Royal & Derngate
Royal & Derngate

Arts Council England will invest more than £684,000 in aiding the development of original musical productions at Northampton's Royal and Derngate.

The initiative, which was first announced by Royal and Derngate's artistic director James Dacre in 2016, aims to produce four musicals over the next three years, with the shows created with the intention of touring the new musicals to mid-scale venues.

Royal and Derngate will also create a series of new commissions for pieces, a festival celebrating musical theatre talent, and a symposium reflecting on the modern state of musical theatre and opera. The theatre will also create and distribute one new musical digitally, for free via sharing platforms including YouTube.

China Plate, Improbable, Mercury Musicals Development, Musical Theatre Network, Perfect Pitch and Scottish Opera are all part of the consortium of companies aiding the new development of shows.

Dacre explained: "As the distinctions between musical theatre, opera and plays with music are increasingly blurring, we shall support at least 150 artists to create a diverse range of truly original new work. These are exciting times. The will, the talent and the audience is out there but only through sharing the risk, the resources and expertise can this step change happen."

The scheme runs as part of Arts Council England's Ambition for Excellence scheme, a fund developing artistic and cultural talent and giving an international dimension to work.

Arts Council England's area director Peter Knott said: "The financial and funding context in Northamptonshire is challenging for arts companies like the Royal and Derngate, so it's great to see such ambition and enthusiasm which will bring interesting and diverse theatre to new audiences."