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Our bursary scheme awards £36,500 to 9 local rising stars

Mayflower Theatre’s Higher Education Bursary Scheme awards £36,500 to nine local rising stars
Engage programme hits milestone 20,000 connections with people in Southampton and the surrounding area since 1 April 2023

The Higher Education Bursary Scheme is open to individuals between the ages of 18 – 25 who reside in Hampshire. Support is prioritised to those who are either attending a degree course or audition run by a member of The Federation of Drama and Dance Schools; experiencing financial or other hardship or who demonstrate outstanding commitment and achievement in their art form.

Michael Ockwell, Chief Executive of Mayflower Theatre says ‘I am delighted that we’ve been able to support nine such brilliant, dynamic and deserving individuals with our High Education Bursary Scheme this year, and we can’t wait to see what they do next. It is a huge privilege to be able to honour young talent locally each year by supporting their ambitions through this scheme.

The bursary scheme is one of the many initiatives that can be accessed as part of the various pathways offered by Mayflower’s Engage team.

One of the recipients for this year, Juliette Ashman, said,

I applied for the bursary to get involved with the networking and creative opportunities that Mayflower can offer as well as financial support for my postgraduate studies at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. The incredible productions that I saw at Mayflower Theatre during my younger years definitely inspired me to pursue a career in music (soprano voice and piano). I feel privileged to be a recipient of the Mayflower Bursary Scheme and I look forward to the opportunities entailed.

Another recipient, Mia Swann, described the scheme as ‘a great support to focus fully on training’ whilst Jade Cosgrave said that ‘everyone who wishes to pursue a career in theatre should be able to access training regardless of their background and it’s wonderful bursaries like Mayflower’s that enable this’.

Mayflower’s Engage Team run 27 different projects through the year in their Education and Youth provision, with the aim to engage as many young people from the local area as possible in the arts through creative learning, in order develop young audiences for the future. They also aim to provide open access to the theatre’s programme and heritage for all ages, enriching the inspiring experiences that can be offered.

Patrick O’Sullivan, Head of Creative Learning, said ‘I am extremely proud of the team who have worked really hard to engage and reach out to our community in the past year. We launched a number of new projects and initiatives and truly believe that engagements in the arts enhance the lives of our participants. We look forward to growing our reach across the city and beyond.’

Some of their headline projects in 2023 included HONK! the Summer Youth Project, which saw 138 participants involved; A Christmas Carol, the Christmas Youth Project which saw 51 participants involved; the Youth Theatre groups, Young Writers and Elevate Ensemble.

Mayflower Engage’s work also sees them connect with local schools in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the city – with half of the schools targeted having more than 15% of pupils on Free School Meals. The Engage work with schools includes Play Creators, Production Insights and Theatre Pass, all of which provide young people the chance to engage with the arts in a way they might not otherwise get the chance to.

Mayflower Engage Team offer opportunities for adults to get involved through volunteering with the theatre’s heritage. The Open Voices programme gives the over 55’s a chance to come together weekly, with the aim to promote mental wellbeing and fighting against loneliness. Another choir, in partnership with Carers Southampton, gives adult carers a chance to get respite and improve their wellbeing through singing.

Mayflower Engage was created in 2013 the year after Chief Executive and Creative Director Michael Ockwell joined Mayflower Theatre. Michael joined with the passion to nurture future audiences and engage as many people in the arts as possible. The first major project for Mayflower Engage was the 2013 Summer Youth Project, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. The premiere of the project, Bugsy Malone, will be the title that is also staged in 2024.

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