UK chamber orchestra wins people’s funding

A British chamber orchestra is to produce a musical for young people with learning and physical disabilities after winning a nationwide public vote.

Orchestra of the Swan, based in Stratford-upon-Avon, won GBP49,822 (€59,980) to fund Antony and Cleopatra – The Musical!

The cash was awarded by The People’s Millions, a partnership between the Big Lottery Fund and the broadcaster ITV, which sees the public choose where money should be allocated in local communities.

Taking place over the course of a year, the orchestra will work with children from schools in Stratford and Birmingham on workshops, rehearsals and a final performance.

Orchestra of the Swan artistic director, David Curtis, told IAM: ‘It’s great for the orchestra to have the funding, but really it’s about the project. The people who voted for us understood that we can make a difference to a community, whether that’s through our
work in care homes or special schools.’

He continued: ‘We’re all about enabling people to be the best that they can be. In this case we wanted to enable our supporters to feel empowered by the fact that they could make a difference to these children’s lives.’

Following TV and social media campaigns, the orchestra also received calls of support from individuals in Europe and Australia, as well as from the local area.

Volunteers backing the orchestra went about gathering support for the vote by campaigning door-to-door. ‘That really showed we weren’t just a group of middle-aged people in penguin suits playing Mozart,’ said Curtis. ‘We took the project to people rather than letting them come to us.’

It’s the latest in a string of success stories for the orchestra: earlier this year the ensemble signed a sponsorship deal with Turkish Airlines in a bid to broaden its international reach.