The Evening Standard and TikTok launch Future Theatre Fund

The Evening Standard and TikTok yesterday announced the launch of the Evening Standard Future Theatre Fund, created to support the next generation of theatre makers.

The Evening Standard and TikTok launch Future Theatre Fund
Evgeny Lebedev: “We are determined to provide tangible support to the sector.” Photograph: Gwen O on Unsplash.

Developed as a response to the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the UK’s arts landscape, the Evening Standard Future Theatre Fund will play a role in supporting a sector that makes a vital contribution to the social and cultural fabric of the nation, say the publishers.

While the Evening Standard Theatre Awards, the oldest theatrical awards in the UK, are not taking place this year due to the pandemic, this new fund will help kick-start the careers of 12 emerging theatre talents across different disciplines, representing the best of future British theatre makers.

Each recipient will receive £10,000 from the fund, which will be managed by Act IV, as well as mentoring to progress their careers in the theatre.

The fund will be awarded to ten recent graduates from the UK’s top drama schools and nominees from theatre programmes working across different disciplines. Two promising candidates will also be selected for the TikTok Breakout Award - the first of its kind to award funding to those who may not have received formal training in drama to begin their career in theatre.

Candidates for the TikTok Breakout Award will be able to submit their nominations on TikTok through a brand new hashtag challenge #TikTokBreakoutStar that goes live on 26th November. People will be able to nominate themselves by creating a TikTok video that brings to life their passion for the industry and showcases the unique creative talent they can offer.

Each recipient of the Fund will undergo a rigorous selection process, led by a panel of experts including icons of British theatre Andrew Lloyd Webber, Helen McCrory and Kwame Kwei-Armah alongside Nancy Durrant, Arts Editor of the Evening Standard, Rich Waterworth, General Manager of TikTok UK and Paul Roseby, Artistic Director of the National Youth Theatre, who will chair the panel.

The fund comes at a critical time when the next generation of theatre makers is set to bear the biggest long-term impact from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Evgeny Lebedev, Proprietor of the Evening Standard, commented: “In 2019, the Evening Standard Theatre Awards celebrated the outstanding achievements of London’s theatre for the 65th year. Now in this time of unprecedented pressure for the industry, we are determined to provide tangible support to the sector.

“I am therefore immensely proud that our Evening Standard Future Theatre Fund will support some of the finest emerging talent that will make up the heart of theatre in London’s West End and beyond. This initiative is a crucial investment in our cultural capital that will allow our beloved theatre to return with a bang as soon as possible.”

Deborah Rosenegk, Chief Client Officer, Evening Standard, added: “We are delighted to be in a position to support the theatre industry at such a crucial time with the launch of our Evening Standard Theatre Fund in association with our partner TikTok. The Evening Standard has huge legacy in supporting theatre and we are thrilled to be partnering with TikTok who have confirmed their commitment to nurturing and promoting creative talent in the UK. Together we have created a multi-platform content partnership providing a much-needed showcase for emerging future theatre makers and their work.”

Richard Waterworth, General Manager for TikTok UK, commented: "Every day on TikTok we see the breadth and depth of creative talent that the UK has to offer. Often with just the props in their front room, TikTok creators use their creativity, ingenuity and wit to bring to life an idea through video, sharing it with our community to make them laugh, smile or experience something new. We're delighted to be working with the Evening Standard for the Future Theatre Fund to celebrate the next generation of theatre makers - from the raw creative talent just considering a life in theatre, to the professionally trained graduates who have spent years developing their craft. We hope this Fund will be the firestarter people need to begin their careers, at a time when the industry really needs support from everyone who values the performing arts."