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£100,000 to help the Royal Academy of Music build a new theatre and recital hall

This week the Richard Lewis/Jean Shanks Trust donated £100,000 to the Royal Academy of Music to enable it to complete funding for part of its new theatre, which is due to start construction within its Marylebone main campus.

Founder and trustee Elizabeth Muir-Lewis travelled to London to hand over the cheque to the Royal Academy of Music's Principal, Professor Jonathan Freeman-Attwood (see above).

In attendance in the Principal's office were several key members of the academy's vocal school including Gareth Hancock (Head of Opera), Mark Wildman (Head of Vocal Studies), Mark Racz (Deputy Principal), Tim Jones (Deputy Principal -Programmes and Research), Chris Loake (Senior Administrator - Vocal & Opera), Joana Witkowski (Head of Fundraisin) and Kate Birch (Philanthropy Manager). Richard's two sons, Michael and Nigel, also attended (see pic below).

"Everything the Royal Academy of Music does is so marvelous and accomplished so well, which is why we have always felt so enormously comfortable helping fund its singers via the Richard Lewis Award, and now the construction of its new theatre," said Elizabeth Muir Lewis.

The £100,000 is being given to the Royal Academy of Music with a specific part of the new theatre's fit-out in mind, as it will pay for all the high-tech winches that will move scenery during opera productions.

"The winches have a particularly unusual story behind them," said Jonathan Freeman-Attwood. "Unlike many other aspects of a new theatre, once you commit to a certain number of winches and then start construction, there is no going back and during the relatively late budgeting for the theatre we realised we were winches short.

"Then the cavalry came over the hill in the form of the Richard Lewis-Jean Shanks Trust and we now have the opportunity to get the best speification of winch that the theatre needs."

The Royal Academy of Music is replacing its existing theatre with superb new facilities designed by award-winning architect Ian Ritchie, who has a strong record in theatres and halls and who designed the Royal Shakespeare Company's Courtyard Theatre in Stratford upon Avon.The new theatre will include 40% more seats and a rooftop recital hall seating an audience of 100. Read more about the new theatre here.

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