Press Office

Thursday 27 Nov 2014

Press Release

BBC Performing Arts Fund to launch Young People's Musical Theatre scheme

The BBC's Performing Arts Fund will launch a new scheme on the 27 September that will aim to encourage young people to take part in musical theatre.

The new initiative, called the Young People's Musical Theatre scheme, will offer £200,000 in grants for training and development, and particularly for projects that encourage new members or audiences. The scheme is open to non-profit theatre groups which have a youth section, or are made up of members who are under the age of 25.

BBC Performing Arts Fund manager, Miriam O'Keeffe, stated that the fund will help these theatre companies to achieve "something more ambitious than they would usually do."

Theatre groups applying should regularly put on musical theatre productions, but funding is also available for those wishing to produce a musical for the first time. These companies may wish to work with other local groups or schools, run workshops with professionals, or apply for funding in order to hire a live band, director or choreographer, for example.

Partners of the scheme include the Voluntary Arts Network, the Media Trust and the National Operatic and Dramatic Association (NODA).

Chief executive of NODA, Tony Gibbs, said: "The support of the BBC Performing Arts Fund comes at a much needed time for amateur theatre, with many groups facing the challenges of how to attract audiences, get more young people involved at all levels and addressing the various financial issues which have been exacerbated by the current economic climate."

The scheme is one of several run by the BBC Performing Arts Fund, and will accompany the annual Training in Musical Theatre scheme, which this year, has already awarded 30 grants, ranging from £2,500 to £8,000, to assist students undertaking Musical Theatre courses with their tuition fees.

Notes to Editors

The Fund, whose Trustees include Sir Paul McCartney and Alan Yentob, is a registered charity that supports the development of professional and amateur performers across the UK, offering mentoring, advice and financial assistance.

The charity is funded by members of the public phone voting on BBC One entertainment talent shows such as Over The Rainbow.

Since it began in 2003, the Fund has awarded over £3m in grants to professional musicians, musical theatre students, urban music entrepreneurs and choirs. The Fund has awarded nearly £650,000 to 162 individual musical theatre students to help them with their training costs. The average cost of training at a drama school in London is currently about £11,000 per year. Considering most are three-year courses, the total amount due in tuition fees alone can make for an eye-watering figure, without the added cost of living in the country's capital city.

The Fund helps students who are exceptionally talented, but whose financial situation means that they cannot meet the cost of their fees. Without the help of the Fund these individuals would not be able to pursue their training or their careers in musical theatre.

The BBC's commitment to arts is deeper than content. The BBC funds orchestras, nurtures talent, works with partners and has an active outreach programme, all aiming to support and strengthen cultural life. As part of the Corporation's commitment to supporting the cultural infrastructure The Performing Arts Fund helps aspiring performing artists and those supporting them.


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