Andrew Lloyd Webber charity steps in to save axed Weekend Arts College lessons

Published: July 28, 2011

MUSIC lessons for young people that were facing the axe due to government cuts have been saved by a charity bankrolled by impresario Andrew Lloyd Webber.

The courses, at the Weekend Arts College based in Hampstead Town Hall, were due to close after all funding by the Arts Council was withdrawn. But WAC, whose alumni includes rapper Ms Dynamite, pianist Julian Joseph and actress Marianne Jean-Baptiste, have been successful in applying to Lord Lloyd Webber’s charity that supports the performing arts. The foundation have said they will provide funds to pay for music tutors for older teenagers for the next three years.

The charity was set up in 1992 by Lloyd Webber. The figure given to WAC has not been revealed, but is part of a larger, £1million donation made to the college, Rada, the Theatre Royal at Stratford East and the Bush Theatre.

Andrew Lloyd Webber has refused to make any press statements regarding the cash gift, but his wife, Madeleine, who is a trustee of the charity, told the New Journal why they had decided to step in and help WAC.

She said: “WAC is not just about providing training for the really ­talented – who will eventually find their way to the top  anyway – it is about all ranges of abilities having the chance to go somewhere at the weekends if they enjoy singing, acting, performing or playing a musical instrument.

“Many state schools simply can’t provide after-school tuition, and it is so expensive to do this privately, yet it is terribly important to give everyone the chance to express themselves. With the Arts Council cutting left, right and centre, there are some fantastic organisations with fantastic people who will wither and die without support. It’s nice to feel you can give back. 

“Andrew’s been lucky in his life and he’s passionate about young people and giving opportunities to them.” And she called on Hampstead’s rich residents to step up to the plate and help.

She said: “This might just prompt a few more people in the area to help. There must be some people with funds they can spare, and an extra £10,000 here and there makes a massive difference.”

WAC director Celia Greenwood said: “We feel honoured to be included as part of this prestigious group of arts organisations to receive funding from the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation.”

See John Gulliver