Norwich student gets �3000 grant for theatre course

People in Norfolk do not get their fair crack at the whip at going into the theatre world, the Norwich Theatre Royal chief executive has said as he awarded the first of a new student grant.

Drama students are to be given a financial helping hand for their first year with a new Cleminson Award.

The grant is named after the late Sir James Cleminson who took on the role of Theatre Royal chairman in 1990, putting the funding back on an even keel and saving it from closure.

Trustees of the theatre have agreed to put aside �27,000 of the theatre budget over the next three years to help young people who have gone through the theatre's art courses with expenses for their vocational training.

Nineteen-year-old Liam Borrett is the first student to receive the award this year.

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He has spent more than a decade doing the Theatre Royal's art courses and has now secured a place for a degree in directing at the Drama Centre in King's Cross, London.

'I have always wanted to be an actor and then I realised that I really liked telling stories,' he said.

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He said that it was at Hellesdon High School that he really started directing and had fallen in love with it.

'I am getting student finance, but this will certainly help with things like tube costs and accommodation.

'I think it is nice to be recognised for the work that you have put in. I have spent 10 years there and it is nice that someone has recognised the work and thought to give money to me.'

The trustees of the theatre have put aside �9,000 each year to be divided between any students who have secured places on accredited vocational drama courses and it will award a maximum of �3,000 to each student.

The theatre's art course provides training for eight to 16-year-olds and then 16-year-olds can move into the Norwich Theatre Royal Youth Company.

They do two productions each year and among the experience they gain is performing on the Theatre Royal stage.

Liam left school last year, but had a gap year where he was a teaching assistant and produced a play at his former school, Hellesdon High School.

Theatre Royal chief executive Peter Wilson said: 'Grants for vocational training are not statutory and I think it is right that people who want to got arts businesses are given help.

'I think a lot of people are driven away from going into the theatre through lack of support. I think there should be more. We think that people in Norfolk get their fair crack at the whip.'

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