AN AWARD-WINNING youth orchestra has been given a £150,000 cash injection thanks to a water company.

The grant made yesterday to Young Sinfonia from Northumbrian Water represents the beginning of a new partnership between the company and the orchestra, which will be built on over the next eight years.

Young Sinfonia is a key element in the programme of the £70m Music Centre, Gateshead, due to open in 2003.

Northumbrian Water is the first business to announce a major sponsorship for Young Sinfonia, focusing on the work of the youth orchestra in the Music Education Centre.

NW chairman Sir Fred Holliday said yesterday: "I am delighted that our contribution is going not only to the exciting developments inside the building, but also well beyond it, reaching out to workplaces and the community across the region."

The company is also supporting a Young Conductor training post.

One feature is the Trading Places Training Programme, where the company and orchestra will collaborate on aspects such as leadership, team-building, time management and communications.

Northumbrian Water's Kick-Start Fund has awarded £100,000 to the project, which has prompted a further £50,000 funding from Arts and Business.