Report: Academy Response Fund


As we finally see rates of infection drop and the lockdown begin to ease, I wanted to take a moment to thank you again for supporting the Academy Response Fund. The impact of coronavirus has been incredibly difficult for almost everyone, but I am happy to report that, with your generous support, Academy students are learning and thriving. They are continuing to make music in isolation and, at the same time, taking care of family and carrying on with their lessons, albeit in new ways.

In many ways, we have you to thank for this spirit. When we launched the Response Fund appeal, we could not have imagined how compassionately you would respond. To date, you and 202 other Academy supporters have made gifts to the Fund. In the first instance, your gift helped to provide grants for more than 100 students in financial emergency. You have paid rent, bought food and subsidised airline tickets so that some could shelter in place with their families. You have also shipped microphones, electric keyboards, and at least one external aerial to students across London, to allow them to continue their tuition. In short, when students return to the Academy, they will be hale and hearty and ready to make music, all because of your generosity.

Here are just a few of their stories.

Marco is an undergraduate studying the guitar at the Academy. His family lives in Venezuela, and the combination of travel bans and economic sanctions means that they have no way to send him money. By the time he applied for a grant from the Response Fund, he had just £200 in his bank account. With your help, he received help to cover this month’s rent, and we have invited him to apply again, if necessary.

Andreia is a postgraduate student studying the violin. She had to leave London suddenly to get back into Poland before the borders closed, and was forced to leave most of her belongings in her rented room in London. She therefore had to continue paying rent on her room, and was struggling to make ends meet. Her grant from the Response Fund will help her survive.

Sophia, who studies the horn, had lost a large amount of earnings and was having trouble collecting payment for work she had done in the autumn. She has a volatile situation at home, which means that her parents (both high-risk) cannot support her. In addition, Sophia also financially supports other family members. Your gift ensured she received help to cover her expenses.

Jianyu, a postgraduate studying historical performance, applied for hardship funding with the support of his teacher and Head of Department. He needed a keyboard to allow him to practise, as he had been unable to do so since the Academy closed. With his final recital imminent, he was worried he would not meet his teachers’ expectations. Because of your gift, he received funds to contribute towards the purchase of an instrument.

Andrew, a postgraduate vocal studies student, needed a microphone to be able to participate in his singing lessons. He found a reasonably priced one, and with your help we covered the complete cost, as well as contributing to his living expenses.

We expect applications to increase during the summer, as other students reach the end of their cash reserves. Once these needs are met, your support will help to bridge the gap caused by lost income and the increased costs the Academy is now facing, including extending teaching contracts into the late summer.

It would be hard to overstate how grateful we are for your support. The students themselves have been sending through letters of thanks since the launch of the Fund.

I’ve included a few of their letters, below.

‘I am writing to thank you sincerely for the grant from the Response Fund that I have received because of the pandemic. I can’t imagine how many applications you must have had, and I hope that the influx of work hasn’t been too overwhelming at what is already an overwhelming time.

‘The funds will not only help with my living costs, but also lift a significant weight off my shoulders for the next few months, which will certainly have a positive impact on my mental health. I am still living in rented accommodation in London which, in combination with a lack of paid performance opportunities and a reduction in teaching income, creates obvious financial difficulties. I have been living off my savings, and due to family complications, it is not feasible for either of my parents to support me financially at this time.

‘I’m in the process of moving the majority of my teaching online and trying to find creative ways of earning other income, but the financial assistance you have awarded me will help sustain me until then. I really cannot thank you enough.’

-       Roberto (Brass)


‘I am writing to thank the Royal Academy of Music for its generous contribution towards my living expenses this month.

‘The Covid-19 crisis has plunged many people into unexpected financial hardship, including me. My budget for the 2019/20 academic year was carefully crafted around various income streams. As with many musicians, my income was made up of scholarships, performance fees and fees from teaching.

‘Unfortunately, due to the unprecedented restrictions on public life, my income from performances and teaching has effectively been reduced to zero. I wanted to thank the Academy for granting this invaluable funding, which will allow me to cover many of the costs that I am incurring this month and bridge this period of hardship.

For this I am truly grateful.’

-       Bahran (percussion)


‘I am sincerely grateful for the decision to allocate funds to me during the pandemic. It will undoubtedly relieve my financial uncertainty over the coming months. With concerts and other engagements temporarily cancelled, we are all seeking alternatives to sustain ourselves at this difficult time, so the fact that the Academy can support an international student like me feels like a gesture of solidarity.

‘Let’s hope that this crisis will be contained soon, and we will all be able to return to our ordinary life at the Academy.’

-       Kwang (composition)


‘Thank you so much for your generous support. I don't currently own a laptop or tablet and this will enable me to buy a tablet. This is crucial as it will allow me to have online lessons, stream my final recital, make recordings and complete written work while I am in Australia during the pandemic.’

-       Aimee (clarinet)


‘I am writing to express how deeply grateful I am and show my sincere gratitude for the financial assistance I’ve received from the Academy for my rent. 

‘I know that the resources are limited, and I was speechless when I found out that I had been given a grant from the Response Fund. It will help me during those difficult times, giving me relief from the burden of not being able to pay my rent. No longer having this pressure will enable me to pursue my passion and do everything I can to achieve my goals at the Academy.’

-       Sean (vocal studies)


Thank you for being a light at a very difficult time – you have truly been a beacon of hope as we find a path to our ‘new normal.’ Just this week, students have begun to return to the Academy for final exams and performances. As we adapt our physical space to align with government safety guidelines, your gifts to the Response Fund will continue to be central to our efforts to keep staff and students safe.

Our doors will open to you again soon, and when they do, when our halls resound with music, we will have you to thank. On behalf of more than a thousand students and staff, thank you.

Kurstin Finch Gnehm
Deputy Director of Philanthropy
Royal Academy of Music
June 2020