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Performing Arts Fund gives backing to theatre

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BBC charity the Performing Arts Fund will focus solely on supporting the theatre industry for the first time this year, with a total of £450,000 available to the professional and community sectors.

The charity, which earns money through public voting on shows such as The Voice on BBC1, will finance two theatre-based schemes in 2013. One will award a total of £200,000 to professional theatre organisations looking to host a fellowship, while the other will give the community sector £250,000 to spend on training and development.

This is the first year the charity has only supported theatre, following on from its dance focus in 2011 and its music schemes last year. Prior to this, it funded a variety of music and theatre initiatives annually, with previous theatre funding having tended to focus on musical theatre training.

The PAF said this year’s schemes are aimed at “opening up the grants to a wider theatre world”.

The first initiative launched is the Theatre Fellowships scheme, under which 20 grants of £10,000 will be awarded to enable theatre companies, organisations, venues and festivals across the UK to support individuals, such as writers, producers, directors and actors, in the early stages of their career.

PAF director Miriam O’Keeffe explained: “The idea is that this scheme is a little bit more bespoke than the previous musical funding we offered, which was about funding students to attend a school like Arts Ed or Mountview – a set route that people followed. When we looked into doing a fellowship scheme, we found there was a gap in that period once someone has finished their training or studying. So this is about giving those people their first break and the skills they would not necessarily get from their training.”

The Theatre Fellowships scheme is now open for applications and will close on July 22.

O’Keeffe said the community scheme has not yet been finalised, but will open for applications in June and will offer grants of up to £5,000 to groups that want to focus on “training and development” and “improve their skills, be more ambitious, try something new or raise their profile”.

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