Andrew Lloyd Webber
They celebrated more than just musical theater at the 70th annual Tony Awards June 12. It was announced Andrew Lloyd Webber was awarding $1.3 million to music and theater education in America.

The money will go towards helping talented students overcome economic barriers to pursue a career in the theater and provide state school drama teachers with the resources they need to nurture young talent in their schools, with a special emphasis on music.

The new 3-year ‘Andrew Lloyd Webber Initiative’ to be administered by the American Theatre Wing, which founded the Tony Awards, comes in response to the effect of extensive funding cuts on arts education, which has created vast inequalities between American schools in wealthy and poor districts.

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According to the group, theater education is now offered in only 4% of primary schools and 45% of secondary schools—and African-American and Hispanic students are getting less than half the access to arts education as their peers.

Funding will be provided directly to under-resourced public schools to provide instruments, dance floors, lighting grids, and other materials to help create new theater programs and enhance existing ones. Grants will also go towards covering the costs associated with sending select students to summer study, after school training programs and theatre studies at the University level.

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“I am passionate about the vital role of the arts in education. My career started in schools with  Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat premiered by a college in both Britain and the USA,” said Webber through his foundation, which has already boosted such programs in his own country of Great Britain. “Disgracefully the arts have too often borne the brunt of short-sighted cuts to educational budgets.”

“Our partnership with Andrew and his Foundation on this initiative will help us ensure that the long term ecology of the theater remains healthy, accessible, and inclusive,” added Heather Hitchens, President and CEO of the American Theatre Wing.

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