids.

 

TV SHOW OF THE YEAR

Doctor Who

Doctor Who 60th Anniversary

For the  60th anniversary of Doctor Who, three specials were aired. In the last Finney plays Rose, the daughter of one time Doctor Who companion Donna (played by Catherine Tate). Rose is a teenage trans girl, just as Finney was when they filmed the episode last year.

Finney is a part of the ongoing effort by BBC to make Doctor Who a more inclusive series that will hopefully continue to act as a beacon of hope for the younger generation.

As Finney notes, her being “seen as a trans person in something so huge as Doctor Who” is a massively important casting decision in an industry where roles for transgender actors are still lacking.

Dreaming Whilst Black

Kwabena is an aspiring film-maker working a dead-end job in recruitment. When he bumps into Amy, an old friend from film school who has just returned from three years in Nigeria, she offers to pass his script, Jamaica Road, to the development team at the production company where she works.

But life isn’t as simple as all that, and Kwabena may have to make some sacrifices in order to pursue his dream.

The Change

Fifty-year-old mum of two Linda isn’t exactly thrilled when she finds out she’s menopausal. In an attempt to claim her identity back, she leaves her life behind to live in a caravan in the Forest of Dean.

Three Little Birds

Written by Sir Lenny Henry, inspired by his mother’s stories, Three Little Birds is set in 1957 and follows sisters Leah and Chantrelle and their virtuous, bible-loving acquaintance, Hosanna, as they board a cruise ship from Jamaica bound for a new life in England in search of new beginnings. They all have different reasons for leaving their family and friends behind in Clarendon, Jamaica, and soon discover life in England’s not all it’s cracked up to be, not least the change in weather.

Everything Now

After months in recovery for an eating disorder, 16-year-old Mia devises a bucket list of quintessential teen experiences to make up for lost time.

Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story

In Netflix’s Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story the young version of the eponymous Queen is played by mixed-race actor India Ria Amarteifio. While the Shonda Rhimes series is known for its colour-blind casting, in Queen Charlotte, the character’s ethnicity is very much of the plot.

“I did say she had Moor blood, ma’am,” a courtier tells Princess Augusta, the mother of Charlotte’s husband-to-be King George III, who expresses concerns about her skin tone. (The term “Moor” was initially used in the medieval period to describe a variety of North African groups, later becoming an amorphous term for non-white inhabitants of Europe that does not reflect any specific ethnicity.)

It’s the first time a person of colour, the viewer learns, has held such a high position in the royal court. The fate of Charlotte, and the fate of the ’Ton, are inexplicably intertwined as a new multicultural order emerges.

 

PLAY/MUSICAL OF THE YEAR

Strange Loop

School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play

Queen Bee Paulina and her crew excitedly await the arrival of the Miss Ghana pageant recruiter. It’s clear that Paulina is in top position to take the title until her place is threatened by Ericka – a beautiful and talented new transfer student. As the friendship group’s status quo is upended, who will be chosen for Miss Ghana and at what cost?

Bursting with hilarity and joy, this award-winning comedy explores the universal similarities (and glaring differences) facing teenage girls around the world.

Grenfell

A powerful new verbatim play from the testimony of residents at the heart of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.

Six years on, interviews conducted with a group of survivors and bereaved reveal the impact of the multiple failures that led to a national disaster, asking: how do we stop this ever happening again?

Created from these interviews by Gillian Slovo (Another World: Losing our Children to Islamic State), the play is co-directed by Phyllida Lloyd (The Donmar Shakespeare Trilogy) and Anthony Simpson-Pike (The P Word).

Startling and deeply moving, it explores the courage and resilience of an ill-treated community and their continued campaign for justice.

Strange Loop

Michael R Jackson’s “meta” musical is as smart and slippery as it was hailed to be on Broadway. A Black, queer, New York theatre usher (Kyle Ramar Freeman) is writing a play about a Black queer man who, in turn, is writing a play about a Black queer man. So it draws its circles within circles, looping impressively without any contrivance, although there is great intellectual and emotional complication within the loops.

Woodhill

Three men at Woodhill prison are dead. The families demand answers. This is a call to arms about the crisis facing prisons.

Gut-punching choreography and unflinching beats shine a light on the hidden story of HMP Woodhill. Lyrically told in their own words, three families investigate what happened to their boys. What they discover is so haunting, it turns their world upside down.

An explosive true story by multi-award-winning LUNG.

The Little Big Things

An extraordinary true story about an ordinary young man.

When one moment changes everything, Henry finds himself split between a past he no longer recognises and a future he can’t even begin to imagine. As he learns to navigate this new world, can he find a way to take control of his life, and keep his family from falling apart?

This uplifting and colourful new musical is a life-affirming story of courage, transformation and a reminder that it’s the little things that really do matter the most.

The Effect

Lucy Prebble’s critically acclaimed play returned to the National Theatre in a bold new production directed by Jamie Lloyd.

Hearts and minds racing, Connie (Taylor Russell) and Tristan (Paapa Essiedu) are falling for each other fast. But is their sudden and intoxicating chemistry real, or a side effect of a new antidepressant?

As two young volunteers in a clinical drug trial, their illicit romance poses startling dilemmas for the supervising doctors.

 

BOOK OF THE YEAR

Munroe Bergdorf

Decolonising My Body – Afua Hirsch

Upon getting her first tattoo at 40 years old, award-winning journalist Afua Hirsch embarked on a journey to reclaim her body from the colonial ideas of purity, adornment and ageing she – and many of us – absorbed while growing up.

Informed by research from around the world, Afua examines at how individual and collective notions of what is beautiful are constructed or stripped away from us.

Transitional – Munroe Bergdorf

In Transitional, activist and writer Munroe Bergdorf draws on her own experience and theory from key experts, change-makers and activists to reveal just how deeply ingrained transitioning is in human experience. This is a book to help bring us closer to a shared consciousness: a powerful guide to how our differences can be harnessed as a tool to heal, build community, and construct a better society.

You Are Not Alone – Cariad Lloyd

Inspired by her award-winning podcast, GriefcastYou Are Not Alone is Cariad Lloyd’s frank, funny and compassionate exploration of grief.

I’m Black So You Don’t Have to Be: A Memoir in Eight Lives – Colin Grant

This is a memoir told through a series of intimate portraits, including of Grant’s mother Ethlyn, his father Bageye, his sister Selma, and his great uncle Percy. Each character we meet is navigating their own path. Each life informs Grant’s own shifting sense of his identity. Collectively, these stories build into an unforgettable testimony of black British experience.

Snowflake

Take a deep-dive into some of the most harmful mental health stereotypes with mental health advocate and author Lucy Nichol.

Lucy exposes 10 of the most harmful mental health stereotypes and explores the impact of social media, the power of the press and how mental health is represented in popular culture.

With the help of experts and the voices of those affected by these harmful perspectives, Lucy makes a case for how we can dismantle stigma once and for all.

Hanging Out: The Radical Power of Killing Time – Sheila Liming

A smart and empowering book about the simple art of hanging out … and of taking back our social lives from the deadening whirl of contemporary life.

Almost every day it seems that our world becomes more fractured, more digital, and more chaotic. Sheila Liming has the answer: we need to hang out more.

The book makes an intelligent case for the importance of this most casual of social structures, and shows us how just getting together can be a potent act of resistance all on its own.

 

SONG OF THE YEAR

Against The War

It Must Change – ANOHNI and the Johnsons

This was the first single off Anohni’s 6th album My Back Was a Bridge for You to Cross. The album cover is a tribute to queer rights pioneer Marsha P. Johnson and the music was inspired by Marvin Gaye’s 1971 classic protest album What’s Going On.  This mournful tune confronts the cruel realities faced by the LQBTQ+ community while holding out hope for change.

Against The War – Beans on Toast

This tune was originally released as a single in February 2023. It appeared on the UK single-songwriter December 1st released album The Toothpaste and Tube (since 2009 he has released an album on his Birthday). Like many of his past tunes, it is a poignant indictment of war. He makes it clear where he stands on the issue.

Run, Run, Run – McKinley Dixon

This tune off the socially conscious rapper’s album Beloved! Paradise! Jazz!? is intended to be more figurative than literal. Even though on a surface level it could work as a critique of gun culture, metaphorically it relates the story of a black boy who navigates through different stages of his life. It is a rousing tale of perseverance.

A&W – Lana Del Ray

This tune has nothing to do with burgers and rootbeer, instead, it is an abbreviation for ‘American Whore’. Not explicitly political, but it is an insightful commentary on issues such as sexism, body image, and rape culture.

Namesake – Noname

Noname opens up about her criticism of JAY-Z after lyrics from her song Namesake went viral. She explained her intent behind the controversial song.

“I don’t hate this man. I don’t know JAY-Z. He’s a total stranger,” detailed Noname. “We just have ideological differences. That’s all, which the song was just talking about a lot of things, but definitely complacency from all of us. I think the names got the most focus.”

She continued to break down the lyrics on Namesake detailing, “You have so many of us artists who also use our brand and our celebrity to pair with it, to support it, to constantly boost it… these are the types of concessions that we consistently make as artists and that was the whole point of me even pointing out on that same song that I performed for Coachella, which I have critiques for.”

“I said I wouldn’t perform for them, and somehow I still fell in line. Yeah. Yeah. Won’t be going back though, but yes, I have made similar moves in my own career where I’ve contradicted myself, where I’ve done things or supported institutions that I don’t really believe in and that’s why I called the song Namesake, because even though I’m saying all this stuff, I am the same. We are all one in the same,” she concluded.

Don’t Stop – Greenpeace

Don’t Stop is a song and short film from Greenpeace in collaboration with a host of incredible artists.

This is not your typical charity single. It’s a call to arms, an impassioned plea to take action today, for the sake of tomorrow.

Multi-award-winning producer Fraser T Smith – who has worked with everyone from Stormzy and Adele to Kano and Drake – has created a gripping reinvention of the classic Fleetwood Mac song Don’t Stop.

Don’t Stop shines a light on the fight of our lives – to save our planet from climate breakdown. It exposes the grotesque behaviour of oil companies enjoying record profits while our world burns. But ultimately it is a story of hope: it points to the power in all of us to stop this recklessness.

You can vote now in all 6 categories and follow our Insta @VisionaryArtsTV, and you’ll be entered into our prize draw for the chance to win a night’s stay at the five star Karma Sanctum Hotel in London’s West End, and a pair of theatre tickets to see For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When The Hue Gets Too Heavy (winner of Best Play in last year’s awards).