Disney to fund three full scholarships for BAME students on the Musical Theatre Course

-Posted on 15.03.2017

Disney Theatrical Productions is to fund three students from ethnic minority backgrounds to study on the Academy’s Musical Theatre Course, offering them the opportunity to fulfil their talent in financial security, and demonstrating both organisations’ commitment to diversity in the field of musical theatre.  

The scholarships continue Disney Theatrical’s ongoing efforts to redress the under-representation of BAME performers in musical theatre, which currently stands at 6.6% of the actors, dancers and musicians employed by the creative industries, as recognised in a recent report by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Additionally, in December 2016, Centre Stage, a report by the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, concluded that funding was one of the key factors in this statistic: ‘One of the most crucial barriers to pursuing training for BAME students (and those from under-represented groups) is financial.’
Disney Theatrical Productions is an industry leader in inclusive hiring and these scholarships complement that two-decade-long effort. The eight Disney Theatrical musicals produced around the world – including The Lion King and Aladdin – have featured some of the most diverse casts seen in musical theatre and employed hundreds of BAME professionals onstage and off.
Another barrier the report identified was ‘lack of representation on stage’, which ‘leads to a vicious cycle of BAME students feeling that the stage is “not for them”’, and successful applicants will be encouraged to advocate as role models for future BAME talents.  
‘We have long believed we have an imperative to open doors for young BAME performers who want to enter our industry. Thanks to the Royal Academy, these scholarships will welcome and reward the most talented among them,’ said Thomas Schumacher, President & Producer Disney Theatrical Productions. ‘I’d like to thank the Academy Principal, Jonathan Freeman-Attwood, and Head of Musical Theatre Daniel Bowling in particular, for allowing us to support a group of exceptional, diverse scholars in their next steps. I cannot wait to see them thrive and grow.’

Jonathan Freeman-Attwood said: ‘It’s a privilege to work with Disney towards its long-held vision for investing in the next generation through education. Underpinning our collaboration is a shared ambition to achieve excellence by making a top-class training in Musical Theatre available to people for whom such an opportunity was previously unimaginable. It’s another small but important step within a strategy that is central to the Academy’.
Dan Bowling, Head of Musical Theatre at the Academy, said: ‘The creation of three Disney Theatrical scholarships at the Royal Academy of Music is the fulfilment of my dream to bring these two great organisations together in working towards training the next generation of BAME artists in Musical Theatre. These scholarships will be transformational for the young artists who are the recipients and I am so grateful to Thomas Schumacher and the Royal Academy of Music for wholeheartedly supporting this initiative.’

Find out more about the scholarships here.

The deadline to apply for the 2017/18 Musical Theatre Course is 23rd March.

Photo: Deen van Meer, copyright Disney

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