2020 Awardee: Rosie Dignan

rosie dignan

"Coming from a low income family, I didn’t think I’d have the chance to attend any kind of training, but thanks to funding from [the Dewar Arts Awards] I’ve been able to develop my skills immensely and have been accepted to one of my dream schools."

Biography

Born and raised in Dundee, Rosie was surrounded by dancers, artists, and performers as a child. She soon became part of the Scottish Dance Theatre’s junior company, with whom she performed at many venues around Scotland. This gave her plenty of early experience as well as the chance to work with choreographers such as Botis Seva and Joan Cleville.

Rosie has been involved in Amateur Dramatics since the age of 8, and has held lead roles in many performances including Godspell, The Wiz, and 42nd Street. She has also been a part of Dundee Schools Music Theatre since her second year at school.

Throughout her early teens, Rosie attended regular youth theatre sessions in Dundee, which were the highlight of her week, before being accepted into level 1 at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s Junior School of Musical Theatre during her sixth year of school.

Upon completion of her second year at RCS Juniors, she was hand-picked by Miss Laine at Laine Theatre Arts to study musical theatre, being one of the first people accepted onto the course.

How the Award Helped

Rosie was able to further her musical theatre studies at Laine Theatre Arts thanks to her Dewar Arts Award.

rosie dignan

"Coming from a low income family, I didn’t think I’d have the chance to attend any kind of training, but thanks to funding from [the Dewar Arts Awards] I’ve been able to develop my skills immensely and have been accepted to one of my dream schools."

2019 Awardee: Kirsty Craig

"I am truly grateful to the Dewar Arts Awards for their tremendous generosity. Their belief and support has enabled me to take the next step in my career and fulfil my potential at a prestigious training establishment. From the bottom of my heart, thank you."

Biography

Kirsty Craig grew up in Glasgow and is a passionate dancer with strong determination.

Kirsty began attending The Studio in the West End of Glasgow in 2007 and continued through to her Award in 2019. During this time, Kirsty danced lead roles and achieved exceptional marks in her examinations, up to and including the Advanced 2 vocational Cecchetti Classical Ballet exam. She also worked towards her teaching Diploma in Dance Education (accredited by the ISTD).

From 2016 to 2019, Kirsty attended Dance Studio Scotland at Anniesland College and achieved an A grade in her HND Dance Artists course. Her versatility and skillset were broadened, including jazz, tap, contemporary and choreography skills. She also began tuition in singing and acting, enabling her to be a multi-faceted performer in preparation for auditions.

Alongside her many dancing commitments, Kirsty sustained a part-time job in retail to help her save money. A keen student, Kirsty was Head Girl at school and achieved 5 As in her Highers. She has also taken part in volunteering, completed both the Duke of Edinburgh Award and the Youth Philanthropy Initiative, and raised thousands of pounds for charity.

In Spring of 2019, Kirsty successfully auditioned for a competitive BA (Hons) Professional Dance and Musical Theatre course at Bird College in London. The panel (including the Principal and Artistic Director) were so impressed, she was offered a place on the day, without waiting the customary three-week period to hear an outcome.

Bird College offers excellent performance opportunities, world class facilities and leading industry professionals who equip their students with a plethora of skills and connections with the industry. Through studying at Bird College, Kirsty aims to achieve her dream of becoming a professional performer.

How the Award Helped

Due to the intense financial demands of studying in London, Kirsty applied for grants to alleviate the pressure. Without the help of the Dewar Arts Award and her teachers in Scotland, Kirsty says she would not have been able to train at her dream college.

"I am truly grateful to the Dewar Arts Awards for their tremendous generosity. Their belief and support has enabled me to take the next step in my career and fulfil my potential at a prestigious training establishment. From the bottom of my heart, thank you."

2019 Awardee: Karah Pollock

"The Dewar Award has afforded Karah the opportunity to pursue her dream, an opportunity that would not otherwise have been available to her"

Biography

Born in Glasgow in 2002, Karah started her dance career in competitive freestyle at the tender age of three.   Showing a natural flair and talent from the outset, Karah won every major title she set her sights on throughout an impressive ten-year career.  She was scouted to participate in a Channel 4 documentary following her dance lifestyle.

Karah retired from competitive freestyle to pursue a dance education at the prestigious Dance School of Scotland, and after a successful audition was one of only nine students selected from thousands of auditionees to attend.

While at the Dance School of Scotland, Karah gained Adv 1 Ballet and Adv 1 Modern with Distinction.  She also earned the opportunity to tour Scotland with Scottish Ballet and was the youngest inductee of their Youth Exchange Programme touring New York and performing in the Joyce Theatre.

Karah then auditioned for the best Dance and Musical Theatre Colleges in the UK and was accepted for both Laine Theatre arts and the Urdang Academy.

How the Award Helped

Karah decided to continue her technical training at the Urdang Academy. She received a Dewar Award to support her studies on the BA (Hons) course in Musical Theatre and Dance.

"The Dewar Award has afforded Karah the opportunity to pursue her dream, an opportunity that would not otherwise have been available to her"

2019 Awardee: Jennifer Bruce

"Receiving this award has allowed me to study at my dream school Bird College...This truly does mean the world to me"

Biography

Jennifer became interested in the performing arts from a young age and began dance lessons when she was 5.  While at high school, she sought out additional opportunities to build her dance/performance skill set, and in 2014 successfully auditioned for the Scottish Ballet Youth Exchange with Singapore School of the Arts.

Continuing to improve her skills, Jennifer gained a place in the National Youth Dance Company of Scotland. This  allowed her to find her own artistry and confidence with improvisation, as well as performing internationally. Jennifer performed in India for the International Dance Bridges Festival, Australia with Yellowwheel Dance Company, and Groupe Grenade in Marseille, France.

Jennifer also expressed an interest in musical theatre, and in 2013 she had chance to perform as part of the Tom Daniels Musicals ensemble in Scotland’s Young Variety Show, followed by their annual musical production and Christmas show. She continued with singing lessons and annual showcases.

In June 2019, Jennifer completed her HND Dance Artists from Glasgow Clyde College. She went on to gain a place on the BA (Hons) in Professional Dance and Musical Theatre at Bird College, one of the top schools in the UK to study the performing arts. This brought her another step closer to her dream of being a professional performer.

Jennifer loves the freedom of expression and escapism that performance provides, allowing her ‘to be anyone, anywhere at any time’ and share this with an audience.

How the Award Helped

Jennifer received a Dewar Arts Award to support her studies at Bird College, as well as helping her to buy necessary equipment including character shoes for singing and musical theatre classes, pointe shoes for ballet, and additional uniform and study materials.

"Receiving this award has allowed me to study at my dream school Bird College...This truly does mean the world to me"

2018 Awardee: Leona Craig

"I very much appreciate the financial support being given to me from The Dewar Award in order to achieve my dream. Thank you."

Biography

Leona is an exceptionally talented actor, singer-songwriter and musician who plays several instruments to an excellent standard including piano, guitar, banjo and ukulele.

From the age of 15 to17, Leona attended The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s (RCS) Junior Musical Theatre whilst at school. Here she undertook intensive Musical Theatre training and grew as a performer in a supportive environment. This nurtured her ambition and determination for her future career.

Leona was also a member of Perth Youth Theatre and Ad-Lib Theatre Arts, where she explored a range of acting techniques.  This led to her successfully auditioning for the role of Maria in ‘The Sound of Music’ and Fantine in ‘Les Miserables’. In 2017 she was successful in securing a place as a member of Scottish Youth Theatre’s (SYT) first National Ensemble. Here she artistically evolved whilst working with influential industry professionals and pushing creative boundaries.

Following her ensemble experience, Leona secured a job with The Family Storytime Company at SYT. This year-long position involved developing, writing, composing and producing a story to engaged a young audience in a positive learning environment. Leona discovered a passion for passing on her knowledge of drama, dance and music, whilst sparking imagination and igniting an excitement to learn.

Leona has achived ABRSM Grade 8 Piano and ABRSM Grade 8 Singing with Merit. Her dedication to developing her skills earned her a place at the prestigious Mountview Theatre School, London, to study on the BA Actor/Musician Course.

How the Award Helped

Leona’s Award enabled her to accept her place to study at the Mountview Theatre School in London.

"I very much appreciate the financial support being given to me from The Dewar Award in order to achieve my dream. Thank you."

2016 Awardee: Isabel (Izzy) Stott

"Now that I have received funding to study, I really feel like my life will completely change for the better. I cannot thank you enough. This is not just money in the bank - this is a gateway to a whole new world of opportunity."

Biography

Izzy Stott is a gifted, ambitious and skilful theatre performer. Having trained in contemporary and physical theatre, Izzy was inpired to create performance that is challenging both physically and intellectually, as well as being innovative and honest.

Growing up in a Stirlingshire village, Izzy studied a Diploma in Physical Theatre Practice at Fife College.  She excelled in clown, mask, physical storytelling and devised theatre. From there, she was offered a chance to study on a prestigious, one of a kind physical theatre course at Ecole Philippe Gaulier in France.

Through her ongoing theatre practice, Izzy hopes to communicate ideas with audiences, start social discussions and make people think about the world that surrounds them. She sees art as a beautiful way to connect people and expose issues, acting as a mirror to society in all its beauty and hardships. She believes that it is essential for human understanding, fuelling her dedication to her artistic practice.

In the future. Izzy hopes to set up a theatre company or arts collective that deals with social issues, with the aim to make people’s lives better through performance and art.

How the Award Helped

Izzy’s Award enabled her to study in France under the tutelage of leading physical theatre practitioner Philippe Gaulier.

"Now that I have received funding to study, I really feel like my life will completely change for the better. I cannot thank you enough. This is not just money in the bank - this is a gateway to a whole new world of opportunity."

2016 Awardee: Robyn Casey

"Without the great help from Dewar Arts Awards I would not have the immense pleasure of being able to pursue this course. When I am at the pinnacle of my career I will be proud to be able to say that Dewar Arts Awards helped me get there.”

Biography

Hailing from Alexandria, Robyn began studying jazz, tap and ballet dancing at just two years of age. Her dream became to perform in one of her favourite musical theatre shows in the West End.

At the age of 17, Robyn joined Anniesland College to study an HND in Dance. This opened her eyes to other styles of dance as well as choreography.  She went on to audition for the BA Hons in Theatre Dance at London Studio Centre, and was successful in gaining a place.

In order to fundraise for her studies, Robyn taught regular classes in jazz and contemporary dance whilst in Glasgow.  She then supported herself through her first year by working in a local pub. This proved challenging, as she would finish college, work until 2am and then be up at 6:30am for her first class the next day.  The second year was set to be even more physically demanding, and so Robyn applied to the Dewar Arts Awards for financial assistance.

How the Award Helped

Robyn’s Dewar Award enabled her to continue her studies without financial pressure, allowing her to fully apply herself to achieving her ambitions.

"Without the great help from Dewar Arts Awards I would not have the immense pleasure of being able to pursue this course. When I am at the pinnacle of my career I will be proud to be able to say that Dewar Arts Awards helped me get there.”

2015 Awardee: Ryan Hunter

The Award has liberated me and allowed me to study at the most prestigious drama school in the world. Thank you.

Biography

Growing up on the Southside of Glasgow, Ryan Hunter is the youngest of five siblings, and the first to become an actor rather than a musician.

Ryan took music lessons at St Roch’s Secondary School in Royston, where he played the fiddle, drums and bodhran.  He performed across Scotland, England and Ireland with the school’s Ceili band, before taking to the stage with the PACE Youth Theatre in Paisley. From there he was accepted into the Musical Theatre Course at the Dance School of Scotland in Knightswood.

During his time at Knightswood, Ryan performed at the Citizens Theatre to much acclaim.  In his second year he gained a role in the comedic film ‘What We Did On Our Holiday’, acting alongside David Tennant, Rosamund Pike and Billy Connolly.

On completion of the course, Ryan stayed in Glasgow and busked beside the Donald Dewar statue on Sauchiehall Street while auditioning for roles.  He gained a place in a touring production with Hopscotch Theatre Company, which he completed whilse auditioning for drama schools.

After a gruelling four-round audition process for RADA, Ryan was one of just 28 students out of 4,000 applicants who gained a coveted place.  This offered an exceptional opportunity to study his craft at a most prestigious school.

Intelligent and well read, Ryan takes a serious and committed interest in his work as an actor. He has charisma on stage and screen, and looks set to be an excellent ambassador for Scottish arts in his future career.

How the Award Helped

Ryan’s Award enabled him to accept his hard-won place to study at RADA.

The Award has liberated me and allowed me to study at the most prestigious drama school in the world. Thank you.

2014 Awardee: Danielle Donnelly

Singing, dancing and acting are my passions and I will strive to be the very best I can.

Biography

A talented actress, dancer and vocalist, Danielle has developed her abilities from a very young age.  Beginning her studies in dance at 3 years old and singing since primary school, Danielle applied herself throughout her upbringing in Scotland.  She went on to study musical theatre in Glasgow and gained an A-grade HNC and HND.

In 2014 she gained a Dance and Drama Award to study at the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts in London.  This offered Danielle her dream opportunity to pursue her ambitions to perform in the West End.

How the Award Helped

Danielle’s award enabled her to accept her place to study at Italia Conti, and continue to develop her skills and aspirations in musical theatre.

Singing, dancing and acting are my passions and I will strive to be the very best I can.

2013 Awardee: Karen Walker

Dewar Awards literally changed my life. I will be eternally grateful for this opportunity and I will continue to work hard to ensure that one day my dream of performing in a West End musical is not my ultimate goal but my reality.

Biography

Haling from Glasgow, Karen started her dance training at the age of three and studied jazz and tap, developing a growing passion for stage musicals such as Chicago and Hairspray.  At 16 Karen decided she wanted to make dance her profession and began to take lessons in ballet.  She enrolled at the Anniesland College to study dance, keeping up a number of jobs in the meantime to support herself.  This allowed her to train in a variety of additional disciplines, including contemporary dance, singing and choreography.  She became an active member of the Glasgow dance community, not only by attending workshops and masterclasses to enhance her training, but also by working with and inspiring other dancers.

Through hard work, talent and determination Karen achieved a place on the BA Hons in Theatre Dance at the London Studio Centre, offering her an opportunity to further develop her technique and experience to the level necessary to achieve her ambitions. Karen’s financial circumstances proved a hindrance to accepting the place, and so she applied for a Dewar Arts Award with a glowing recommendation from her tutors.

Karen is described as having outstanding focus, natural ability and musicality with a sense of style that conveys emotion and passion. She is driven to achieve her ambition of performing on stage in London’s West End.

How the Award Helped

Karen received a Dewar Arts Award to support her dance training at the London Studio Centre.

Since the Award

March 2014 – Karen competed against the whole of her college to take part in Move It 2014, and was one of only four second year students to successfully gain a place.  See video below.

Dewar Awards literally changed my life. I will be eternally grateful for this opportunity and I will continue to work hard to ensure that one day my dream of performing in a West End musical is not my ultimate goal but my reality.