1. ITV Report

Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville backs new fund for aspiring actors

Hugh Bonneville in our studio earlier today Photo:

Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville has teamed up with the National Youth Theatre to back a new fund for aspiring young actors. Hampshire and Kent will benefit from the scheme.

The West Sussex actor says the fund has been set up in response to a decline of drama opportunities in schools and youth groups.

It’s aimed at young people in areas that are “financially and/or geographically challenged”.

It’s a topic that Bonneville feels passionate about. He explains more here to our presenters Fred and Sangeeta.

Southampton and Kent have been chosen as recipient areas in the UK for the Auditions Access Fund.

Hugh Bonneville starring as Lord Grantham in Downton Abbey Credit: ITV: Downton Abbey

With the support of Hugh Bonneville, the Auditions Access Fund aims to reinvigorate drama for young people around the UK in areas that need it most by offering aspirational opportunities in schools that have lost drama provision and in places where travel can be a barrier to high-quality opportunities.

There are 1,700 fewer drama teachers than in 2010 in UK schools, and young people studying performing arts at GCSE level has dropped by 25% over the last 5 years and local youth theatres have been hit by local authority cuts.