The UK National Lottery's Big Lottery Fund has awarded a £293,500 grant to the Blue Apple Theater in Hampshire—a charity that organizes theater and dance classes for adult actors who have learning difficulties.
Allocated via the Big Lottery's Reaching Communities project the grant will be used to fund extra classes and pay for an administrative manager.
Blue Apple Theatre's present classes are held at the Tower Arts Center at King's School, Winchester, with further classes being provided at The Discovery Center and, if the new funds stretch that far, the charity it is hoping to expand its reach to areas outside the city.
Blue Apple Theatre was formed by Jane Jessop in 2005. Her son Tommy, 29, is the first British actor with Down's syndrome to star in a BBC prime time TV Show. Tommy starred alongside Nicholas Hoult in the BAFTA nominated BBC Drama Coming Down the Mountain.
Blue Apple Theater's present membership consists of 70 actors. Their most recent production was Tales from the Arabian Nights, performed last weekend at the Theater Royal Winchester.
On hearing the application for funding had been successful Blue Apple's chairman Paul Lewis said: "This money will allow us to consolidate what we do. We have a long waiting list of people who want to take part. A lot of people with learning difficulties are segregated from society; for quite a few of our members coming to our sessions once or more a week is a big event in their lives."
Each year the Big Lottery distributes 40% of the money the UK National Lottery set aside for good causes. The money is used to provide assistance to community groups and projects that are believed to have a positive impact on health education and the environment.