Northampton theatre receives £684,000 injection to produce four new musicals

The Royal & Derngate has received a 600,000 cash boost.
The Royal & Derngate has received a 600,000 cash boost.

Arts Council England is investing £684,075 in Royal & Derngate’s project to produce four original musicals, support 150 artists and create a step-change in the way new musical theatre is created.

Arts Council England is supporting the Royal & Derngate as part of the Ambition for Excellence scheme, a National Lottery fund to develop artistic and cultural talent and leadership.

Over the next three years, the funding will allow Royal & Derngate to encourage a range of writers, composers and theatre-makers to create original new work suitable for mid-scale touring.

Martin Sutherland chief executive at Royal & Derngate said: “We’re delighted with this news and would like to thank Arts Council England for its confidence in our vision of an infrastructure to support the development of truly original, contemporary musical theatre and opera.”

This will include four new theatre productions, a festival showcasing a range of new touring musicals, a symposium focussing upon musical theatre and a variety of artist development programmes.

The theatre will also create and distribute one new musical digitally, for free via sharing platforms including YouTube.

James Dacre artistic director at Royal & Derngate said: “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.”

With partners including China Plate, Improbable, Mercury Musicals Development, Musical Theatre Network, Perfect Pitch and Scottish Opera, the theatre says it is aiming to bring the work of BAME and disabled artists to new audiences.

Peter Knott area director at 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.”

A total £3,249,087 investment from the Arts Council’s Ambition for Excellence fund has been shared between eight projects across the country.