Arts Council England has announced an investment package of nearly £0.7 million to fund Northampton-based Royal & Derngate’s three-year programme to create original musical productions for mid-scale theatres.
The £684,000 investment is part of ACE’s Ambition for Excellence scheme to develop artistic talent with an international appeal.
Royal & Derngate will work with a national consortium of partners from both the musical and opera sectors. Among these are China Plate, Improbable, Mercury Musicals Development, Musical Theatre Network, Perfect Pitch and Scottish Opera.
In addition to producing four new musicals, the Royal & Derngate will create and distribute one new show digitally for free sharing.
James Dacre, Royal & Derngate artistic director, commented:
“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.”
Further highlights of the investment will include a series of original commissions, a festival showcasing a range of new touring musicals, a symposium focusing upon musical theatre and opera and a variety of artist development programmes.
Announcing the project, ACE area director Peter Knott said it offered an opportunity to revitalise the creation of new musicals for mid-scale theatres, plus “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,” he added.
“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.”