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New charity launched to tackle "extortionate" arts education fees

Fiona Laird has announced the launch of the National Youth Arts Trust, with patrons including Adrian Lester and Derek Jacobi

Ewan McGregor is one of the charity's patrons

Theatre director and writer Fiona Laird has announced the launch of a new charity, The National Youth Arts Trust, that aims to provide young people with better access to the arts.

The National Youth Arts Trust will support schemes that grant young people, aged between 7 and 25, an arts education regardless of their background. The schemes that have already piloted with the charity's funding include training bursaries, financial support for those attending recall auditions at LAMDA/RADA, support for training providers, and apprenticeships in partnership with the care charity Drive Forward.

With a patron list including Derek Jacobi, Ewan McGregor, Hugh Bonneville, Adrian Lester, Christopher Eccleston, Arlene Phillips, Alistair McGowan and Grayson Perry, the NYAT hopes to tackle an issue that is very close to their patrons hearts:

"If I were 18 today I doubt whether I would be able to afford to go to drama school. The National Youth Arts Trust has been started so that everyone, whatever their background or financial status, can have the chance for an education in the arts. Being skint shouldn't be a barrier to going to drama school for those talented enough to be accepted. I am proud to be a patron of this important new charity." - Ewan McGregor

"In the current climate, an increasing number of young people do not benefit from an education in the performing arts, nor from the opportunities for vocational training. The National Youth Arts Trust, of which I am proud to be a patron, is being established to play a part in addressing this issue head-on." - Hugh Bonneville

The National Youth Arts Trust is filling a vital gap in arts education funding by working to ensure that the performing arts do not become a luxury only for children whose parents can afford it. This is a very important venture and as a patron I support it wholeheartedly. I would not have been able to pay for my training, my food, or keep a roof over my head without the help of funding bodies that no longer exist. There is a gap in funding arts students, The NYATis working to fill that gap. When we look at our young artists we should ask how much talent they have, not how much money." ''- Adrian Lester

"The founding of the National Youth Arts Trust is a direct response to the current crisis in arts education funding. The presence of drama, music and dance in schools is rapidly diminishing. The links that 1000s of disadvantaged younger children have to youth arts groups have been and are continuing to be cut, and any access they may have to seeing and participating in performing arts being removed through lack of funds. Artistic and creative talent is handed out equally, and yet the ability to develop and nurture these talents is now dependent almost entirely on personal circumstance. We need to train the best, not just the richest, are given the opportunity work in the performing arts" - Fiona Laird, founder and director.

For further information on the National Youth Arts Trust and on how to donate visit their website.