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Help Get Saskia to LAMDA

£10,572 of £10,000 goal

Raised by 282 people in 4 months
UPDATE:

The goal for this campaign has been reached, thank you so much! For those who have arrived at this page from my letters, please know that any additional donations through gofundme or otherwise will contribute to my second year and any further expenses incurred during this year. Thank you once again, I am complete overjoyed ❤️❤️

My Predicament

On the 3rd of May, I was offered a place on the MFA Professional Acting course at LAMDA- after so much hard work, a seemingly impossible dream had finally been achieved. For the next month, I tried not to let it distract me too much from my revision (I had final exams at the time). Then, as a student in a low-income single-parent household, I applied for the LAMDA scholarship, which I believed would solve all of my financial ills because it says it right there on the website: "LAMDA believes the arts should be accessible to everyone and that funding should not be a barrier to training".

I sent off the application, which contained my mother's P60 and a personal statement detailing exactly how seriously in need of that scholarship I was (quote: "I would be unable to take up the offer without this support"), and considered myself sorted.

Almost a month later, on the 11th of July, I found out that I wasn't sorted by any means. I had been rejected from the scholarship and even after a lot of back and forth with admissions, there was nothing they could do. The financial pressure of a two years masters course is immense, £12,000 a year with a non-refundable £4,000 deposit deducted from the final year and applied to the first year, effectively making year one £16,000 and year two £8,000. I have been accepted for the Masters Loan from Student Finance England, which affords me approximately £10,500 spread across the two years, so there's still a ways to go.

For those looking for a more concise illustration of my financial situation, check out my Budget Sheet, which indicates my guestimated incomings and outgoings for the upcoming academic year



Background in the theatre and access

Throughout my time at Cambridge, I have dedicated myself to widening participation and access into the creative arts (particularly theatre) for ethnic minority students. I began with creating the Cambridge BME Theatre Group, an online space where students of colour could share ideas, promote their work, and find a safe community of like-minded people. After this, I directed Cambridge’s first ever BME Shakespeare performance (my first directorial experience), which involved over 30 BME cast and crew. Since then, I have directed Cambridge’s largest all-black cast in a performance of Fences by August Wilson in the Corpus playroom; have attended multiple panels at colleges and the Cambridge Union on access into the arts in the university and the broader community; and facilitated the inaugural BME Footlights smoker and Cambridge University Musical Theatre Society (CUMTS) BME Musical Theatre bar night, compèring both. I have seen firsthand how this has helped students of colour engage with and feel comfortable in theatre (including in the audiences) where previously they have avoided auditions and show applications, feeling that they did not belong. Further, these events have provoked a renegotiation of how theatre is approached in Cambridge, with many shows now including BME only audition slots, and the most prestigious theatrical societies now including BME representatives as official committee roles to ensure that students know they have a place in Cambridge theatre.



What I hope to achieve

Having only recently woken up to the severity of all this, I don't have much time to spare and donations could really be the difference between my attendance or being a really, really sad grad. My hope is that through working hard, applying for every grant under the sun, and the good faith and generosity of others, I will be able to continue my work. A degree at LAMDA would exponentially increase my social outreach opportunities, and I would be immeasurably grateful for donations to help me achieve this, so that I might be afforded the kind of access into the arts that I strive to promote for others.

Thanks so much,

Saskia x


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MAJOR UPDATE

My fundraising goal has officially been MET and SURPASSED. Yesterday, not long after I posted my campaign update, I received an email from Sir Nicholas Hytner’s assistant offering to contribute £1000 towards my fees for both years of my course, totalling a £2000 donation *cue scream!!!!!*- so that’s it, I’m done!!!!!!!!!

Okay, bear with, I have a few people I really want to thank:
Of course, Sir Nicholas Hytner (AKA the Best Man In The World), Sir Ian McKellen, Dame Judi Dench, Sir Richard Stilgoe, Sir Stephen Whaley-Cohen, Michael Frayn, Lisa Spirling, and John Cassy, all of whom responded to my letters with kind words and generous donations.

I would also like to thank in particular Angela Zollinger, who made the largest donation of friends and family (apart from my mum lol)- this gal, who was my best friend in early primary school but rudely moved to Switzerland, forreals donated a months wages from her internship in like the first week when we had barely spoken in two-ish years, she fully believed in me and that went a long way towards me believing that this was at all possible. Also, Laura Cameron and her family, who are letting me stay in their house rent free, without which I wouldn’t even have bothered crowdfunding because there’s no way I could have made the goal of fees plus a years worth of London rent- that would have been cray. Esther Raffell has also been a gem because, weirdly, she’s the only person I know who instantly tapped into how hard this was actually going to be, she’s been consistently supportive and her messages to me during this summer have always acknowledged the difficulty of this campaign and the toll it was taking on me, and for me it was super important that she just got it, bc she’s the best. She also offered for me to stay at hers if I need, like damn my friends are dope?! Next, Will Bishop dealt with the brunt of my breakdown when I didn’t get the scholarship, and has coped with my mood swings very well, constantly keeping up the hype for LAMDA when I wanted to bury myself alive. Lastly Marthe de Ferrer offered her services as a crowdfunding PRO very early on- she created the Saskia LAMDA Pipeline spreadsheet which has grown completely out of control with all of the information in it. She advised on crafting letters, on books to read, and grant making organisations and benefactors to contact. She was the shotgun that started the race to £10,000 and made this campaign more coherent and professional than I ever could have done on my own, so thanks man :) Lastly lastly, literally everyone who has sent me a kind message, donated, shared the campaign, offered advice, offered loans (seriously, several people) and generally supported me in this. It means ALOT, thanks dudes.

I’ve probably missed some people out but pls forgive, I’m currently in a haze of pure blind joy

So there it is!!!!! 2 months of campaigning, 4 days til LAMDA, 276 donations, total views on the campaign page is apparently 10950 lmao (like WHAT?), moving to London tomorrow and we fucking did it. Nice.
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91%

Cripes.

Oh also I start LAMDA in like five days.

I don't really know what to say, I have so so many mixed feelings about this (and actually wrote an almost 1000 word update about the toll of summer fundraising because it's not all fun and games lol), and there's no way to perfectly exemplify in words how I'm feeling. It's been a really stupidly difficult summer for a variety of reasons (mostly this), but it's come with some crazy highs that have propelled me through the last couple of months. One thing that I do want to say is a special thank you to Lisa Spirling, who after receiving my letter invited me have an in-person chat with her, then to attend the Beyond the Canon event at RADA which put black student's talent on display and was followed by a super cool Q&A. It was an amazing and inspiring evening that I am incredibly thankful for, and having felt quite down lately, it's fab to have a memory like that which makes me feel a little better and a lot more hopeful whenever I think about it.

There's less than 10% to go now, and I recognise that I've been pushing this since forever and I know it must be getting old but it's just so so close I can freakin taste it. Please share this fundraiser just once more if you have the chance, and if you haven't donated then I'd really appreciate having a scroll through my lil story on the campaign page and making a donation if you feel so inclined and if you have the means. I can't express how much it would mean if we could band together to make this happen, but wouldn't it be something.

I would also like to say, specifically to those I have sent letters to, that any further donations made after the £10k mark will be put into a savings account for my second year fees, rent etc. Support from you all has massively influenced the success of my campaign which I hope will carry through to next year. Thank you so much.
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My exhausted face is back!!

#GetSaskiaToLAMDA has hit 50%!!!! Well... technically 49.84% but whose counting (me, I’m counting)

Once again, thank you so much for the continual support! I’ve had my first alumni donation from the letters I’ve sent out so far and I have high hopes that more responses will soon be coming in. I also had my first shift at McDonalds yesterday, so yes, I am Finally ! working !

The gofundme is, of course, winding down. It’s been almost a month now and I am so staggered by the generosity and am so so grateful, but there’s still a ways to go. Please share the gofundme page if you haven’t yet (or if you have! Remind your friends and family!) and consider making a donation if you have the means, all the love xxxxxxxxx
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I went down to the beach this morning to think about how lucky I am to have so many people supporting me. I don't really know how to put it but once again thank you so much for your generosity.
Yesterday we reached 30%, today we reached 35%!
Here's an update on what I've been doing since the 11th, when I found out I wouldn't be receiving a scholarship:
- Got a job at McDonald's, which allows to me to add £1500 estimated income to my budget sheet
- Prepared letters to send to almost 20 charities, over 100 Cambridge alumni, and a couple of dozen politicians
- Spent a staggering amount of money on stamps
- Spoken directly to GoFundMe, who have contacted the local paper on my behalf to see if we can get a small article about the campaign out
- Had offers from two incredibly generous and wonderful friends to live rent free during term time at LAMDA, so I have removed rent from the budget sheet
- Emailed family friends, parent's friends, old schools, people who have directed me and people who have taught me, the response to which has been entirely heartwarming
- And finally, I paid that £4000 non-refundable deposit. I waited almost 3 weeks past the deadline because I simply could not stomach paying it while not knowing if I would be able to pay the course fees. But the time came and it's done- That means there's no other option but to keep working, sending emails, sending letters, and posting all over social media because **this is it!**

Once my stamps arrive I'll begin my letter-writing campaign to grant-making organisations, alumni and other figures who have an active interest in the arts and widening participation. There's a ways to go, but I'm confident I'll get there!

Thank you xxxxxxx
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£10,572 of £10,000 goal

Raised by 282 people in 4 months
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