A NEW trust fund is being launched to provide local young performing arts talent with the best platform from which to develop their careers and take up ‘once in a lifetime opportunities’.
The ‘Spotlight Scholarship Fund’ is to be launched at a special gala lunch on Sunday, June 10, where the support of local businesses will be sought to either pledge donations to individuals, or contribute to an overall fund to help young Hull students follow their dreams.
If follows the awarding of scholarships for 12 students at Archbishop Sentamu Academy this year at various leading performing arts academies and courses across the UK and Europe.
Taking up such a great opportunities is not without its major challenges, however, given students need to find money to cover accommodation and living costs.
This is an obstacle the academy – with the support of the Neil Hudgell Trust – is looking to overcome through the fund, aiming to raise up to £10,000 a year to ensure such great opportunities for local students are not lost.
Jo Hudgell, chair of the Neil Hudgell Trust, says it will ensure talented pupils are given the best opportunity, regardless of their background and financial situation.
“The scholarship aims to raise funds for students to be able to take up the great opportunities open to them when they are offered a scholarship place through the school,” she said.
“We are fund-raising to give each pupil a little extra help with this depending on their needs. Our ambition is to raise £10,000 per year which will go in to a trust fund to support these pupils both now and in the future.”
Whilst helping cover the costs of travel and accommodation for pupils securing places on courses further afield, the fund will also go towards ensuring they are able to see shows and productions across the country, and attend auditions for productions and drama schools.
Project stems from school’s Spotlight Scholarship and amazing success of Ocho
The project has all stemmed from the creation of The Spotlight Scholarship programme in 2016 at the school, which aimed to help gifted and talented pupils further reach their potential.
It sees students selected due to their outstanding talent and afforded an additional 75 minute lesson on their timetable to develop their performance skills, enabling the school to tackle more advanced techniques and bring in industry professionals to conduct workshops.
BAFTA winning playwrights Jane Thornton and John Godber, who had done previous drama work in the school, have been committed supporters, culminating in Jane writing and directing the play Ocho, a true story of eight men from Hull who fought against fascism in the Spanish Civil War
Despite failing to secure funding from the City of Culture 2017, it toured around Hull and the East Riding last summer and then headed to the Institute of the Arts in Barcelona, where Jane and John visit as guest lecturers.
It was that performance which led to the Institute’s principal, Giles Auckland-Lewis, offering scholarships to cast members Corey Rylands, 16, and Elle Ideson, 17.
Such scholarships, which had never been offered before and are worth in the region of £100,000, inspired others at the school to follow their stage dreams too.
Lucy Riley – Head of Drama at Archbishop Sentamu Academy, said: “With new-found confidence and self-belief many more members of the talented cast decided to apply for drama school and university and another 10 have secured offers of places.
“In December we remounted the play in Hull and invited Adrian Hall, the Principal of the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts London and the North, to see the performance. He was equally as impressed as Giles and offered places to the entire cast to attend the acting foundation course without the need to audition, along with a number of scholarships and funded places on the BA acting course.
“For the majority of them they are the first members of their family to go to university. “
Scholarship students have been offered places at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts, York St John University, The Academy of Live and Recorded Arts, Arden School of Theatre, the BA Acting Academy Live and recorded Arts and the Institute of the Arts Barcelona in September 2018, 2019 and 2020.
The official Gala Lunch to launch the fund, which will be held at KCOM Craven Park on Sunday, June 10, from 2-6pm, will be attended by each of the students who have been offered places and a number of celebrities from the world of performing arts and television, including Mark Addy, who is known for his roles in The Full Monty, The Syndicate, Trollied, Still Standing and Game of Thrones.
Jane Thornton says the fund presents a great chance to create ‘a level playing field’ which provides all talented students with the same chance of success.
She said: “Some very talented pupils presently can’t take a once in a lifetime opportunity when it is offered to them. Transport costs, ticket prices and audition fees can often deter students and families from taking up these opportunities and that is a huge shame.
“Those students from higher income families whose parents can afford to pay for accommodation and living are certainly more advantaged position. They don’t need to juggle courses with Saturday jobs and have much less debt at the end of the course because they don’t need loans. It is simply not a level playing field, and that is what we want to create.”
Jo Hudgell added: “We really feel this is an event that the local business community should rally around and support. It is a chance to meet these wonderfully talented students and find out how their support can give them a real chance to make the best of their talents.
“We are looking for people to both support those offered places now, and to help create a fund for students in the future.
“It is a chance to help raise aspirations and provide a stepping stone into the Performing Arts industry that many may not be afforded without such support.
“The aim is to challenge perceptions about theatre being inaccessible for young people from disadvantaged areas and provide a foot in the door to having a real career in the Performing Arts industry.
“What a legacy that would be.”