Someone deserves a standing ovation.
The Andrew Lloyd Weber Foundation announced it will donate $1.3 million to the American Theatre Wing — the founder of the Tony Awards – which will distribute the money to underfunded schools in the U.S.
Angela Lansbury and James Earl Jones used both their fabulously distinctive voices to make the announcement on June 12 during the 2016 Tony Awards.
“The first performance I had of any of my shows was at a college in [New Jersey] and that was where 'Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat' was performed for the first time in 1970. And I remember being paid for it by the school,” Webber, who is the composer of iconic musicals such as "Phantom of the Opera," "Jesus Christ Superstar" and "Cats," said backstage after the Tonys.
Weber also added in a press release: “Disgracefully the arts have too often borne the brunt of short-sighted cuts to educational budgets.”
Weber’s foundation has boosted similar programs in his native U.K. and decided to do the same in the U.S. due to concerns with budget cuts for arts education.
The three-year grant called the “Andrew Lloyd Webber Initiative” is also a response to an Americans for the Arts report that found that black and Hispanic students get less than half the access to arts education that their white peers do.
The money will be used to buy public schools instruments, dance floors, lighting grids and other materials that will help create new theater programs and help existing ones thrive. The funds will also go toward sending talented students to after school and summer programs, and providing some with four-year partial university scholarships.
Weber, who told The New York Times that his mother was a music teacher and his brother heads a conservatory, wants his initiative to focus on music.
“Music in education is vital,” he told NYT. “Music is vital because it is a common language – a common empowering denominator.”