A trust set up by actor Michael Jibson to help young people in Hull and East Yorkshire access drama school training has received a major boost just weeks into its existence, thanks to the creation of a £1.3 million charitable fund.
The Hull and East Yorkshire Arts and Culture Trust, founded last month by the Olivier award-winning actor and producer Andrew Pearson, will now be involved in the distribution of more than £1 million left for good causes by a local resident in her will.
The trust, known as HEYACT, was created to help young people from low-income backgrounds in the region access drama school auditions, amid increasing criticism over the costs associated with applying for professional training.
Jibson and Pearson had intended to begin fundraising by persuading Hull’s business community to donate money to the trust.
However, they will now assist in distributing a significant share of a £1.3 million estate left by Audrey Mosey, from Cottingham in Hull, who died last year. The I Am Fund was launched last week in her name, managed by the East Yorkshire-based charitable organisation, the Smile Foundation.
Pearson said: “One of the things Audrey wanted to see was young people have access to arts training. [HEY Smile] said they knew that was what we were trying to do, and asked whether we could work together to make [the money] go where it needs to go the most, which is great.”
“We thought we were going to have to go out with cap in hand and build it up,” he added.
It has not yet been confirmed how much of the £1.3 million will directly fund the performing arts, as some of it is being earmarked for other good causes, but Pearson said he understood that it would be a “heavy portion” of the total.
Jibson, who is from Hull, described the developments as “extraordinary”.
“We’re thrilled, because we were looking to start with £500 from somebody to pay for audition fees, and we potentially might be able to hit the ground running and start sorting people out more significantly, which would be incredible,” he said.
The windfall would help legitimise the trust and could encourage businesses to provide match funding, he added.
Jibson said HEYACT had been formed out of a frustration with the cost of auditioning for drama school, which he said puts up a barrier for many people in Hull and East Yorkshire and means fewer performers from this area go on to enter the industry.
Many drama schools charge about £50 for an audition. However, pressure from the industry has resulted in some colleges scrapping or reducing their audition fees.
Last week, LAMDA director Sarah Frankcom announced she would be cutting the cost of a first audition at the school from £54 to £12.
Launching the I Am Fund, the HEY Smile Foundation’s chief executive Andrew Barber said: “Audrey’s legacy will go on to help thousands of people for many years to come, improving the local community, inspiring the talented and investing in those organisations who provide platforms for individuals and communities to shine.”