James McAvoy makes ground-breaking investment to help young Scots access world-class drama tuition at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Image credit – RCS/KK Dundas
BAFTA-winning and Golden Globe-nominated actor, James McAvoy, revealed today (Saturday April 11) he is to invest in nurturing the creative potential of young Scots who experience multiple barriers to participation and achievement – through the creation and funding of a ground-breaking scholarship programme at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS).
The Glasgow-born actor is personally funding a ten-year scholarship programme which will enable young people to experience world-class drama training at the Junior Conservatoire of Drama and Short Courses at RCS.
Says a spokesperson: “The £125,000 investment will see scholarships awarded annually over the next ten years to young Scots aged 25 and under who would otherwise find cost the main barrier to accessing pre-Higher Education drama training at RCS.
“The Junior Conservatoire and Short Courses departments are part of the prestigious Royal Conservatoire of Scotland – the national centre of excellence for performing arts education, where James himself studied acting and which has produced a wealth of internationally-acclaimed talent.”
James, a graduate of the BA Acting programme at RCS, is passionate about the role the performing arts play in the lives of young people. He will also take on the role of patron of the Junior Conservatoire of Drama.
Announcing the scholarship programme, James McAvoy said: “There are few opportunities for young people to engage in performing arts. I see tons of young people who are vastly intelligent, but because they have this ingrained humility, it gets in the way of them expressing themselves and showing how brilliant they are.
“Drama breaks through barriers and it can give people the tools to walk into a room and express themselves.
“I really believe in that, it’s why I believe drama should be taught in our state schools from an early age and it’s why I am delighted to be part of creating the opportunity for young Scots to help them realise their potential through drama at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.
“I am where I am today because of an exceptional teacher who went above and beyond the call of duty.
“She reached out to the community and she brought director and actor, David Hayman, into the school to talk to her students.
“That was me hooked. I had that opportunity and I want the same for other young people out there who may not have even considered going to college or any other kind of higher education.
“I would say to any young person thinking about drama, ‘Go for it, do it, don’t be worried about what people are going to say’.
“I come from a place where nobody had done anything like it and it worked out pretty good. Drama will open your mind. It’s not just about being an actor, drama opens your mind whether you are going to be an actor, a doctor or a plumber.”
Jeffrey Sharkey, principal of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland said: “We are absolutely thrilled to have James McAvoy enable and inspire young people to be part of the Royal Conservatoire.
“I have no doubt of the profound and long-term impact his incredible support will have on individuals, their families and their communities.
“The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is a world-class centre for the performance arts which is based in Glasgow and incredibly proud of the positive impact and contribution our students and graduates are making in so many ways across Scotland and across the world as creative contributors and engaged citizens.”
Applicants to the James McAvoy Drama Scholarship fund will have to demonstrate that financial cost is the main barrier to accessing pre-Higher Education drama training at RCS.
Applications to this scholarship fund open in mid-May 2015.
Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs, said:
“James McAvoy’s story and career is an inspiration to us all.
“Helping those who might otherwise miss out on the opportunity to pursue drama at an outstanding institution like the Royal Conservatoire is a wonderful way to give back to the arts and to change the lives of young aspiring actors in Scotland.
“As a graduate himself, James shows just how far someone can go with the experience of the Royal Conservatoire behind them.
“I firmly agree with James that exposure to culture has a profound effect on young people and his long-term commitment to this through these scholarships is very much appreciated.
“By encouraging young people to try drama and the arts we raise their confidence and aspirations, and by raising the prospects for our young people we help Scotland become a more equal society.”
As the news of the James McAvoy Drama Scholarships is announced in the UK, RCS musicians and opera singers are in Los Angeles performing at a special event celebrating Scottish culture and emerging talent, hosted by Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs.
RCS staff and students will also be showcasing the work of the next generation of award-winning filmmakers at a private screening for film professionals, alumni and prospective students, at Hollywood’s Charlie Chaplin Theatre.
This ground-breaking event will be hosted by RCS mentor and LA-based screen writer and director, Richard Smith.
To find out more about the Junior Conservatoire of Drama or any of the other RCS Short Courses, go to http://www.rcs.ac.uk/shortcourses.
Notes to Editors
Founded in 1847 and launched by Charles Dickens, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) is one of the UK’s most internationally-distinguished conservatoires.
It has a student population of 1,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students.
There is a large community of international students drawn from around 60 countries.
At RCS, there are around 500 public performances each year selling 59,000 tickets to audiences around the country.
RCS is the only conservatoire, outside of the Julliard, to offer degree-level tuition across the five performance disciplines – drama, dance, production, music, screen.
REF 2014 results revealed RCS research in music and drama had the strongest impact of any HEI research undertaken in Scotland.
The proportion of our research judged to be world-leading or internationally-excellent has risen by more than 50 per cent and within the conservatoire sector, RCS held its position since 2008 (ranked No3 in the UK for research in music, No4 for drama).
Find out more about the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland: rcs.ac.uk
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