Sheffield resident recognised by the National Lottery for keeping the arts alive

A Sheffield resident will appear in a unique photography exhibition after being recognised by the National Lottery for her dedication and devotion to keeping the arts alive and accessible for all during the pandemic.
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Moji Elufowoju, aged 57, from Heeley, is the founder and artistic director of the Utopia Theatre, which she formed in 2012.

The digital exhibition marks the first time in history eight of the UK’s most iconic art galleries - including London’s National Portrait Gallery, Ikon Gallery in Birmingham, The MAC in Belfast and the British Film Institute (BFI) - have come together in this way.

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Mojisola Elufowoju who is featured in the new exhibitionMojisola Elufowoju who is featured in the new exhibition
Mojisola Elufowoju who is featured in the new exhibition
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The collection, titled ‘The National Lottery’s 2020 Portraits of the People’ celebrates the remarkable individuals, including Moji, who have worked tirelessly during the pandemic to bring creativity, enjoyment and enrichment to people in new ways.

Thirteen powerful and poignant portraits have been created by Chris Floyd, who normally photographs celebrities such as Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Mo Farah and Victoria Beckham.

The exhibition was born out of National Lottery insights which indicate a ‘domestic renaissance’ in people enjoying the arts at home with almost two in three of those saying it helped their state of mind during the crisis, and more than half believing the positive impacts on their wellbeing would be long-lasting

“I founded Utopia Theatre around 2012 after I finished at drama school, and I didn’t want to wait around to be offered a job,” said Moji.

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“It has grown from strength to strength since then. A lot of people say it grew from the passion I have for it.”

Moji has worked across a series of funded projects to create and promote work by and for black artists, for audiences in Sheffield and beyond.

The lack of representation is a key element in her work. At a time when theatre is suffering, Moji believes that attracting more diverse audiences will help to secure the future of mainstream theatre, now battling for survival in the wake of COVID-19.

Moji has been using funding to provide virtual training workshops for directing, design, music and poetry during lockdown, which will now continue for a further six months. “

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.