Darcey Bussell helps us put Empathy centre stage the Imagination Lab, with the selection of multi-sensory music practitioners Bittersuite as our Cultural Residents for 2019

The results are in!

Today, Darcey Bussell helped us to select Bittersuite as our 2019 Cultural Residents at the Imagination Lab.

We invited applications from across STEAM fields (science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics) to respond to the theme: Empathy. The residency’s aim is to engage Imagination Lab visitors with a collaborative performance project between April to July this year.

The Firebird Lab

Bittersuite’s project, The Firebird Lab, will explore Stravinsky’s classical music piece The Firebird through multi-sensory workshops. Visitors to the Lab will be able to experience workshops from experts like perfumers, composers, chefs and dancers across the four month residency.

The project aims to boost the ability to understand the feelings of others, by sharing and exploring different responses to the same musical stimulus. The multi-sensory approach will be a fun, experiential way to try out expressing emotions in non-traditional ways – for instance through smells, textures and gesture.

Thank you to our judges

Darcey Bussell sitting on a box

We’re grateful to our expert Head Judge Darcey Bussell and our industry shortlisting panel for helping us to make this selection. The final choice was made after the three finalists delivered workshops to 60 Lambeth Primary School children, who gave their feedback as part of the judging process.

The Firebird Lab concept is excellent. The use of classical music helped the students focus quickly and listen and because Stravinsky’s The Firebird would be unfamiliar to most, it is inclusive.The simple but effective structure for the project would be easily transferable to other teachers, which is important for continuing learning beyond the Imagination Lab workshops, at home and in the classroom.”

Darcey Bussell, Head Judge for the Cultural Residency  

”We are delighted to be the invited resident at the Imagination Lab for the next four months. We are so excited to bring The Firebird to life by sharing our processes with the public in the making of this collaborative experience, exploring empathy and the senses through sound. We can’t think of a more exciting space to work alongside young imaginations and look forward to the development of this shared experience.”


“We are delighted that Darcey Bussell has helped us to select our first performance-based residency for the Imagination Lab. Bittersuite’s concept will meaningfully explore the role imagination plays in developing empathy, a vital skill needed now more than ever. We’re grateful for the children’s feedback and Darcey’s expertise which has helped us find a project that offers wonderful opportunities for joyful experimentation. We look forward to seeing where ’The Firebird Lab’ takes our visitors.”

Gareth Binns, Chief Executive, Institute of Imagination

How can you get involved?

The residency will take place between April to July 2019 at the Imagination Lab. There will be a series of workshops for children, families, schools and adults to contribute to The Firebird Lab and you can book them on our what’s on page. Sign up to our mailing list to be the first to know when the events are open for booking.

You can read an exploration of the theme Empathy, written by Darcey Bussell exclusively for Imagination Matters. As our Imaginator for the theme of Empathy, Darcey shared with us this thoughtful examination of how dance is a medium for empathy and shared experience, and the vital need for these connections in a changing world.

The runners-up

Congratulations to our two runners-up, Griot Chinyere Nwaubani with the Concoct-A-Tale project and Dan Scott who proposed the The Empathic Listening Epic Feely Mixtape Jukebox. 

The Cultural Residency is kindly supported by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, Arts Council England and the D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust.

Stay Up To Date

Sign up below to receive email updates on our events, news and campaigns. View our privacy policy for details of how your data will be stored and processed.

  • I would like to hear about:

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.