Our fundraising appeal to build a ground-breaking arts centre, bespoke to suit individuals with autism, is approaching a key milestone.

Our Let Me Shine Performing Arts Centre appeal is closing in on a £450,000 interim fundraising target to ensure ground can be broken on the build.

The interim target has a deadline of the end of March with around £150,000 left to raise at the time of writing – meaning two-thirds have already been raised.

This total includes a wonderful £100,000 donation from Garfield Weston Foundation (GWF)*.

In issuing its grant award notification, trustees of the GWF commented on the importance of cultural provision for all, and said: “This project reflects our commitment to making a positive difference to communities across the UK. Our Trustees were delighted to support the project and hope the new Let Me Shine Performing Arts Centre at Prior's Court will become a vibrant and busy place where the power of the arts is truly apparent”.

What the appeal is about

The Let Me Shine Performing Arts Centre will feature adapted facilities to support young people with complex autism to access opportunities in music, dance and drama and the life-enriching benefits this provides.

Individuals with autism face many barriers to accessing the arts – from light and noise sensitivities to understanding of social rules – and one aim of the centre is to mimic theatre environments to prepare young people to access arts venues in the community successfully. This is in addition to having the opportunity day-to-day to express themselves creatively in a dedicated, bespoke space.

Practical uses of the centre

Natalie Norris, our Fundraising Manager, said:

We are hugely grateful to Garfield Weston Foundation for its very generous donation to this exciting project which will provide more people with autism the opportunity to access the arts.

"The value of having a bespoke performing arts centre could be seen recently with our Christmas Carol Concert. This was held within one of our training rooms which gets very cramped for space. Combined with the acoustics, this makes it difficult for all of our young people to access and enjoy an event such as this.

“The new Let Me Shine Performing Arts Centre would provide a suitable space for this event and others like it, preventing our young people becoming overwhelmed or distressed and empowering them to more fully access the transformational power of the arts.”

Prior’s Court’s ambition is to also use the centre to research best practice around providing support to access the arts, and sharing these learnings with others in the education and performing arts sectors for the benefit of people with autism, and their families, across the country and beyond.

The overall target for the fundraising appeal is £950,000.

Get more information about the appeal and the planned facilities within the arts centre

For donation queries, contact our fundraising team

*Established in 1958, the Garfield Weston Foundation is a family-founded grant-maker that gives money to support a wide variety of charities across the UK. The Foundation’s funding comes from an endowment of shares in the Weston family business – a successful model that still exists today. The Weston family have a consistent aim. The more successful the family businesses, the more money the Foundation can donate.

Each year the Foundation gives away its income and donations have continued to grow. Since it was established it has donated over £1.4 billion, of which over half has been given away in the past ten years. In the most recent financial year the Foundation gave away nearly £90 million to over 1,980 charities across the UK.