Ignition is Frantic Assembly’s FREE, nationwide talent development programme for young people aged 18-24. Ignition seeks out underrepresented talent in unexpected places.

2024 marks 30 years of Frantic Assembly and so it is with particular regret that we announce we are unable to run our talent development programme IGNITION this year, owing to a lack of funding.

This is the first time in the 15 years since it began that we have not been able to run Ignition. However, cancelling it this year gives us the opportunity to address the realities of raising the additional funds required to deliver this vital programme and focus on its future.

Like many organisations during the pandemic, we lost over 50% of our reserves. We survived, and are building back, but this has left us unable to continue to underwrite Ignition ourselves. We are fortunate to receive funding from Arts Council, England towards our touring productions and schools’ workshops, but Ignition, which costs £75,000 a year to run, is outside this subsidy and has continued without significant funding for the past few years.

This year we are focusing on raising the funds needed to bring Ignition back in 2025 but this is by no means certain. Ignition needs your support. Please donate to help us keep this vital spark alive.

Since 2008, we have scoured the UK for young people with the potential to be the next generation of artists and creative voices, recognising the lack of arts provision and access young people experience in many parts of the country and the lack of young people from those areas finding the arts as a viable vocation.

Ignition is free for all participants, to remove any financial barriers, making it truly accessible to those who may otherwise not be able to afford it. Ignition works. Ignition makes a difference. We could not be prouder of the impact and success Ignition has had in finding and bringing diverse young talent into the industry from areas where others might not be looking.

Ignition has engaged with over 10,000 young people in the last 15 years and has successfully provided an introduction and on-going support to numerous careers in theatre and the arts. 55% of graduates since 2008 are working in theatre and television, on stage and screen, working as performers, directors, writers, composers, choreographers, designers and many more roles within the creative industries. Many more of them have taken the importance of creative thinking, work ethic and generous collaboration and applied it to their world beyond the Arts. They continually demonstrate that Ignition works. Their presence and influence continues to grow. They inspire other young people from similar backgrounds to aspire, get involved, be seen, be heard.

This is why we are fighting to save Ignition.

The programme costs £75,000 a year to run and despite its success is not currently funded. Without financial support we cannot continue to run it.

Please consider making a donation to keep Ignition alight.

We welcome all donations, of any amount. Below are some ideas of how your money can help support young people to realise their potential through Ignition:

£1500 enables one young person to participate in the week long Ignition intensive in London. (This covers all of their training, pastoral support, travel, food and accommodation. They work for a week with a professional director and creative team to produce a performance for a public audience).

£500 helps support our year round graduates' talent development programme.

£100 enables a young person to attend a workshop day with a guest industry expert (including travel costs from their home base).

£30 enables a young person who has little or no access to the arts to take part in a free Ignition taster workshop in their home region

If you are interested in a making a major donation to support Ignition please contact Kerry Whelan, Executive Director at [email protected]

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Everything that I found initially alienating and unreachable about drama schools and the 'business', I found accepting, warm hearted and generous through Frantic. They allowed me to be myself and explore my instincts as a performer in a safe environment. Without doubt, this gave me the confidence I needed to go on and have a go of it in the industry. Forever grateful.

Paapa Essiedu - 2008 Ignition Graduate

"Although I am from a proudly working class background, I enjoyed state privilege as I was growing up. Arts provision in my comprehensive school, a well-funded FE course, a full grant to go to drama school, and a benefits system that aided me as I found my feet as a graduate actor. I am painfully aware that this support for young people like me has been eroded away to almost nothing in the interim years, and we are in danger of creating a culture made up entirely of people from wealthy backgrounds. Frantic Assembly’s Ignition aims to fill the gaps left by our broken system and to support young people who might otherwise struggle to access the arts in an exciting and practical way. I am proud to support their work."

Julie Hesmondhalgh

How does it work?

Throughout the Autumn we travel across the UK to deliver FREE Taster and Trial workshops in association with 13 regional partners. These high energy workshops are facilitated for young people who face barriers to accessing the arts; we visit both theatre and non-theatre spaces to let young people know that the arts can be for them.

From the Trial workshops we select 24 young people to join us for an Intensive week during the October Half Term to devise TWO original performances that are performed to a public audience at Brixton House Theatre. All aspects of the Intensive are paid for by Frantic Assembly, thereby removing financial barriers to participation.

Ignition also includes a year-round access programme which continues to train, mentor and signpost training and career opportunities both with Frantic Assembly and our partners throughout the UK.

The film below documents last year's Ignition Intensive week. Filmed and edited by Adi Detemo, Ignition graduate 2022.

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