Arts Council England funds Royal & Derngate’s national consortium initiative


Arts Council England
has just announced that it is investing more than £684,000 in our national consortium initiative to inspire, support and create original musical productions. Over the next three years and working with a national consortium of partners, including China Plate, Improbable, Mercury Musicals Development, Musical Theatre Network, Perfect Pitch and Scottish Opera, we will produce four original musicals, support at least 150 artists and create a step-change in the way new musical theatre and opera is created for mid-scale venues.

Arts Council England is supporting the consortium as part of the Ambition for Excellence scheme, a fund to develop artistic and cultural talent and leadership and give an international dimension to excellent work.

Together the consortium will support a diverse range of writers, composers and theatre makers to create original new work conceived for mid-scale touring. This will include four original musical theatre shows, a series of original commissions, a festival showcasing a range of new touring musicals, a symposium focussing upon musical theatre and opera and a variety of artist development programmes. We will also create and distribute one new musical digitally, for free via sharing platforms including YouTube.

Martin Sutherland, Chief Executive, responded: “We’re delighted with this news and would like to thank Arts Council England for its confidence in our vision of an infrastructure that supports the development of truly original, contemporary musical theatre and opera.”

James Dacre, Artistic Director, explained: “We at Royal & Derngate look forward to leading this national consortium of musical theatre and opera partners in addressing the barriers that have prevented the production of new music theatre specifically designed for mid-scale regional touring. As the distinctions between musical theatre, opera and plays with music are increasingly blurring, we shall support at least 150 artists to create a diverse range of truly original new work. These are exciting times. The will, the talent and the audience is out there but only through sharing the risk, the resources and expertise can this step change happen.”

Peter Knott, Area Director, Arts Council England said: “The project offers an opportunity to revitalise the creation of new musicals for mid-scale theatres. So, we’re delighted to be supporting Royal & Derngate and their partners to create a variety of completely original musical theatre, opera and artist development opportunities.

The financial and funding context in Northamptonshire is challenging for arts companies like the Royal & Derngate, so it’s great to see such ambition and enthusiasm which will bring interesting and diverse theatre to new audiences. We have seen amazing results from projects funded by the National Lottery through Ambition for Excellence, and look forward to seeing the impact of this project.