An initiative to encourage artists to develop new musicals has been launched.

The Musical Theatre Darkroom aims to support the creation of new small-to-medium musicals by pairing artists who have little experience in music theatre, with people who have worked in the genre before.

It was launched at Shoreditch Town Hall on December 10, and is based on China Plate‘s Darkroom artist development programme.

Musical theatre artist Ella Grace, who is one of the first participants of the scheme, said: “Making great musical theatre is really hard. It requires time, money, patience, and brilliant collaborative artists. The Darkroom is playing a crucial role in the future of Musical Theatre by offering us all these things, and I’m really excited to see what we create.”

The scheme is run by China Plate and the Musical Theatre Network, and supported by Arts Council England and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

Paul Warwick, from China Plate, said: “Collaboration is at the heart of everything we do at China Plate, so we’re always interested in what might happen when you bring together artists who might not ordinarily meet. What assumptions might this challenge?

“Could working in the musical form help some of the artists we work with reach vast new audiences? Might exposing experienced musical theatre makers to different creative processes further encourage innovation within an already vibrant musical theatre sector? The Musical Theatre Darkroom might be part of the answer to these questions.”

The Musical Theatre Darkroom programme will include a residential retreat, a practical laboratory, and will end with participants pitching their new musics in front of an expert panel.

James Hadley, Executive Director, Musical Theatre Network said: “Musical Theatre Network is excited about the growing interest in musical theatre from more experimental artists, acknowledging that commercial West End musicals are only part of as broad an artistic spectrum of musicals as there is of music or theatre in general.

“Musical Theatre Darkroom is a catalyst for new creative dialogues which will hopefully speak in new ways to audiences who might not have listened in previously.”

Bola Agbaje, Pippa Cleary, Ella Grace, Caroline Horton, Mimi Poskitt, Rash Dash, Tim Sutton and Benjamin Till are the first Darkroom participants.

Musical Theatre Darkroom aims to support the creation of new musicals in the UK. For more information on the scheme, click here.