Photo: Paul Burns
A year ago, Joe Sartee was in trouble. He had come to London from the US to study acting at Lamda, the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. In his second year, however, the US government announced that it would no longer be offering loans to international students. Not only could he not afford to finish the course, but the money he had already borrowed to pay for it was going to be wasted. “I was,” he says, “in a pretty desperate situation.”
It was at this point that Lamda’s scholarship scheme brought him to the attention of Philip and Christine Carne. “They invited me to join them at a local restaurant,” Sartee remembers, “and had a genuine interest in getting to know me. They were warm and compassionate. Their sincere desire to contribute to the arts was very moving.”
Sartee soon received the “lifesaver” - that is his word - of a scholarship from the Richard Carne Trust, which has made it possible for him to complete the course. Philip and Christine created the trust in 2006 to support talented young people studying drama or music, and named it after their son, whose own university education had barely started when he died suddenly at just 18 years old.
Over and over, in the stack of letters that propose the Carnes for this medal, the scholars say the same thing. They are not just grateful for the money, as you might expect, but they also feel a deep affection for a couple who they have found still more generous with their time. “Having these two fantastic people rooting for you does wonders for your confidence,” writes Andrew Nolan. “Their passion and dedication never falters.” says Okezie Morro. “They are my heroes!”
There are more than 100 Richard Carne scholars so far - at Lamda, Rada, the Royal College of Music, the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and the Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. What makes the trust unusual is that a quarter of its spending goes on supporting them after their training ends, with travel expenses, medical bills, casting photographs, or whatever else comes up. The scholars tell the story of looking up from the stage - not just during their graduation shows but afterwards, not just in big London venues but everywhere - and seeing Philip and Christine in the audience. Knowing the couple, nobody is surprised by their determination to get to all these shows, although a number do admit that they are puzzled by the physics of it.
Beside their work with individuals, the Carnes also support a number of chamber music groups and a wide range of institutions, including Theatre 503, ChamberMusic 2000, ChamberStudio, Classical Opera, the Orpheus Foundation, MusicWorks and English Touring Theatre. Often this will be financial support, such as the £100,000 donation they made to Lamda’s redevelopment campaign, the critical first big gift that brings in other donors - but Philip also gives up his time to serve on many of the charities’ boards and committees, and to enthuse anyone he can.
“People say ‘Isn't it noble what you are doing,’” he told the Royal College of Music once, “and well, it may be so. But it's also intensely rewarding. My wife and I have the most wonderful time seeing these young people grow and flourish. They are like an extended family to us.”
The Prince of Wales Medal for Arts Philanthropy celebrates individuals whose significant cultural philanthropy has played a crucial role in shaping and sustaining the cultural sector across the UK.
Arts & Business, part of Business in the Community, is managing this award on behalf of The Prince of Wales who is our President. This is the sixth year in a row he has presented these medals.
This year, the five honourees whose contributions have been both instrumental to the organisations they have supported, and inspirational to others are: