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“When words fail, music speaks”

In our spring newsletter, we hear from two music bursary recipients as they talk about their passion for music-making and how your support has made a huge difference to their education. Plus read about a life changing trip to the theatre and rehearsal room news from our youth theatre.


“If it wasn’t for music and drama my son would have no confidence.”*

Participating in the arts helps a young person’s development in many ways. It increases confidence, engages the imagination and can give someone a voice at a time when they may feel unable to communicate.

If only young people from economically advantaged backgrounds are able to engage and train in the arts, then we are perpetuating an environment in the arts sector where only a very narrow set of voices are being heard.

With your help, NYAT is working hard to ensure that talented young people are not at risk of being excluded from the arts because of lack of finances.

Two music beneficiaries would like to share their testimonies about just how much your support means:

“As a low income family we have found it very financially straining to support our son’s love of learning music. Everything costs from tuition and instrument purchase to music books and transportation cost going here to there for lessons and performances. When our son won an NYAT award it was a HUGE relief to know that for a spell his trumpet lessons were covered. This has made a huge difference to us as a family. The NYAT purchasing a suitable instrument for him to use is so important to his music making. We would never be able to afford an appropriate instrument and now he will be able to progress without being hindered by an unsuitable instrument. We feel truly blessed to have received this award.” Parent of NYAT music bursary recipient


“Since I can remember I’ve had a passion for music. I enjoy my tuition a lot because you learn stuff what you wouldn’t learn at school. I look forward to the jazz and rock group because I like that sort of music and we perform as a band in front of the whole of the music academy. This year I’m taking my grade five theory and grade five singing. If I hadn’t had NYAT’s help I wouldn’t have been able to carry on with my music. I’m very grateful as it’s very important to me and my future. Thank you.” Henry Ruff, NYAT music bursary recipient 

*Parent of music bursary recipient

Support our bursary scheme


To kick off the new year, we piloted our theatre ticket scheme with the Rhyl Primary School in North London – taking Year One to see a stage adaptation of Roald Dahl’s ‘The Giraffe, and the Pelly and Me’ at the Little Angel Theatre in Islington.

When asked about the theatre, all but one didn’t know what a theatre was, and again, all but one had never been to the theatre before – this trip being their first experience!

The pupils really loved the show, and we had some brilliant feedback:

  • “I felt happy. My dad was laughing too.”
  • “Thank you for letting us go to the theatre. I like the part when the burglar came to dance.”
  • “I liked everything!”
  • “My favourite part was when the police was chasing the criminal!”

Our theatre ticket scheme gives young students the opportunity to see quality theatre, who might not normally have access to such opportunities.

Help us bring more young people to the theatre for the very first time.

Support our theatre ticket scheme


“I’m so grateful to the NYAT for seeing my potential in that audition last year! Just wanna let you know, I appreciate all the support you give me. I’m really humbled by all this. Thank you!!”  Moses Adupa, youth theatre member

Our youth theatre turns one this spring! To celebrate, the youth theatre are starting to rehearse three plays; Bouncers by NYAT patron John Godber, Shakers! by John Godber and Jane Thornton, and Find Me by Olwen Wymark. The performances are to take place at the end of June. For rehearsal pictures and updates, visit our Facebook page.

The youth theatre are also heading to London for a Shakespeare masterclass at renowed drama school RADA, which the youth theatre are particularly excited about!

The youth theatre leaders are very pleased with the progress the youth theatre members have made so far and say, “The group members are supportive, kind and thoughtful with one another.” “The increase in confidence has led to the participants taking more risks in their performances, now feeling absolutely certain that negative judgement does not really exist in the eyes of the group.”

We are thrilled to be working with such talented young theatre makers and we are proud to provide a positive and creative activity for teenagers in the Ely area.

Support our youth theatre projects



“Ever since I was 14 I have dreamed of studying at Performers College, and to think that the only reason it was made possible was because of NYAT makes me feel so lucky and privileged. I want to thank you for your kindness and believing I am worth investing in.” Georgie Cox, dance bursary recipient

Your support helps young theatre makers, dancers and musicians have access to quality training opportunities that they would otherwise not have, and helps provides positive and creative activities for children and teenagers from disadvantaged backgrounds.

We are aiming to double the amount of young people we are supporting in 2016, but we cannot do this without your help.

A hundred percent of bursary recipients said they would not have been able to start or continue with their tuition or would have seriously struggled to, without an NYAT bursary.

Much of the work we do is supported by individuals who are passionate about nurturing future talent regardless of background. If you would like to make a difference to the future of the arts in the UK, please donate now. Thank you!

p.s. Don’t forget you can raise free donations for NYAT whenever you shop online! Do your weekly shop online? We have a page with so please do follow the link before you shop, find out more and help us raise vital funds for 2016. Thank you for your support!

*Title quote by Hans Christian Andersen

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Happy New Year!

We are incredibly excited for what 2016 has to hold for the National Youth Arts Trust.

To kick off the new year, we are piloting our theatre ticket scheme with Rhyl Primary School in North London – taking Year 1 to see a stage adaptation of ‘The Giraffe, and the Pelly and Me’ at the Little Angel Theatre in Islington. Our performing arts bursary scheme is open for applications and our drama project with young offenders in Kent is starting to take shape.

We’ve also published our very first newsletter, which looks back at an incredible year in 2015. Last year, with your help, more young people had access to the arts through NYAT than ever before; enabling them to continue with their violin lessons, learn ballet, attend recall auditions and induction days, attend youth theatre workshops, visit the theatre and start their training at drama school – without the financial burden.

“[At drama school] I have been challenged and inspired like never before. Without support from the NYAT, it would have been impossible for me to have taken up this incredible opportunity and be living my dream.”
Leah Gayer, Access bursary recipient

Get your copy of our New Year newsletter here.

We are aiming to double the amount of young people we are supporting in 2016, but we cannot do this without your help.

Much of the work we do is supported by individuals who are passionate about nurturing future talent regardless of background. If you would like to make a difference to the future of the arts in the UK, please do consider making us your charity of the year in 2016 and donate now.

Thank you.

p.s. You can raise free donations for NYAT whenever you shop online! Shopping online in the January sales? We have a page with so please do follow the link before you shop, find out more and help us raise vital funds for 2016. Thank you for your support!

Do you know someone who is looking for support to access arts training? Our bursary scheme is open to applications! We provide bursaries for music lessons and dance classes for those who cannot afford to fund themselves, and we help fund costs relating to drama school recall auditions and tuition fees. Find out more here.




Season’s Greetings

It is nearly three years since I sat in a café talking to our chair, Fiona Millar, about the crisis in arts funding and mulling the idea of starting this charity. Those three years have been an extraordinary time and I want to thank you, our incredible group of supporters, who have given us your vital support to get us to this point and in shaping the NYAT into the charity it is today.

Over the 25 years I have worked as a theatre director in the UK, I have come to realise how essential it is that the performing arts represent their audience, and are created by all our society. But owing to economic circumstances it has become increasingly difficult for young people from challenging backgrounds – or even just where arts facilities are scarce – to fulfil their creative potential. Which is why NYAT was created. Our vision is to see a diverse and inclusive performing arts sector that nurtures talent from any background.

If you share this vision and would like to been kept in the loop about our work, join our new mailing list. Our newsletters will be about all the things your support is helping to achieve and will include opportunities to get involved.

We look forward to having you alongside us on this journey. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Fiona Laird X
Theatre Director and NYAT Founder

p.s Much of the work we do is supported by individuals who are passionate about increasing access to the arts for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. If you haven’t found a charity to support this Christmas – look no further!

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Youth Theatre Company Update

NYAT’s youth theatre in Ely has been having a brilliant few weeks, rounded off by an acting master class run by critically acclaimed actress Linda Marlowe!

We were delighted to welcome the ever wonderful Ms Marlowe to our youth theatre at the weekend (June 20th). Linda first talked about her experiences in theatre; in particular working with Steven Berkoff over a twenty-five year span as leading lady in many of his plays. The youth theatre then learnt the importance of using your body to communicate a character and devised short scenes using extracts from Kafka’s Metamorphosis. The master class was run as part of the Isle of Ely Arts Festival and family, friends and the local community were invited to watch the master class take place.

Linda said of the workshop; “It was a pleasure and a delight to work with NYAT and the students. I would be very happy to come back and work with the youth theatre again.”

A month before Linda’s master class, the youth theatre welcomed two LAMDA representatives, Rhiannon (LAMDA’s participation officer), and recent LAMDA graduate Kayla, to our workshop session at the weekend. It was a fantastic opportunity for the youth theatre to learn about vocational training and get an insight into daily life at drama school. Kayla performed her brilliant audition piece and talked about the skills she learnt during her training; including voice work, physical theatre, acting, stage combat and prominent theatre practitioners.

The youth theatre started meeting at the end of February this year and since then, its members have been hard at work devising short scenes, working on monologues and character development and learning a variety of acting techniques. In particular members have been looking at scenes in Breezeblock Park by Willy Russell and Once a Catholic by Mary O’Malley and have been using material generated from newspaper headlines to devise some fantastic sketches; with pyrotechnics, pork chops, superheroes and Nutella some of the more quirky themes.

Of the workshops, participants have said, “This is an amazing thing to be part of.” “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every session so far.” “I have learnt a lot about myself. [NYAT youth theatre] has helped shaped me as a performer. The team are very supportive and I feel very comfortable being with NYAT.”

Watch this space for more youth theatre company news in the coming weeks!

“Having access to the arts from a young age is key”

NYAT met with actor Tom Stocks, of the working-class actors campaign #actorsawareness, to talk about the barriers facing young working-class talent in accessing the arts and Tom’s short film ‘The Industry’ which aims to highlight the issues facing actors from non-privileged backgrounds.

What kinds of access to the arts did you have growing up and what role did youth theatre play, in shaping your career as an actor?

Like most kids, the school nativity was my first experience on the stage. I was a confident kid and a bit of a crowd pleaser, so my teacher suggested I join a local youth group – the Octagon Bolton youth theatre – near where I grew up. Being part of the youth theatre meant we got free tickets to see performances at the Octagon, and the first production I saw was Joan Littlewood’s musical Oh, What a Lovely War! I think that’s when I started to take theatre more seriously – I was amazed by what I saw on stage, and it opened up different possibilities in my mind of what theatre could be. I was soon taking part in musical theatre productions as part of the Octagon youth theatre and this really ignited a passion for acting that will stick with me for a lifetime. I was able to develop my skills in a stimulating, collaborative environment alongside my peers and this really set me up for advancing my training at university.

I went on to study Performing Arts at Newport University and came out knowing that acting was the profession I wanted to pursue. I was delighted to then be successful in securing a place on the MA in Acting at East 15. Having always been under the impression that drama school was the best route to a successful career, I deferred my place at East 15 for two years in order to save the £12,000 tuition fees, plus my living expenses. Now two years on, I’ve had to give up my place at East 15 as I just couldn’t get the money together in time; my savings didn’t cover it and my only other option was a career development loan. Although this was an extremely difficult decision, I just couldn’t stomach the thought of being £12k in debt, on top of my student loan, and trying to make it in the profession whilst paying back that huge sum of money; it just wasn’t an option for me.

How did your short film ‘The Industry’ come about?

Friend and fellow working-class actor, Marcus Armstrong and I initially talked about trying to introduce a different dynamic to the #actorsawareness campaign by making a film about the struggles of an actor from a low income background. Through Marcus’s new production company Type 40 films, we got together a storyboard, script and crew and by crowd funding we have managed to raise the funds needed to hire equipment. The short film will be shot in June over two or three weekends and we hope the film will eventually evolve into a four part documentary, with interviews from working-class actors from across the UK. The film follows the daily lives of two young actors in London; one coming from a wealthy middle class family, and the other coming from a working-class family. The two young men are the same age and share the same dream; but for one of them it is far easier, which pushes their friendship to breaking point. The campaign has really gained strength over the past few months, and I have been so encouraged to hear of people’s support.

Apart from money, what other barriers do you think hold back young people from working-class backgrounds from pursuing a career in the arts?

After starting the #actorsawareness campaign, I got introduced to a collective called the working-class conversation. For me, money (or lack of it) had always represented the problem but at meetings it became clear that the barriers facing young talent from working-class backgrounds was multifaceted. I struck up a conversation with a young actor from Wales who had found that his accent had become detrimental to his career, with casting directors encouraging him to speak in RP, rather than his native accent. There were stories where Shakespeare spoken in an accent other than RP was deemed too risky, even for Northern audiences. Last year, actress Maxine Peak commented “if you’ve got a regional accent you’re not taken as seriously” in an interview before she took on the role of Hamlet at Manchester’s Royal Exchange and I think this is true.

I also think there is the perception that coming to London is the next step in forging a career for an actor, and making that move is a difficult one if you’re from a low income family. I recently read that new research from Goldsmith’s University has revealed actors from working-class backgrounds make up only 10% of the profession, and this doesn’t surprise me. It’s easy to get lost in the crowd and with little industry contacts or a buffer of money, you have to have that extra drive to work hard and make yourself stand out. I wanted to start the #actorsawareness campaign to help give working-class actors like me a voice and a network of likeminded artists who could encourage and support each other.

Which area of funding do you think would make the most amount of difference to young talent coming from working-class backgrounds, trying to make it in the industry?

Around the start of the #actorsawareness campaign I got a role in panto and went on tour with some drama graduates. I realised, even though I didn’t have the kind of training they’d had, there were other ways to forge an acting career and I think having access to the arts from a young age is key. It’s about changing people’s mind sets and making them realise that the arts is for them too. I think investing in bringing arts opportunities to the regions is important and changing the perception that drama school in London isn’t the only way to be successful in the arts. If more opportunities were available in local communities’ young people wouldn’t flock to London, but be encouraged to stay in their area and make work. It also has to be about investing in talent and not just training the money but training the talent. Drama school auditions alone are now £50+ a pop and if you audition for a few like you are advised to do, well…you can do the maths. Costs like this can really prevent young talented people from working-class backgrounds ever considering a career in the arts.

To follow Tom’s #actorsawareness campaign visit his website for more information:!about2/c1f8t

The NYAT is committed to helping provide access to the performing arts, for young people from non-privileged backgrounds. We provide bursaries for music lessons and dance classes for those who cannot afford to fund themselves, and we support youth theatre projects in areas where there is little or no such provision. For those looking to move into Higher Education we aim to increase access to the Conservatoires for young people from the regions by providing help with the cost of travel to auditions and interviews.

To find out more about the work we do or to help support our work, please visit our website:

The National Youth Arts Trust helps provide access to the performing arts, at all stages, for young people from non-privileged backgrounds.

We provide bursaries for music lessons and dance classes for those who cannot afford to fund themselves, and we support youth theatre projects in areas where there is little or no such provision. For those looking to move into Higher Education we aim to increase access to the Conservatoires for young people from the regions by providing help with the cost of travel to auditions and interviews.
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