Vision Centre for Actors is offer acting classes for free, taking in a cohort of 32 actors over the next year. This actor training centre is the first of its kind in Birmingham, targeting those coming from financial hardship.
Vision will address the disparity in class within the theatre and television industry by providing young people with the tools they need but may not be able to afford, to pursue a career in the arts.
Taking a cohort of 32 students every year, students will have access to free auditions and workshops with drama schools through partnerships including ALRA, LAMDA and RCSSD. Throughout the year, students will participate in talks and workshops with industry professionals such as casting directors, agents and production company representatives, completing the course with a package to be industry ready including showreels, headshots and showcases. Auditions for the 21/22 cohort are being held on Saturday 2, Sunday 3 and Tuesday 5 October at Birmingham Hippodrome.
Founded by actor and writer Corey Weekes, Vision will begin to redress the imbalance within the theatre industry, be a beacon of working-class artists and an agent for change.
Founder Corey Weekes said: “This was only made possible thanks to public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England and we are so grateful, as this year, research has found that only 27% of actors come from a working-class background. It’s time for young people who come from underprivileged backgrounds to truly be able to follow their dreams if they so wish to. Financial strain should not make anyone’s aspirations feel unreachable and that’s what we look to change here at Vision.
Corey adds: “When I initially wanted to get into acting, I had all the passion and drive to learn but unfortunately none of the money to afford the classes on offer in Birmingham. I was lucky enough to be blessed with mentorship of a great teacher in Philip Hedley, but I couldn’t help but wonder how many young people give up on their dreams because they were not afforded that same blessing. I started Vision to provide hope to young people from humble beginnings that they can make their dreams materialise.”
Vision have also teamed with Bouncing Statistic to ensure that the students develop not only professionally, but personally. Director of Business Development Rackeem Reid says: “Bouncing Statistics is a community interest company placed at the heart of serving others. They are on a mission to create a world where generations are inspired to look beyond their normality. They do this by delivering mentoring and wellbeing sessions to young people who occupy a multitude of settings.”
Chris Sudworth, Director of Artistic Programme at Birmingham Hippodrome added: “We are delighted to be partnering with Vision to be able to open our space for aspiring actors who want to sharpen their skills and progress towards the careers they’re aiming for. Working with Corey and his team gives us a way to make sure the Hippodrome is open for anyone who wants to push themselves forward and that money isn’t a barrier to do that.”
Vision Centre for Actors are supported by Arts Council England, Birmingham Hippodrome, the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts, London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts, Central School of Speech and Drama, Sandwell College, Vision Patrons Director Emiritus of Theatre Royal Stratford East Philip Hedley and Deputy Artistic Director of the National Theatre Clint Dyer