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The Linbury Prize for Stage Design

The Linbury Prize is the only nationwide prize for stage design in the UK, founded in 1987 by Lady Anya Sainsbury, former ballet dancer and patron of the arts

The prize is open every two years to graduating designers or those who demonstrate equivalent skills and experience. The Prize offers 12 prize recipients the chance to work with some of the UK’s leading theatre, opera and dance companies, offering vital support at the early stage of a designer’s career.

Applications for the Linbury Prize are currently closed. 

The Linbury Prize has had an enormous impact on my practice: as a participant, I learned to translate theory into practicality as soon as I finished my studies. Now, as a judge, I have learned so much from the next generation of young designers.
– Es Devlin OBE
Designer and Linbury Prize recipient 1995

Linbury Prize 2023 exhibition


We are delighted to announce the Linbury Prize exhibition at the National Theatre. This free exhibition showcases the work of the 12 emerging designers from across the UK who have been selected as the recipients of the Linbury Prize for Stage Design 2023.

The Linbury Prize exhibition has now closed.

Audio-described exhibition

Alongside the exhibition at the National Theatre, we are thrilled to announce an audio-described online exhibition accessible for free via the Linbury Prize website.

The audio description takes you through each board and exhibit designed by the 12 recipients of this year’s prize. The audio description has been written by the recipients themselves and is read by actor, Hannah James Scott.

Visit the Linbury Prize 2023 audio-described online exhibition

If you are interested in hearing more about our Access offer at the National Theatre, please visit our Access page.

Linbury Prize 2023 exhibition gallery

All photos by Ian Tillotson


The Linbury Trust was established by Lord Sainsbury of Preston Candover KG and his wife Anya, Lady Sainsbury CBE. Anya Sainsbury is the former ballerina, Anya Linden. Therefore, the name ‘Linbury’ is derived from the names Linden and Sainsbury.

The first exhibition for emerging designers took place in 1987 at the Theatre Museum, arranged by Anya Sainsbury. Further conversations between Anya Sainsbury and friends in the theatre design world led to the idea of creating a biennial prize for young designers.

In 1989, Anya Sainsbury approached the Director of the National Theatre, Richard Eyre, to host the prize. The enthusiastic endorsement of Eyre and subsequent Directors Trevor Nunn, Nicholas Hytner and Rufus Norris, means that the Prize is still held here

This unique project continues to champion young designers today. Over the 30 years, more than 1,200 young designers have entered the Linbury Prize for Stage Design.

It is such an honour to be part of the judging panel for the 2023 Linbury Prize. Congratulation to each of this year’s 139 applicants. It is exciting to discover your creative process, craft and commitment to storytelling (whether abstract or narrative), text and performance.

The diversity of talent and skills presented made for deeply inspiring discussions with my fellow judges – and tough decisions putting together a shortlist. I can’t wait to see the work exhibited by the 12 prize recipients at the National Theatre, and look forward to participating in future opportunities the Linbury Prize provides to its community. 

Jean-Marc Puissant, judge for the Linbury Prize for Stage Design 2023

I am truly thrilled and honoured to be selected as one of the 12 recipients. This recognition boosts my confidence as a designer and fuels my excitement for diving into the industry.

Huge thank you to all the portfolio mentors, judges and the Linbury Prize team for their amazing feedback and support along the way.

Yimei Zhao, Linbury Prize recipient 2023

Contact us

Nadia Lakhani
Linbury Prize Project Manager

Jock Maitland
Linbury Prize Project Coordinator

Rhian Bennett

You can contact the Linbury Prize team on

The Linbury Prize committee

Lady Anya Sainsbury (Founder and Patron)
Stuart Hobley (Director of the Linbury Trust)
Roxana Silbert (Chair)
Sean Crowley (Designer)
Paul Handley (Production and Technical Director, National Theatre)
Sophie Jump (Designer)
Georgia Lowe (Designer)
Tom Piper (Designer)
David Pritchard (Production Manager)

Fore more information about the Linbury Trust, please visit their website below.

Linbury Trust

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