Actor James McAvoy has voiced his support for the arts in a new film urging people to support future students through a fundraising campaign.
The Hollywood star narrates a short film that shows how Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) students have found ways to practise during the coronavirus pandemic with the message #WeAreStillHere.
It launches a new scholarship campaign to ensure arts students of the future can secure places at the institution, a conservatoire of music, drama, dance, production and film in Glasgow.
The film features music from pianist and composer Fergus McCreadie, an RCS graduate and scholarship recipient himself, interwoven with McAvoy describing how it feels to be a performer during the pandemic.
McAvoy, who was brought up in Drumchapel, Glasgow, and is also an RCS graduate, 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.”
In 2015, the X-Men and His Dark Materials actor funded the 10-year James McAvoy Drama Scholarship, which supports applicants who would otherwise find meeting the cost of tuition fees a barrier to accessing pre-higher education drama training at RCS.
He is also patron of the RCS’s Junior Conservatoire of Drama.
The RCS scholarship fund supports approximately one-third of incoming and continuing undergraduate and postgraduate students from the UK, the EU and internationally based on merit and financial need.
Professor Jeffrey Sharkey, principal of the RCS, 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 #WeAreStillHere.
“As patron of our Junior Conservatoire of Drama, James is passionate about making the performing arts accessible for all.
“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.”
He added: “There is a unique energy and power in bringing different voices and backgrounds together and scholarships play a crucial role in making that happen.
“They enable students from around the world to study here in Scotland, not only enriching their lives but the national artistic landscape.
“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.
“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.”
Colleen Bell, a second-year BA film-making student and scholarship recipient, said: “I can’t express enough how much I would not be here if it wasn’t for the scholarship.
“I feel this overwhelming sense of gratitude that because of other people, I am here.”
Donations can be made at rcs.ac.uk/scholarships