Blavatnik’s Access Entertainment donates £300,000 to expand education charity Masterclass

Theatre Royal Haymarket’s new owner Access Entertainment is to donate £300,000 to support the venue’s in-house education charity Masterclass.

Run independently from the venue, the charity offers free masterclasses by theatre professionals, careers advice sessions, apprenticeships and performance experiences to young people aged 16-30.

The donation will support Masterclass over the next three years to expand its offering and develop its current activities.

Plans for expansion include improving the charity’s digital presence and capacity for streaming, with the aim of increasing access to educational resources for young people around the UK.

The charity will also relaunch its apprenticeship scheme and explore ideas including a Masterclass Company and the production of new work.

Access Entertainment, which is a division of Leonard Blavatnik’s Access Industries, purchased the Haymarket in 2018.

President of Access Entertainment Danny Cohen said: “When we bought the theatre last year, for us, an important part of it was the Masterclass charity and all of the work it does to develop new talent, create opportunities for and inspire new talent.

“It’s a charity that has a long-term association with the theatre and does terrific work, so we wanted to keep finding ways to support it. In doing this we’re able to give it stability for the coming years, which will allow the charity to operate at its most effective.”

In addition to the donation, Ed Sheeran is performing at the venue on July 14, with all proceeds from the performance going to Masterclass.

Cohen added: “Because the wider Access Industries group also owns Warner Music, and Ed Sheeran is one of the great artists from Warner Music, we’re hoping that other Warner Music artists will also agree to do these intimate shows at the Haymarket in aid of Masterclass.”

Masterclass was founded by the Theatre Royal Haymarket’s chairman Arnold Crook in 1998 and is run by programme director Blayne George.

George said: “This generous donation will go a long way to ensuring we are able to continue nurturing creativity in the next generation of theatre makers, as well as opening the door for those who may not see theatre as an accessible or viable career path.”