Sir Tim Rice awarded Honorary Doctorate of Arts

Sir Tim Rice, known for his award-winning collaborations with Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Arts by Leeds Beckett University for his contribution to the industry. Having co-written renowned musicals such as Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Jesus Christ Superstar and Evita with Lloyd Webber, as well as working on Walt Disney film soundtracks The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast and Aladdin, it’s no wonder Rice is considered an asset to the arts.

After receiving his award, Rice said: ‘I am very honoured to be given any award at all in any circumstance and one from such a distinguished university is terrific.’ Vice Chancellor of Leeds Beckett University, Professor Susan Price, said of Rice: ‘[he] is an inspiration and prolific figure in the history of British music and theatre. It was a delight to welcome him to our Headingley Campus and to recognise his enormous contribution to music and the arts.’

Rice and Lloyd Webber with their Academy Awards

Rice and Lloyd Webber with their Academy Awards

Though he originally planned a career as a solicitor, Rice became a management trainee at EMI records in 1965, and not long after that he met fellow struggling songwriter Lloyd Webber. Of his career, Sir Tim said: ‘I never really thought about going into the theatre world when I was young, I didn’t know much about the theatre but I knew a little bit about musicals from my parent’s record collection. It was through meeting Andrew Lloyd Webber really. I was writing pop songs, he was trying to write theatre stuff, our paths crossed and we decided to go for his idea, which was very sensible because we would never have been better than the Beatles or the Rolling Stones but there was nobody doing what we were trying to do.’
An indisputable genius, Rice was knighted for his services to music in 1994, boasts a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and has received top industry accolades, including Academy and Tony Awards.
His acknowledgement of recent cuts to arts funding came through in his advice for graduating arts students: ‘You’ve got to be quite enthusiastic about your job, there’s no point in doing something you don’t like.’ He added: ‘If you are genuinely interested in the arts, even if you don’t think you have an incredible basic talent, there are so many things you can do that aren’t actually being an artist; you can be behind the scenes which doesn’t involve getting up on the stage or painting. It’s the people behind the scenes that make the most money.’

The MTA to relocate to Tottenham

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The MTA’s new home: The Bernie Grant Arts Centre in Tottenham

The MTA has announced that from July 2015 it will be taking up residence at the Bernie Grant Arts Centre in Tottenham. From 2016, four of the college’s six shows a year will be performed in BGAC’s state-of-the-art theatre, with the showcase and original musical remaining at the Bridewell Theatre.

Annemarie Lewis Thomas, MTA’s principal and founder says: ‘We were very flattered to be approached by BGAC in the first place, then the more I found out about the programme over there, the synergy between the two organisations was rather compelling. Having spent our Christmas over there, and having had the most wonderful welcome from all the staff, we are really looking forward to the move and the opportunities that our new space will provide us with.’

The MTA’s Christmas pantomime, Beauty and the Beast, was performed to over 2,000 local residents, half of which were local children, as part of the college’s ‘pay what you can’ scheme.

Sarah Ebanja, chair of the arts centre, says: ‘The BGAC team are delighted that The MTA will make our arts centre complex their home. The MTA will bring an added vibrancy to what is already an artistic and creative hub. Their work will inspire and will enable Tottenham’s local residents, and young people in particular, to engage meaningfully with the performance arts.’

Annemarie Lewis Thomas features as TD spring 2’s opinion columnist. Read her thoughts on accreditation in the issue, out now.