Sam Heughan establishes creative contest for students at Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Sam Heughan establishes creative contest for students at Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Published: 04/10/2021

Write Start: The Sam Heughan Creative Commission
£5,000 bursary and mentoring from Sam for RCS student/s

Sam Heughan, the internationally acclaimed actor, author and philanthropist, is to fund an exciting new opportunity to bring creative ideas to life at his alma mater, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Write Start: The Sam Heughan Creative Commission launches today (Monday, October 4) and is designed to encourage students from across Scotland’s national conservatoire to collaborate and expand their skills and creative ambitions across the disciplines of music, drama, dance, production, film and education. The student or team of students behind the successful submission will receive £5,000 to help bring their vision to life, as well as mentoring support from Sam and industry professionals

The new initiative – part of RCS’s 175th anniversary celebrations in 2022 – is open to all undergraduate and postgraduate students at RCS, a world top three destination to study the performing and production arts (QS World University Rankings 2021).

Write Start follows the announcement in July of Sam’s commitment to a new ten-year drama scholarship programme at RCS. Sam, who graduated from the BA Acting degree course in 2003, is personally funding three annual scholarships for undergraduate students in the School of Drama, Dance, Production and Film.


Write Start: The Sam Heughan Creative Commission:

  • Students from any discipline can submit either a pitch for a performance such as a play, musical, film, opera, performance piece, ballet or an innovative production idea.
  • Students from different courses can work together on an idea.
  • All finalists will receive £500, which should be used to help progress their idea.
  • The winner/s will be announced in early 2022. They’ll receive feedback on their work in a mentoring session with Sam and industry experts and will be asked to develop a full script or book/score/model.
  • The winner/s will be given a slot in summer 2022 to either present a scratch performance of the piece to an invited audience or to see their idea brought to life, photographed and shared with industry professionals. The winner/s will also receive a £5,000 bursary which should cover the cost of their commission and any additional funding.

Commenting on the launch of Write Start, Sam Heughan said: “There are so many wonderful disciplines here at the conservatoire and that collaboration between the art forms can be really interesting. It’s important for students to think outside the box — maybe a ballet dancer has a burning ambition to be a writer or just has a really good idea.

“In the current climate, but also in the modern world, you can’t be quite so rigid about one profession. From my own career, I’ve realised that there’s a lot of fluidity. You might find that there are other avenues that you can explore that you didn’t even think about that can also help support your chosen career. It energises you and keeps you adaptable to the industry.

“When we see people from all walks of life or different departments collaborating on something, that’s when real creativity can shine.”

His advice to students considering Write Start? “Jump in there and give it a go! I’ve started writing a little bit. I never thought I’d be a writer, I never thought I could do it but once you sit down and start, it just surprises you. I’m really looking forward to seeing what the students come up with.”

Write Start: The Sam Heughan Creative Commission

© Robert McFadzean/RCS

Professor Jeffrey Sharkey, Principal of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, said: “Sam Heughan is a shining example of how to pay it forward, who uses his platform for good to make a difference in the world and enables others to reach their own potential.

“Through the Sam Heughan Scholarship and Write Start, he is helping to nurture the next generation of performing and production artists at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland by sharing the opportunities that he experienced while studying here. We are deeply grateful to Sam for his passionate support and incredible generosity.

Write Start is a wonderful way to showcase the powerful creative energy that flows through our student body and we can’t wait to see what they produce.”

Sam, who was born in Balmaclellan in Dumfries and Galloway, found worldwide fame playing the lead character of Jamie Fraser in smash-hit, time-travelling drama series Outlander, which is filmed in Scotland and based on the books of author Diana Gabaldon. Season six wrapped in June and is due to air in early 2022.

In January, Sam will start filming the adventure epic Everest with Ewan McGregor and Mark Strong, inspired by Jeffrey Archer’s novel Paths of Glory. Set in 1921, the film centres on the real-life George Mallory (McGregor), who is picked by Arthur Hinks (Strong) of the Royal Geographic Society to scale the previously unconquerable Mount Everest. Sam will play George Finch, Mallory’s nemesis who, despite being an outsider amongst his fellow climbers, shares their obsession with conquering Everest.

Sam also stars in the forthcoming romantic comedy Text For You alongside Priyanka Chopra Jonas and recent movie roles include SAS: Red Notice, To Olivia, in which he played legendary actor Paul Newman and Bloodshot.

Write Start: The Sam Heughan Creative Commission

© Robert McFadzean/RCS

Outlander isn’t the only TV smash on Sam’s CV – he joined forces with series co-star Graham McTavish to create, executive-produce and star in the eight-part travel show Men in Kilts, where they entertained viewers with their exploits on a road trip around Scotland.

The duo travelled around the country in a camper van for a real-life adventure based on their number one New York Times bestselling book, Clanlands: Whisky, Warfare, and a Scottish Adventure Like No Other. In November, Sam and Graham turn tour guides again when The Clanlands Almanac hits the shelves, which will take readers on a seasonal meander through the wilds of Scotland.

Since starring in Outlander, Sam has received numerous nominations including BAFTA Scotland Best Actor and Critics’ Choice Best Actor. He has also won many fan-generated accolades, including People’s Choice Award, Saturn Award, Entertainment Weekly’s EW Best Actor, Drama and Radio Times’ TV Champion, and more.

Away from the entertainment world, Sam’s love of a dram and his homeland inspired the launch of his award-winning whisky brand, The Sassenach.

A driving force in Sam’s life is his commitment to charity and he is the founder of the global movement My Peak Challenge, which he launched in 2015. It’s dedicated to educating and inspiring its thousands of members around the globe to live healthier, happier and more balanced lives while fundraising to change lives. It has raised more than $5million for its charity partners to date.

Write Start: The Sam Heughan Creative Commission

© Robert McFadzean/RCS


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