The Orchestra of the Swan has been awarded £49,822 by the national grants programme The People’s Millions for its schools project Antony and Cleopatra ‒ The Musical!
The programme, which is run by the Big Lottery Fund in partnership with ITV, distributes grants of up to £50,000 to community projects throughout the United Kingdom. The recipients are chosen by the general public by telephone vote from a regional shortlist drawn up by the organisers.
Antony and Cleopatra ‒ The Musical! will involve children from Welcombe Hills School in Stratford-upon-Avon and Brays School in Birmingham, both special schools.
Jane Edgerton, head teacher of Brays, said, ‘We are simply thrilled that Orchestra of the Swan has been successful in their bid to The People’s Millions. Our children are very special and Anthony and Cleopatra ‒ The Musical! is a tremendous opportunity for our children to work with this wonderful orchestra.’
Beginning in early 2014, children will take part in workshops and rehearsals with the orchestra and professional singers, culminating in public performances towards the end of the year.
The Stratford-based orchestra is collaborating with Coventry theatre company Talking Birds to create the project which will be written by Nick Walker with music by Derek Nisbet, directed by Peter Cann. It will be the companies’ third schools collaboration together, following their earlier Homer-inspired productions Space Odyssey and Troy Story, the latter nominated for a 2014 Music Teacher magazine Award for Excellence in the ‘best musical initiative’ category.
David Curtis, artistic director of Orchestra of the Swan, said: ‘This is an incredibly exciting opportunity for us to work with wonderful children, their teachers and support staff. Through Central TV, Twitter, Facebook and other media, over 500,000 people now know about Antony and Cleopatra ‒ The Musical! and we very much hope that our new friends will follow us and these children on our journey next year.’
While other music projects have been supported by The People’s Millions since it began in 2005, this is the first award made to an orchestra-run project. In all, The People’s Millions has made 523 awards worth more than £27.8 million. Many of these have funded projects benefiting young and disadvantaged people, as well as performance, community building and regeneration work, sports facilities and leisure activities.
The 2013 round of awards has a total budget of £3.8 million and will benefit 76 projects, four per ITV region.
Details of the 2014 scheme will be announced in the new year, with the application period expected to open in the spring.