Superb work by West Sussex's Ariel Drama Academies acknowledged nationally

West Sussex-based Ariel Drama Academies have been celebrated at a prestigious national awards ceremony in Liverpool.

Artistic and Drama Academies Director Nicci Hopson, Operations Manager Beth Gavin and Company Director Bev Locke
Artistic and Drama Academies Director Nicci Hopson, Operations Manager Beth Gavin and Company Director Bev Locke

During the first lockdown, Ariel Drama Academies received the news that from 64,000 applicants, they had been shortlisted to the final eight at the National Diversity Awards in the Community Age Category.

The nomination came in recognition of the “fully inclusive nature of Ariel’s academies, the opportunities given to students to learn life-skills to ensure brighter futures and the high standard of theatrical training every individual receives.”

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The awards ceremony was held this autumn at Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, with television presenter Konnie Huq hosting the event. Other nominees included Little Mix star Leigh-Anne Pinnock, who was the recipient of the Celebrity of the Year Award and Lord Simon Wooley who received the Lifetime Achiever Award.

From 126 shortlisted nominees at the event, Ariel Drama Academies were the only Sussex-based organisation recognised.

Nicci Hopson, Ariel’s artistic director, said: “To be celebrated at The National Diversity Awards has been such an honour. Listening to the inspirational stories and work taking place all over the UK has definitely given us a fresh energy to continue the vital work we do within our local community. There is still so much to be done to promote the need for positive inclusion for all children, young adults and all individuals with additional needs and disabilities.”

Nicci added: “Ariel is a family theatre company and a leading light in all aspects of theatrical training, including dance, drama and singing, with established academies in Burgess Hill, Crawley, East Grinstead, Haywards Heath, Horsham and Shoreham.

“Each academy has dedicated teams of specialist tutors who work with the special needs group, The Othellos, every week providing an inspiring, inclusive and creative safe-space for over 300 individuals with special additional needs and disabilities.”

For free trials at Ariel Drama Academy and to learn more about The Othellos sessions, visit or call 01444 250407.