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Touchstones is delighted to announce that Riz Ali (They/Them) from our Creative Communities team has been selected by the British Council to be part of the Venice Fellowship Programme. They’ll be heading out in April to spend a month in Venice during the world’s most important art and architecture biennales.

Alongside the practical residency as an Exhibition Ambassador at the British Pavilion, Fellows have the opportunity to develop their own research or practical creative projects and use the Biennale as a platform for artistic and professional development.

Riz Ali says: “I’m a Queer South Asian artist who grew up in the heart of Rochdale in a working-class household. I fell in love with performance art in high school, which led to me studying a BTEC in Performing Arts and then eventually becoming a mature student at university, studying Theatre and Performance Practice. I’ve developed my freelance art practice by exploring how my intersectional identity exists within theatre and creative writing. I now work at Touchstones Rochdale as their Cultural Community Coordinator, where I support various pockets of communities to engage with their local art, culture, heritage and history, in and around Rochdale and I have a profound interest in creating accessible spaces for all.

This year, Touchstones Rochdale has partnered with the British Council’s Venice Fellowship Programme for the first time to be able to offer the opportunity to local creatives, students, professionals and students over the age of 18. Through a competitive process, we received a high number of applications from people living or working in Rochdale Borough. The Venice Biennale Fellowships Programme is a key part of the British Council’s presence in Venice, supporting the exhibition programme as well as being a platform for the development of new creative careers and future leaders. The fellowship programme sends approximately 70 UK-based students and researchers to the Venice Biennale for one month every year.

Running from May to November each year, alternating between art and architecture, the Venice Biennale began in 1895 and now attracts half a million visitors a year. A celebration of art and architecture, the Biennale explores themes of politics and contemporary cultural and social issues through performance, sculpture and installations.

This year the British Council have commissioned the artist and filmmaker John Akomfrah RA to represent Great Britain at the 60th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia.

Read more about the British Pavilion at Venice Biennale