Major donation received to transform literary programme

We are pleased to announce that we have received a generous donation which will transform our theatre's work with new writers and plays over the next four years.

The Ronald Duncan Literary Foundation has given £180,000 to support the literary programme here at Bristol Old Vic and to create a far-reaching and long-term legacy both for the Foundation and ourselves, Britain's oldest continuously working theatre - celebrating our 250th anniversary this year.

The Foundation's Trustees were inspired to make the donation after visiting us and being impressed by our theatre's nurturing of new playwrights and the exciting range of work being produced, including the recent performance of Owen Sheers' Pink Mist.

Krysia Cairns, chair, Ronald Duncan Literary Foundation, said: "The Foundation has for many years supported and encouraged young playwrights, musicians and poets as instructed by the late Ronald Duncan whose vision was to ‘encourage talent, not mediocrity in the Arts and Sciences'."

The centenary of Ronald Duncan's birth fell in 2014 and the Trustees have since decided to commemorate this by forging a partnership with us at Bristol Old Vic, sharing his vision for encouraging the talents of creative writers. Devon-hailing writer Ronald Duncan was also one of the founders of the English Stage Company, through which the Royal Court Theatre was established.

Tom Morris, our artistic director, said: "We are thrilled to be the recipient of such a generous award, which arrives at a particularly exciting time for the theatre as we celebrate our 250th anniversary. The theatre has always been at the cutting edge of creativity and renowned for its ground-breaking, forward-thinking work. This exceptional donation is a ringing endorsement of our work with new writers and new plays and will help bring both to new audiences."

The funding will enable a new main house show to be commissioned and performed in our recently redeveloped Georgian auditorium. Furthermore, it will provide a range of opportunities for new writers and poets, including access to mentoring, dramaturgical expertise, performance platforms and seed support for scripts in development.

The programme will also support our South West regional playwriting competition, The Open Session, with the work of selected writers also commissioned to produce two studio plays. Each playwright who receives a commission will become the recipient of the Ronald Duncan Prize.

New monthly writing nights and poetry for performance masterclasses will also be launched.