The Empire Theatre is inviting young people between the ages of 12 and 25 to apply for bursaries to attend professional development short courses at leading Australian performing arts institutions.

The bursaries aim to assist the region’s young creative talents who demonstrate current involvement and achievement in a performing arts discipline. Past recipients of a Youth Bursary have attended various highly prestigious institutions, including the National Institute of Dramatic Arts (NIDA), Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA), Expressions Dance Company, Victorian College of the Arts, and Queensland Theatre.

Empire Theatres Foundation Chairperson Sheena Liley said close to 400 Youth Bursaries had been awarded since the program began in 2003. “The bursaries have helped develop the skills of many young people from this region, who have gone on to pursue careers in the performing arts at a national level,” Sheena said. “Past winners have used their bursaries as a launching pad into the industry, with many now professional actors, fulltime musicians and technical professionals.”

Past recipient Gabe Tiller is forging his path to Broadway after expanding his skills thanks to two separate Empire Theatres Youth Bursaries. The 16-year-old received bursaries for a semester of Drama Workshops at the Empire Theatre in 2015 as well as a Classical Vocal Summer School program through Sound Thinking Australia in Brisbane which he attended earlier this year. “The skills I learned over the summer school program have allowed me to perform a diverse range of musical songs and enhance my vocal characterisation,” Gabe said. “This was particularly handy when I participated in The Empire Theatres production of Pirates of Penzance, I was able to adapt my vocals to suit the more operatic style utilised in Gilbert and Sullivan. Take every opportunity you can to apply for a bursary, because they are extremely useful in developing your skills.”

Past recipients have also appeared in the Empire Theatre’s major productions including Disney’s High School Musical, The Boy from Oz, The Wizard of Oz, Hairspray, The Phantom of the Opera, Disney’s Mary Poppins, Wicked and The Pirates of Penzance. The Empire Theatres Foundation provides funding for courses in a range of disciplines including dance, acting, instrumental music, singing and musical theatre. Since 2010, bursaries have also been provided in more diverse fields such as jazz singing, composing and conducting, playmaking and filmmaking.

Young people from the wider Toowoomba region, including Downs Queensland Southern Highlands and Lockyer Valley are invited to apply for the bursaries, with applications close Friday 10 August.

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