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The Stage Scholarships 2015: D&B School of Performing Arts

Previous winners Rachel Rawlinson and Daniel Bell at The Stage New Year Party. Photo: Alex Brenner

It’s the fourth time that the D&B School of Performing Arts has taken part in The Stage Scholarships scheme. The Sullivan sisters who founded the school in 1988 – ex-dancer Donna and former actor Bonnie – are well aware of how difficult it is for potential students to afford the kind of intensive quality training the school offers. Once again they are offering two scholarships – each worth £24,075 (a total of £48,150) – covering full fees for D&B’s full-time musical theatre course. That’s three years training at the headquarters in Bromley, south-east London, which has seven excellent studios, a studio theatre and state-of-the-art sound systems.

Donna Sullivan says: “We are so proud to offer two full scholarships to individuals who might not otherwise be able to pursue their dream career. We aim to find the most talented people whose financial circumstances might not match their determination, passion and desire to pursue a career within the performing arts. With a curriculum covering TV, film and theatre, we train our students for all aspects of the industry.”

The college is very selective and, with a maximum intake of 25 per year, every student is treated as an individual

One of last year’s scholarship winners, 18-year-old Charlotte Spooner, is impressed by the standards of teaching at D&B: “The teachers are amazing and so knowledgeable about the industry, plus we have guest classes every week and different experts from stage and TV shows – Miss Saigon, Matilda, The X Factor – have already visited us. I know I will receive such good all-round training at D&B.”

First-class professionalism is a priority for Donna and Bonnie, but equally important is nurturing a close-knit community. This is shown in their involvement in the everyday running of the school and the decision to keep the intake low.

Donna says: “The college is very selective and, with a maximum intake of 25 per year, every student is treated as an individual. We know the students inside out and encourage them while making sure that no one slips under the radar.”

Sixteen-year-old Annalise Liard-Bailey, also a winner last year, began attending D&B’s part-time theatre school at the age of four, so she has seen the difference small classes have on training: “It makes you feel so safe and there is a feeling that everyone supports and trusts each other. The school has become my second home. Donna and Bonnie are such approachable people. Along with the other teachers, they know everyone’s strengths and weaknesses and help us reach our goals.”

Part of D&B’s ethos is to encourage students to work professionally in short-term engagements while training, through the school’s agency D&B Management, all of which gives them invaluable experience. Recent credits have included leading roles in top BBC dramas, West End productions and touring musicals such as Saturday Night Fever.

This approach didn’t do past student and patron Marvin Humes – formerly of JLS and a host on The Voice UK – any harm. Previous scholarship winners, such as young actor Rachel Rawlinson, have also enjoyed success. Through the D&B agency, Rawlinson has already had five West End engagements, all before her graduation this year.

Donna continues: “Of course, if an amazing opportunity comes in for our students, we don’t hold them back. Jacqueline Jossa was in her first year when the brief for Lauren Branning in EastEnders came in and we thought she would be perfect. She went on to win best newcomer at the National Television Awards and the TV Choice Award for best actress. We’re confident we made the right decision!”

But now it’s your chance to find out if this intimate, professional environment is the perfect place for you to begin your career in the arts. See details below.

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