Tracy Beaker star joins fight to save Hackney drama school places for poorer kids

The star of kids’ TV show Tracy Beaker joined a campaign this week to save drama school places for Hackney’s poorer pupils.

Actress Dani Harmer, best known for playing a girl who grew up in a care home in BBC1’s popular adaption of the Jacqueline Wilson book, took part in workshops at the Anna Fiorentini Theatre & Film School on Saturday (May 14) as part a push to protect free bursaries for underprivileged children.

The not-for-profit organisation, based at Clapton Girls’ Technology College in Laura Place, Lower Clapton, was set up 10 years ago to give young people in east London a chance to explore performing arts - with many students going on to successful careers on stage and screen.

But the theatre school, which uses money from fee-paying students to fund the free places, is struggling because the credit crunch has forced many paying students to leave.

So Dani joined Eastenders actress Michelle Collins in calling for businesses to help by providing sponsorship.

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“This is such an amazing theatre school and they have offered an opportunity for so many children in Hackney and Tower Hamlets and got them off the streets and given them a direction in life,” she said.

“The theatre school works with the support of so many unpaid supporters and they do so much for the community.”

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The school has not received any arts funding from the government for the past eight years, according to its founder Anna Fiorentini, and may struggle to stage its annual show at the Hackney Empire next year without more cash.

“The school is going from strength to strength but if we want to continue to help the very kids it was initially set up for - that’s where we need support,” said Anna.

“We can’t put fees up because families can’t afford them. But with all this support from Michelle Collins and Dani Harmer, I’m hoping we will get some more sponsorship.”

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