Major endowment secures future of RSC Education

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) has received a major grant from Paul Hamlyn Foundation (PHF) to support the future of the Company’s highly regarded work in schools across the UK, which sits at the heart of the Company.

The grant includes a   £7 million endowment, with the annual income generated by it used solely to support the RSCs work with young people, teachers and schools.

Alongside the endowment is a £500 000 grant to enable the RSC and its partner theatres and schools to start a longitudinal study into the impact of theatre-based approaches to Shakespeare‘s work on learning outcomes for children and young people. The RSC hopes that the research can make an important contribution to the case for arts rich schools and understanding the value and impact of arts-based learning, particularly for children experiencing disadvantage.  The research questions will be developed collaboratively, and school-led research hubs established nationally.  The research builds on a long-held commitment by PHF and the RSC to teachers as researchers.

Paul Hamlyn Foundation has supported the Company’s national education partnership programme since 2008.  RSC Education has a unique approach of using rehearsal room techniques to unlock Shakespeare for thousands of young people, teachers and parents in their communities.  The Company targets schools in areas of disadvantage and ongoing academic research confirms the positive impact of this work on the life choices of the students involved.

Talking about the major grant, Jacqui O’Hanlon, Director of RSC Education said:

“This endowment is extraordinary, especially coming in the midst of the hardest professional and personal test any of us has faced.  It is particularly welcome as schools face significant challenges in supporting the wellbeing needs of young people as well as ensuring basic skills, reading and writing.  No-one has the answers about what the future holds for society, education or arts and culture, but this award means that we can secure a future for this work, knowing that it contributes towards wellbeing, supports young people to find their voice, and discover more about themselves and who they want to be.

“The fact that Shakespeare’s work is a compulsory part of every child’s educational life has defined our educational mission. Every day we have the enormous privilege of working with thousands of inspirational teachers and young people regionally and nationally.  I am constantly in awe of our teacher colleagues who care so much for the children they teach and tirelessly work with us to co-create engaging experiences of Shakespeare’s work in classrooms and on stages.

“We thank Paul Hamlyn Foundation and will use the award responsibly, ensuring that the work it supports is underpinned by values dear to PHF and the RSC: supporting young people to overcome disadvantage and realise their full creative potential”.

The RSC Education approach of building long-term partnerships nationally has positively impacted on the attainment, behaviour and attitudes of the children and young people involved.  Over 500,000 students every year are reached through a range of activity including:

  • Sustained opportunities for the professional learning and development of teachers
  • Workshops and residencies led by artists and teachers
  • RSC productions performed in local schools and theatres through First Encounters with Shakespeare
  • Streaming RSC productions free to schools through nationwide schools’ broadcasts
  • Next Generation talent development programme for young people from backgrounds currently under-represented in the arts and cultural sector
  • Shakespeare Ambassadors programme for young people who want to play an arts leadership role in their schools and communities. This now includes over 700 Shakespeare Ambassadors aged 9 – 18 who have activated Shakespeare inspired arts project in their local communities.

Moira Sinclair, Chief Executive of PHF said:

“At Paul Hamlyn Foundation, our vision is for a just society, in which everyone, especially young people can realise their potential and lead fulfilling and creative lives. Access to arts and culture in school is an important contributor to that vision, and our trustees see that commitment reflected in every aspect of the RSC’s work.

“Education is absolutely at the heart of what the RSC does, enshrined within their practice and their values. We consider their approach to be an exemplar of cultural education practice, with extensive regional theatre and schools-led partnerships that target the schools and young people that might benefit most from their programmes, providing vivid experiences of live theatre and performance.

“We hope that a long-term endowment will help to ensure the future sustainability and innovation of this programme and its continued reach out into communities across the country, especially now. And vitally, we are providing resource to build a rigorous evidence base to demonstrate its impact and benefit. This, in turn, will provide tangible outcomes to support the wider creative sector and help make the case for cultural education practice at the heart of all our schools.

“Without doubt, it has been an extraordinarily challenging year for the cultural sector and the impact of such disruption is still being felt. We have been able to respond with emergency funding streams to be able to reflect that urgent need, but we also feel the need to underpin work we see as critical and influential for the long term. So we are proud and honoured to be able to support the RSC now and for the future.”

Nigel Hugill, RSC Chairman, added.

“The RSC education programme is central to all that the Company stands for.  Our long-time partnership with the Paul Hamlyn Foundation has proved consistently successful in bringing Shakespeare’s complex language to life by making it relevant, resonant and joyful to young people. The Trustees have recognised that success with a wonderfully generous endowment that is beyond extraordinary in these dismal times.  We know the tangible difference that captivating young audiences can make.  The funding safeguards our work in schools for future generations whilst also enabling us to demonstrate through research quantifiable positive impacts into adulthood.  We simply could not be more grateful, nor correspondingly more determined.”

Jacqui O’Hanlon concluded that:

“The importance of arts experiences and subjects has never been greater. It requires a workforce of specialist teachers, skilled freelance artists and a range of locally based theatres and community organisations to sustain it and all the benefits that flow from it.

“We will continue to work across the country in the delivery of arts education work, and we commit to doing everything we can to support the continuation of our complex, rich and diverse theatre arts ecology.”