A STOURBRIDGE musician and educational entrepreneur is to launch a new foundation to help aspiring stars from the Midlands to achieve their singing and acting dreams.

Chris Passey is heading up the new foundation created by the Birmingham Institute of Theatre Arts (BITA) to support young people who cannot or struggle to afford London drama school auditions or extra courses and classes that might further their ambitions of success in the world of performing arts.

He said on top of the audition fee students will often travel the night before to stay over to make the early audition calls - and anyone who attends four or five auditions during the season can end up spending in excess of £1,500.

Chris, principal at the Birmingham Institute of Theatre Arts, and deputy head at Birmingham’s only music specialist school, Kimichi School which is among the sponsors of the new foundation, said: “Influential people from across the world of performing arts have begun calling out the injustice and class divides that separate young people based on their ability to afford their funding and not on their talent.

"We won’t change the world but we will aim to lighten the burden of those most in need of financial help. Young people are choosing other careers rather than paying for auditions and associated costs – we exist to help steer them back towards their dreams.”

Birmingham born actor Adrian Lester, OBE, has already pledged his support for the foundation and said: "This is an inspiring and much needed initiative. The survival of our culture depends upon young people being able to access and practice many different art forms. If we allow costs to put off whole sections of our society, then the arts will slowly become irrelevant - practised by and appealing to a narrower and narrower section of our society.”

Peaky Blinder's writer and creator Steven Knight is also backing the foundation which is set to launch on Saturday May 26 at The Village Hotel, Dudley, with a black tie ball.

The event, which has already sold out, will be attended by special guest Denise Fergus, the mother of James Bulger, and proceeds from the bash will be split between the James Bulger Memorial Trust and the new foundation which will offer financial help for all forms of performing arts related activities.

Applicants can put in a request for funding by going to bitamt.org.uk and using the online application form.