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15th July, 2015

First Recipient of the Commerical Education Trust’s Entrepreneur’s Award Produces the Successful AVA Festival in Belfast

On 30 May 2015 Sarah McBriar, an alumna of the MA Creative Producing course at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and the first recipient of the Commercial Education Trust’s Entrepreneur’s Award, produced the acclaimed AVA Festival in Belfast.

An audio visual Arts Festival and Conference, the AVA Festival aims to collectively celebrate, amplify and develop the strong current of electronic music and visual arts talent that has and is emerging from Northern Ireland. Over 50 artists were involved in the first, one-day Festival and Conference to which over 2,500 people attended across the day and night, and a further audience watched the broadcast live via Boiler Room’s online channel.

Sarah McBriar was the first Entrepreneur’s Award recipient to make her successful producing pitch a reality. The Entrepreneur’s Award was established by Central in 2014 with the generous support of the Commercial Education Trust, and to recognise and support graduating students from its MA/ MFA Creative Producing course. As 2014’s successful Award recipient, Sarah was required, after a period of consultation with award advisors and the submission of a detailed business plan, to demonstrate the commercial viability and sustainability for her project. Sarah received not only financial support for her project from the Commercial Education Trust, but she also had access to a dedicated mentor in order to help ensure the success of her project.

Of the AVA Festival, Sarah McBriar said:
“I feel a great sense of achievement and very thankful to Central and CET for supporting me and giving me great guidance and encouragement. Realising a vision and watching it come to life and gain great traction and feedback has been incredibly fulfilling. I am also pleased to say we are already planning 2016; without this award, AVA would never have happened.”

Of the Entrepreneur’s Award, Central alumnus Sir Cameron Mackintosh said:
“I’ve long believed that the financial hurdle for young Producers is set, relatively, far higher than it was when I started Producing. It’s why, of necessity, there are more Corporations and Producing Collectives than individual Producers coming into the industry every year. History has proven that nearly all the greatest hit musicals have happened because of the determination and passion of individual producers rather than corporate groups. But however the show gets backed, I still believe that the lifeblood of the commercial theatre will always be talented individuals backing their hunches and creating work they believe in. To that end, I applaud the Commercial Education Trust’s Entrepreneur’s Award and the opportunity it gives to young, innovative Producers to kick start a career

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