James McAvoy spearheads new campaign to help future generations of Scots pursue careers in the arts

Award-winning Scottish stage and screen star James McAvoy is to spearhead a new campaign to help ensure a new generation of performers can secure a place at his old drama school in Glasgow.

James McAvoy is one of the most successful former students at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Picture: KK Dundas
James McAvoy is one of the most successful former students at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. Picture: KK Dundas

The 41-year-old star of State of Play, Atonement, Filth and The Last King of Scotland has recorded a voiceover for a film showcasing the work of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland's students, staff and alumni.

He has also issued a rally cry for the scholarship schemes run by the RCS, including one which he helped set up five years ago.

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The Glasgow-born actor said it was more important than ever before that access to arts education was "accessible to all, regardless of background” in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The RCS launched the new campaign film, which features performances staged under lockdown restrictions, today to help raise new funding for its scholarships.

The campaign website states: “Never have the performing and production arts faced such a challenging period. We’re still here but we need your support. Give to the RCS Scholarship Fund and help to support the artists of the future right here in Scotland.

McAvoy went on to enjoy huge success in Hollywood and in London’s West End after graduating from the then Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in 2000.

He previously pledged £125,000 to pay for a 10-year scholarship programme to help fund places for people under the age of 25 who would otherwise be unable to afford to study there.

The RCS has a track record of producing some of Scotland’s best-known acting talent, including Bodyguard star Richard Madden, Doctor Who favourite David Tennant, Trainspotting star Robert Carlyle and Sam Heughan, who plays the lead role of Jamie Fraser in Outlander.

In his message of support for the campaign, McAvoy said: “At this time, possibly more ever, the arts and artists need to be seen and heard and recognised for the essential contribution they make.

"We’re still here, as are the next generation. That’s why access to arts education is so valuable and should be accessible to all, regardless of background.

"It’s why scholarship support is vital, to ensure that everyone gets a fair chance and that we have artists for the future who reflect our world, connect us and tell the stories that need to be told.”

Lecturers Laura-Beth Salter and Jenn Butterworth appear in the new campaign video for the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Professor Jeffrey Sharkey, RCS principal, said: “It means so much to us to have one of our own, actor James McAvoy, play a key part in our new scholarship campaign film.

"Financial barriers or otherwise should never stand in the way of potential. Our doors are open to the most promising young artists, at home and internationally, to help them fulfil their dreams.

“There is a unique energy and power in bringing different voices and backgrounds together and scholarships play a crucial role in making that happen.

"The arts are facing an unprecedented challenge but our students are still here, still creating and learning, and using their talents as a force for good.

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is hoping people will show their support for the arts by helping to fund its scholarships. Picture: Robert McFadzean

"We strongly believe the arts have never been more vital. Now, more than ever, we need to support those whose talents and dedication to their craft will bring us together and give us optimism, comfort and hope.”

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PhD music student Andrew Bova is among those appearing in the campaign video.
Ballet student Daisuke Sakain appears in the new campaign video.
Cellist Jalayne Mitchell is a current student at the RCS.
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