Shakespeare Schools wins Japanese arts prize

The Shakespeare Schools Foundation has won £33,000 in the Japan Art Association’s Praemium Imperiale 2018 awards.

The foundation (SSF) organises the world’s largest annual youth drama festival, involving 30,000 young people.

The SSF, found in 2000, was nominated by the former cabinet minister Lord Patten. “Shakespeare Schools Foundation do a fantastic job - just look at the Impact Report on their website" he said. “Using Shakespeare's timeless works, they challenge young people from all backgrounds, increasing their confidence, self-esteem, literacy, teamwork and communication skills. It shows that great art is not just for the few and not just for a historical period, but forever.”

Ruth Brock, the SSF’s chief executive, accepted the award at the Royal Academy today. “Shakespeare is the birthright of every child” she said.  “His extraordinary works with their universal themes and beautiful language can, with the right help, belong to everyone.

“With SSF, children make friends, do better in class and gain the skills they need for life. Further than that, art transcends borders, heals divisions, nurtures empathy and collaboration.  And as the world’s greatest playwright, Shakespeare teaches us all more about what it means to be human”. The SSF has to raise £1m each year.

Since 1989 the Praemium Imperiale Awards have been given annually for painting, sculpture, architecture, music and theatre/film to cover fields of achievement not represented by the Nobel Prizes, with a separate grant for young artists introduced, won this year by SSF. Individual laurates this year are the actor Catherine Deneuve; the conductor Riccardo Muti; the painter Pierre Alechinsky; the sculptor Fujiko Nakaya; and the architect Christian de Portzamparc.

Past British winners have included David Hockney, Anish Kapoor, Antony Gormley, Norman Foster, Richard Rogers, David Chipperfield, Judi Dench, Anthony Caro and Tony Cragg.

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