2021 Founder Update

Although we have been robbed of the fresh start we were hoping for in 2021, we shouldn’t let that deter us from making the most of the year ahead. The decisions we make in the next 9 months will set us up for our emergence out of lockdown and into a world we once again wish to inhabit. Here’s how Zealous plans to make the most of this year!

2020 Highlights

“The Fragile Texture of our Desires” by Camilla Hanney
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Despite it all, 2020 wasn’t wasted. Here are a few of our notable milestones:

  • Helped host our biggest ever prize (£100,000 for the Gulbenkian Foundation).
  • Deployed our new opportunity page (see it in action on the Perito Prize)
  • Facilitated portfolio reviews under lockdown.
  • Deployed criteria judging (amongst 270 smaller updates)
  • Celebrated 11 of your Stories and put money in your pockets (all featured images in this article are of the winning entries)
  • Supported more international prizes (South Africa, yay!)

Our hopes for 2021

We're turning 10!

Detail of “Tracks 6” by Alysia Webster
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This year will mark a decade since I began typing the first lines of code which led to Zealous being born. Since then our platform has radically changed but our vision hasn’t. We are still committed to empowering creative talent, and this had only been galvanized more by the recent events.

We’re still busy at work planning on how to celebrate our 10th year in style. Expect an announcement later on in the year.

Sign up to our monthly newsletter for updates.

Continuing to support you during COVID

“Silent Night” by Jie Gao
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Making sure our community has access to as many opportunities as possible is vital at this time.

To do our part last year, we offered our services for free to all charities who support creative talent through open calls. This year we’re doing things a little differently, giving discounts to anyone creating opportunities that support creative talent.

The more supportive you are, the deeper the discount we’ll give you.

Fostering diversity & inclusion

“The Story of Miss Ruby Ribbon” by Rebecca Carrington
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Diversity and inclusion have always been important to us, but the Black Lives Matter movement, and feedback from our community has highlighted there is room for improvement.

For that reason, we are refining our processes and product this year to increase our impact in building the equal world we wish to live in.

Read our pledge in 2021.

Evolving our website

“A Networked Performance” by Francesca Fini
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With so much positive feedback on our new Opportunities page; we are continuing to update the designs of all of our pages, adding some new juicy features based on your feedback.

This includes how judges and organisations view your submissions, as well, as a completely new portfolio. We’re also restructuring how opportunity hosts can take payments, with expanded currencies and faster payouts.

For more gritty details, visit our roadmap page.

Refining our editorial practice

Work by Kate MacRitchie
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Our needs have changed over the last year, and they will likely evolve over the next year. For that reason, we are revising our editorial practice to the topics that matter the most to you.

For creators, we will be focusing on tips and resources to help you during COVID and preparing yourself for emergence.

For those hosting open calls, we’ll support you step by step through the process of organising open calls during COVID.

Getting physical

Performance by Lanre Malaolu
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These lockdowns have made some of us feel isolated, and although we can’t put a drink in your hand and tap you on the shoulder (not that I would ever do that!), we can still speak, but we’re also mindful another Zoom meeting won’t cut it.

However, we will try and experiment with new forms of digital meet-ups/workshops. And as we know some of you may have complicated schedules (e.g. kids!) – we’ll be sure to record them.

If you’re interested, let us know ([email protected]).


“Communion” by Linda Southwell
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There is no denying it, there are still challenges ahead of us all, but unlike March last year, progress has been made to guarantee the cycle of lockdowns will eventually broken. History has demonstrated that creativity flourishes after times of great hardship and we’re hopeful for the future and hope all the lessons learned from yesterday will translate into a better world for all of us.

But in the meantime, we’re here to do what we can support you in that last mile, and beyond. Let us know with our LiveChat button below.

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About the author


Guy Armitage founded Zealous to simplify access to opportunities in the creative sector. He was voted Guardian’s Creative Entrepreneur of the Year in 2013, has discussed the world-changing potential of creativity at TED and in Forbes; and is a proud trustee of Firstsite (Colchester) and Arebyte (London). Prior to Zealous, Guy kept the London Stock Exchange open during the 7/7 bombings and founded a creative startup in Cairo. Contact Guy