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York Performance Award guaranteed for the next five years

Posted on 29 January 2020

Thanks to a generous endowment from Barbara and Ronald Cooke, the Award’s future is secured

The Award, which has been running for a number of years, provides a grant of £1,000 to one or more companies of graduating-year students, one of whom must be from the Departments of Theatre, Film, Television and Interactive Media (TFTI), Music, or English and Related Literature, to take a professional performance project to venues beyond York.

Alongside helping students with their career development, the Award helps to advertise the quality of the performance work at York in locations further afield. Not all the students involved have to be performers: some, for example, may be producers or technicians.

While funding for the award was previously renewed on an annual basis, Ron Cooke, who was Vice-Chancellor of the University from 1993 to 2002, and his wife Barbara have been sufficiently impressed by the work and new initiatives produced by the recipients of this award that they have guaranteed funding for a further five years.

On the award, Cooke said that: “York students have a formidable record of great public performances in music, theatre and the media, on campus and beyond. The University had one of the first terrestrial licenced radio stations after the BBC, and York students have helped to create Hat Trick Productions, Mentorn and many other enterprises.

“These awards give student groups, from any part of the University, a chance to test their talents at the Edinburgh Festival and elsewhere, as a useful, high profile stepping stone towards their professional careers and future bookings.”

Michael Cordner, Ken Dixon Professor of Drama at TFTI, said that the “York Performance Award has had a transformative effect for students graduating from TFTI, Music, and English who aim for a career in performance. It enables at least one group each year to launch a company tour to venues beyond York, and begin to develop the track record and industry contacts that can open further professional doors for them.

“We are enormously grateful to Ron and Barbara Cooke for their foresight and generosity in endowing this wonderful scheme.”

The winner of the 2019 grant, Rocket Box Theatre, will return to TFTI for a performance on Saturday 1 February as part of their tour of Alice Birch’s acclaimed play Many Moons. Previous recipients include Squabbling House Theatre’s production of Nick Payne’s Constellations.