Too poor for performing arts?

Social mobility and diversity in the arts have been hotly debated over the years with fears that working-class children are being denied the opportunity to participate due to rising costs of training.

Stars such as Benedict Cumberbatch and Eddie Redmayne were cited as typical of those at performing arts colleges who came from privileged backgrounds with fears being that it was becoming increasingly difficult for working-class talent to succeed.

Denise Hutton-Gosney, MD and Founder of Razzamataz Theatre Schools has her own personal experience of being priced out of college as she explains: “I actually gained a scholarship to go to college but I still had no money to live and to buy the shoes and equipment I needed. I couldn’t pay my rent so I had no other option but to leave.”

Denise’s passion to perform and drive and determination meant that she would regularly get the overnight bus from Scotland to London to audition and her tenacity enabled her to gain professional employment before she took the leap into setting up her own theatre school. Coming from a working-class background herself, her one dream was to make performing arts as accessible to as many young people as possible.

Razzamataz Theatre Schools has been offering young performers the chance to win a scholarship consisting of a year’s free tuition, worth approximately £600, with their local Razzamataz in association with The Stage newspaper since 2010. As a company, Razzamataz has given around £30,000 worth of scholarships every year, accumulating to circa £200,000 worth of scholarship places over the years across the UK.

This exciting partnership has enabled young people across the UK to get involved in performing arts, many for the first time. It has also given students the confidence to go on and secure prestigious places at college and university.

“Winning a scholarship with The Stage has been wonderful for the students and given them the belief in themselves to go on and achieve their dreams,” adds Denise. “As a business, we have helped lots of families over the years and inspired young people to enjoy the theatre arts and that is one of my proudest achievements.”

Remembering her own financial struggle at college was the driving force for Denise and the Razzamataz schools to set up their own charity called Future Fund, which helps fund students in performing arts colleges once they leave Razzamataz.

“The charity was set up in 2008 to give back to the students and their families who have been with us over the years,” says Denise. “Had I been given the chance to audition for additional funds to help with my living costs, it would have been a lifeline for me. To date, we have raised more than £50,000 and supported many students who may not have been able to complete their courses without the extra funding.”

Razzamataz Theatre Schools are also very proud of the 50% sibling discounts they offer, which has made a huge difference to many families trying to offer their children wonderful opportunities.

“Everyone at Razzamataz is passionate about the benefits of performing arts to children and young people,” adds Denise. “We will continue to make sure that this is an area where all children can have opportunities regardless of their economic background.”

If you would like to open your own theatre school and join the network of Principals, Razzamataz holds regular Discovery Den days across the UK where potential franchisees get a chance to meet the head office team, find out more about franchising in general and discover what it is like to run a part-time theatre school.

If you would like to find out more about becoming part of our team and attending a Discovery Den, Chat to Head of Recruitment Suzie on E:[email protected] or call 07793 054 233.