University of Winchester and Theatre Royal Partnership

28 Feb 2023

The University of Winchester and Play to the Crowd are thrilled to announce a significant strategic partnership. The University of Winchester will become Play to the Crowd's Principal Education Investing Partner.

The five-year partnership will provide unrivalled opportunities for their students at Theatre Royal Winchester and our Outdoor Arts Festival Hat Fair, providing vital learning and experience for future theatre makers and performers.

Students from the Faculty of Arts will present, on the theatre’s historic stage, their end of year showcase performances as well as having the opportunity to perform some work in progress pieces in the theatre’s foyer event space.

As one of the UK’s most loved and distinctive Outdoor Arts festivals, Hat Fair is renowned for developing and showcasing young and emerging artists.  The festival offers University of Winchester students and graduates the opportunity to take part in the ‘Top Hat Competition’ to win mentoring and show development with the Hat Fair artistic team and a spot in the following year’s Hat Fair programme.

Deryck Newland, Chief Executive of Play to the Crowd, comments “We are delighted with our new partnership with University of Winchester. This investment is significant not only to Play to the Crowd and the university, but also the wider city of Winchester. The partnership allows us to continue in our mission to delight and unite our community, inspiring residents to connect with and participate in live performance as well as nurturing the talent of future artists. The power of live performance can bring social cohesion, improve a community’s health and wellbeing, and helps create a vibrant locality in which to live, work and play. We believe this investment is a major boost to the cultural and educational ecology of the city and wider district.”

Sarah Greer, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Winchester, says, “The work Play to the Crowd does across the city is important in so many ways – nurturing, inspiring, uniting and delighting our community. The University of Winchester is proud to be the charity’s Principal Education Investing Partner because, like Play to the Crowd, we want to see our city and surrounding area grow and flourish. This partnership will help us to make an ever greater contribution as an anchor institution in the city to help meet the needs and aspirations of local communities, supporting wellbeing and nurturing a flourishing cultural life.”  

The start of this new partnership was celebrated with an event at Theatre Royal Winchester. Guests were welcomed by Chief Executive of Play to the Crowd Deryck Newland; Mark Byford, Play to the Crowd’s Chair of Trustees; and Vice Chancellor of University of Winchester Professor Sarah Greer. Attendees were then treated to a short performance from students on the Musical Theatre course of 'Being Alive' from Stephen Sondheim’s Company, before being invited to enjoy Le Navet Bete’s professional production of Treasure Island.

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