Niche on Demand (NoD) Founders; Sabrina Clarke-Okwubanego and Zena Tuitt (Image: Supplied)
Executive producers Sabrina Clarke and Zena Tuitt of global studio Niche on Demand (NoD) have created a new funding source exclusively for Black creatives. They are turning the industry on its head by giving audiences the chance to be part of developing the content they’d like to see, aiming to raise £100 million by 2030.
Niche on Demand is an equitable studio for Black creatives where they can develop and tell their stories. The fund was created in response to persistent feedback from those entering and working in the industry of exploitative methods. Lack of funding and access to commissioners who are unable to comprehend Black stories beyond trauma and violence.
“Niche on Demand is a place for outliers to create and for the power to be in the hands of the people” says NoD co-founder Sabrina Clarke. “We demonstrate the art of the possible and the collective, using business and technology as enablers for art.”
Audiences will be introduced to artists from across the world in a series of rounds. Each artist will present the projects they are creating that are ready to be developed and produced. The inaugural round amplifies the work of media entrepreneur Terry Jervis, director and creative Kanso Ogbolu and writer and producer Marie James.
So, what makes NoD’s approach so attractive to creatives?
Marie explains “I have been supremely impressed by Zena’s work executive producing the play, ‘J’Ouvert’ at local south London Theatre503 which was later picked up by Sonia Friedman for the West End.”
“When coupled with Sabrina’s business and creative decisiveness, I trust NOD’s formidable team to support the development of The Jamaicans at the international and financial level it deserves”.
The general public also become part of the solution through their contribution. Their involvement will ultimately drive change, giving creatives the chance to produce work they love and, most importantly, allowing them to retain their artistic rights.
So why now and how does Niche on Demand differ from others with similar offerings?
“We want to increase the opportunity for the Michaela Coels of this world to be heard and own their art. Ownership is the fastest route to equity in the industry. Technological advancements and the growth of social media means that you no longer need to wait to be discovered by the major studios. Your commissioner is your audience and that audience is global” says co-founder Zena Tuitt.
Over the last three years, NoD have supported the development of over 16 Black creatives around the world. With capital, connections and business know-how totaling almost £100,000. With a larger pot the possibilities increase, giving creators a safe space that understands their cultural positioning and allows them to be limitless. The feedback from black creatives in a survey conducted by Niche on Demand in 2021 seems to agree with the approach that Clarke and Tuitt are taking. One participant commented:
“Fu…k traditional routes they have stunted the growth and cultural expression of Black people for generations.” says one past participant. “Non-traditional routes remove gatekeepers and allow us more scope and space to tell our stories the way we want and experiment with different payment models. For instance when I made my film, I was offered 10k and no rights to my footage despite the fact I had invested 35k at that point. I am still sitting on it and I am the only person in the world with the content.”