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London arts organisations have benefitted from the altruistic nature of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber who has donated £1 million to help cover the losses sustained by Arts Council cuts.

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Three performing arts groups to benefit were the Weekend Arts College (Wac) in Belsize Park, the Theatre Royal Stratford East and the Bush Theatre.

The Wac helped train performers including actress Sophie Okonedo and receives three years’ cash to fund tutors after losing its Arts Council grant. Its CEO Celia Greenwood said: “This funding means that we have almost secured replacement funding for our Senior Weekend programme to replace the Arts Council cut which takes effect from April 2012, so we think it is safe.

She added: “We still have to raise money to keep our Junior classes going and we will concentrate on this now.”

The Theatre Royal Stratford East gets support to develop new musicals. Kerry Michael, its artistic director, said he was grateful the composer understood the importance of creating new types of musicals for new audiences. “With shows like Bombay Dreams and The Beautiful Game, Andrew showed he is aware of that.”

Over in West London, the Bush Theatre gets a one-off grant to help it turn the old Shepherd’s Bush public library into a new home.

David Grindrod, who has cast all Lord Lloyd-Webber’s shows for 20 years and worked with him on TV, said: “It’s nice to be able to open doors. Hopefully we can work hand-in-hand with government funding to see [the arts] through a difficult patch.”

The Arts Council cuts came as a result of reduced funding from government. Over the next four years the council is to face cuts of almost 30 per cent.

Lord Lloyd-Webber’s wife, Madeleine, said: “With the Arts Council cutting left, right and centre, there are some fantastic organisations with fantastic people that will wither and die without support. It’s nice to feel you can give back. Andrew’s been lucky in his life and he’s passionate about young people and giving opportunities to them.”

Included in the donations are 10 scholarships for young performers to attend music and drama colleges and a young theatre programme run by Rada is also benefitting.

Ginny Greenwood, chief executive of the Mayor’s Fund for Young Musicians, said: “Andrew Lloyd Webber’s one of our patrons but he has put his money on the table.”

And this help from such a noted source cannot be underestimated. Miss Greenwood stated the loss Arts Council funding is a double blow as it also acts as an endorsement of work. She said: “This award, which we share with a number of outstanding arts providers, will also quality assure our arts practice … So a grant form Andrew Lloyd Webber’s trust is the stamp of approval from the industry.”

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