Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation awards 28 new grants to support under-represented aspiring actors, musicians and craftspeople

  • 28 new grants awarded worth a total of £686,133 to projects right across the UK
  • One year on from the Foundation’s Centre Stage report, priority is given to projects that champion diversity and break down barriers
  • A number of grants offer free, high-quality industry experience from professionals

This November, The Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation has awarded grants worth a total of £686,133 to 28 projects across the UK and internationally. Championing the breaking down of barriers to engagement in the arts, many of the organisations rewarded this autumn will use their grant to specifically engage young people and those from hard-to-reach and minority backgrounds. This follows on from last December’s Centre Stage report, which urged the theatre profession to take action to improve the pipeline of diverse talent into the arts.

From apprenticeships to PhDs, these projects will benefit people as far flung as America to across the UK in Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland and throughout England to projects in Northampton, Newcastle Under Lyme, Portsmouth, Lancaster, Warwick, Newcastle Upon Tyne and Norwich.

This includes more than £220,ooo to support music projects, over £226,000 for theatre initiatives and over £175,000 for projects conserving and promoting heritage. The Foundation’s active grant giving programme has awarded over £18 million since 2010 to support the enhancement of arts education, participation and increasing diversity across the sector.


Square Chapel Arts Centre are included in this round of grants. £30,000 is going to Square Chapel Arts Centre’s Open Doors project. This is a schools theatre outreach programme, created in order to increase participation in the arts for children in disadvantaged areas across Calderdale. The programme lasts for over three years.

Head of Audiences at Square Chapel Arts centre, Michaela O’Sullivan said: “We are absolutely delighted to receive a grant from the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation towards running costs of our Open Door schools outreach programme over the next three years.  Open Door delivers a termly subsidised programme of theatre, workshops and bespoke projects especially for schools in Calderdale, aiming to make the arts more accessible to children from diverse backgrounds and communities.  Around 2500 children a year benefit from this programme and though we still need to raise additional funds, this grant is a significant contribution to help secure the future of this important project.”


Quotes from Calderdale school teachers this year about the value of the project:

“It is absolutely essential that children experience live theatre and have contact with the arts, including music, as in their daily lives I know they will not. Thank you Square Chapel for enriching our children’s lives.” 

“Some children have not experienced theatre at all. This programme for schools not only enhances the curriculum but also the life experiences of children.”

“These opportunities allow children access to a world of imagination and potential that they would otherwise never get to experience. The look of wonder on the faces of children who would never usually be taken to the theatre is unquantifiable. We have a lot of children from disadvantaged backgrounds in our school and the theatre allows them to envisage a better future.”


Other recipients of this round of grants are National Youth Theatre, Mercury Musical Developments, Masterclass Trust, Live Theatre, Wales Millennium Centre, JMK Trust, New Vic Theatre, Northampton Theatres Trust Ltd, The Dukes Theatre, Square Chapel Arts Centre, Punchdrunk, Warwick Arts Centre, The Jessye Norman School of Arts, Wac Arts, Greyscale Theatre Company, Frozen Light Theatre, Historic Wales Heritage Angel Awards, Gainsborough House, Churches Conservation Trust, Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain (SAHGB), Chetham’s School of Music, Ulster Orchestra, Northampton’s Music and Performing Arts Trust, Chineke! Orchestra, MiSST, Gorsebrook School, Urban Vocal Group and William Mathias Music Centre.

Highlights include a grant of £90,000 over three years to highly regarded centre of excellence, Chetham’s School of Music. The grant will fund a full fee bursary based on talent and financial need in this specialist music school which provides expert tuition and guidance for aspiring musicians. Ulster Orchestra has been awarded £27,180 to provide side by side coaching and mentoring for university music students from NI for over three years. There is no vocational third level music college in Northern Ireland and this scheme offers a unique opportunity for young local musicians to rehearse and perform alongside the professional Ulster Orchestra.

The second highest grant goes to the renowned National Youth Theatre REP Company. Awarded £75,000 over 3 years, the grant funds places for young talented 18-25 year olds to train with highly regarded, established theatre practitioners.  The REP Company provides free and exceptional experience and mentoring from industry professionals to 16 young people each year from culturally and geographically disadvantaged areas.

Other projects targeting under-represented communities in the performing arts include SPARK, a musical theatre project encouraging participation and progression for young people from BAME and hard to reach communities in Stoke on Trent, for which New Vic Theatre, Newcastle Under Lyme has been awarded £50,000 over two years. Chineke! Orchestra receives £15,000 towards their orchestral learning and participation project, taken in to schools in Gloucester, Birmingham and Southampton at no cost to the school. £10,000 is awarded to Live Theatre, Newcastle upon Tyne’s G’ben/Write project providing weekly career development, mentoring and support sessions lasting over 6 months for young writers aged 16 – 25 of Afro Caribbean origin.

On the heritage side Historic Wales Heritage Angel Awards is awarded £50,000 to promote and host the Historic Wales Angel Awards. This will formally recognise the achievements, dedication and expertise in the conservation, preservation and appreciation of heritage in Wales and complete the programme already established with the Historic England Angel Awards, Scottish Heritage Angel Awards and the Heritage Angel Awards for Northern Ireland.

Gainsborough’s House is awarded a £49,854 grant towards a Building Management Apprenticeship scheme to fund one apprentice for 3 years as part of a major refurbishment project at the Grade 1 listed house and museum. Recruitment will be targeted at underrepresented groups, including young people from BAME backgrounds.

Andrew Lloyd Webber said‘One year on from the publication of the Centre Stage report I’m delighted my Foundation is able to fund such a wide range of projects across the UK that help erode the barriers to careers in the arts and heritage for young people from all backgrounds. The report encouraged other funders and philanthropists to do the same.  I urge everyone who can to get involved and support the development of diverse talent across our industry.  I’m also particularly thrilled to see that we will have Heritage Angel Awards in Wales next year and will be able to celebrate the vital work that people contribute to saving our heritage right across the country.’


Further grants awarded are:


  • Known for its journal, Architectural History, Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain (SAHGB), organises lectures, study days, foreign tours, conferences, symposia, and graduate student workshops. The Society has been awarded £43, 599 to fund one postgraduate PhD student for 3 years. The PhD will be connected to English Architectural Heritage.


  • Northampton Theatres Trust Ltd has been awarded £30,000 to fund the expansion of their Youth Theatre. An additional 40 places at the theatre will be offered to young people from BAME backgrounds and the scheme will last over three years.


  • £23,000 is awarded to Northampton Music and Performing Arts Trust to run a ‘Reach the Stars’ programme. The curriculum provides bespoke practical music education run by professional music therapists for children and young people with additional needs.


  • £23,000 to Churches Conservation Trust, which will deliver a range of heritage skills training by funding one 12 month paid heritage skills apprenticeship as part of a wider project at St Swithun’s in Worcester.


  • Punchdrunk has been awarded £15,000 towards the Lost Lending Library project. This involves arts based learning activities in the most deprived areas of London. ALWF funding will target project delivery in 14 primary schools across Haringey. The project aims to increase literacy and oral skills of the children whilst equipping teachers with creative teaching techniques going forward.


  • Wales Millennium Centre has been given funding of £15,000 which will give added value by way of training and experience opportunities in the Shared Apprenticeship scheme. Encouraging and developing future generations of stage technicians, electricians and other behind the scenes roles; it will lead to EDI Level 3 in Technical Theatre across Wales.


  • Masterclass Trust was awarded £12,500 to provide advice and information sessions for young people under 30, with the aim of making the professional world of the Theatre more accessible. Masterclasses include talks, workshops, careers advice and support from industry leaders.


  • MiSST will run the Summer residency programme at Radley College 2017 with its grant of £10,000.


  • £10,000 to Goresbrook School, Dagenham will go towards the Big Band Project. This project ensures every student in years 7, 8 and 9 learns a woodwind, brass or rhythm section instrument and has opportunities for ensemble playing and performance. (NB this is a United Learning school).


  • Urban Vocal Group, Portsmouth will provide development opportunities for participants to progress to leadership roles in weekly singing tuition and composition workshops with their grant of £5,000.


  • William Mathias Music Centre, Caernarfon offer high quality music tuition and performance opportunities, the grant of £5,000 will be focused towards costs of specialist tutors.


  • £13,000 to Mercury Musical Developments for running BEAM 2018, a development showcase of new and diverse British musical theatre writing. Including pitching masterclasses and pitching days across the UK culminating in a showcase in front of an audience of industry professionals.


  • £15,000 to JMK Trust provides bespoke workshops and training opportunities run by established theatre professionals for potential assistant directors from diverse backgrounds across 10 regional UK theatres, including Birmingham REP, Home Manchester and West Yorkshire Playhouse. The scheme lasts over three years.


  • £15,000 to The Dukes Theatre, Lancaster will go towards Young Creatives programme lasting over two years. It is a first step for young people accessing the theatre. Recruitment will be from areas of economic deprivation through local partners.


  • Warwick Arts Centre is funded £10,000 to recruit 7 student leaders from university students and provides 20 free youth theatre places. It is targeting those who wouldn’t normally engage, reached via promotion in schools and community groups in disadvantaged areas.


  • $10,000 to The Jessye Norman School of the Arts, Augusta US will go towards their free after school arts programme for local school children, focusing on dance, theatre, music, visual art and photo journalism.


  • £30,000 to Wac Arts will last over 3 years, the fund will go to towards the costs of providing specialist tutors on the Diploma and Senior WAC Arts programme.


  • Greyscale Theatre Company, Newcastle Upon Tyne has been awarded £1,500 to offer an apprenticeship for a young disabled director.


  • Frozen Light Theatre, Norwich will receive £2,500 to go towards theatre performances for people with profound and multiple disabilities.



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About The Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation

  • The Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation was set up by Andrew in 1992 to promote the arts, culture and heritage for the public benefit; since inception Andrew has been the principal provider of funding for all its charitable activities.
  • In 2010, the Foundation embarked on an active grant giving programme and has now awarded grants of £18m to support high quality training and personal development as well as other projects that make a real difference to enrich the quality of life both for individuals and within local communities.  Significant grants include £3.5m to Arts Educational Schools, London to create a state of the art professional theatre, £2.4m to The Music in Secondary Schools Trust, £1m to The Architectural Heritage Fund, $1.3m to the American Theatre Wing and over £300,000 annually to fund 30 performing arts scholarships for talented students in financial need.
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