Leeds Conservatoire Awards Its First Performing Arts Scholarship

By Gemma Cross


Leeds Conservatoire proudly announced its first ever Performing Arts scholarship, thanks to support from the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, back in the summer.

The Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation Scholarship has since been awarded to Olivia Davidson, a gifted student on the conservatoire’s three year BA (Hons) Musical Theatre programme. 

Olivia, why did you choose to study at Leeds Conservatoire, and what appealed to you about our Musical Theatre course?

Some years ago, I attended an open day at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast. I was too young to audition for the course but I remember Erin Carter speaking about the Musical Theatre course which had just taken its inaugural cohort of first years. I really resonated with the idea that the course was created in response to the changing, current Musical Theatre industry and wanted to champion new work.

When I came to Leeds to attend my recall audition, I was blown away by the kindness of all the students and staff helping out on the day. There was a real buzz in the air. Everyone wanted you to succeed and join the conservatoire as they loved the course and were just as excited as you were. Even in the typically ‘scary’ parts of the audition day, I felt much more at ease than at other schools. I just knew it was where I had to be.


What challenges have you overcome to get here?

I grew up in an unconventional situation. I took on caring responsibilities for a close family member during lockdown, due to short staffing, and continue to care for them when I’m home during the holidays. I saved the money I was able to earn as a carer to afford flights, hotels and drama school audition fees.

Luckily, Leeds Conservatoire had no audition fees for my course, which helped me out massively. When I gained a place here, I quickly realised I would need to keep saving my wages to support myself during my training. I knew Leeds Conservatoire was the place for me so I worked as hard as I could to be able to get there after receiving my offer, which made receiving the scholarship so special.

How will the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation Scholarship help?

The Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation Scholarship will enable me to go into the working world free from the stress of student debt, which I am sure I will appreciate as a jobbing actor!

I am incredibly grateful for the doors this scholarship will open for me and the support it will offer me when I graduate – specifically the free year of Spotlight membership. I cannot even begin to describe how much this means to me, little nine year old Olivia singing Phantom in her bedroom would be jumping for joy. It is really a dream come true!

What has been the best thing so far about your time at Leeds Conservatoire?

I am thoroughly enjoying my weekly Actor and Text classes with Victoria as we get to read a new play each week, which we then focus on in class. My favourite so far has been Betrayal by Harold Pinter, as we are exploring the subtext under each line of dialogue and how the characters never truly say what they mean. I also feel I have made so much progress in improv class with Aimee this year. As someone who used to be terrified to get up without a script, I am amazed by how the class has emboldened and empowered me to trust my instincts and just do it.

What are you most looking forward to at Leeds Conservatoire?

I’m excited to start our swing project in third year where we undertake a multitude of roles in a musical to prepare us for the industry and the possibility that we will be cast as understudies, swings and standbys – which are integral to musicals today. I am really looking forward to navigating this difficult but fun project as I am in awe of the understudies I have seen.

Read about scholarships and bursaries at Leeds Conservatoire

Find out more about our BA (Hons) Musical Theatre course and tutors

Discover more about our Musical Theatre graduates and our Performing Arts Agency

By Gemma Cross

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