Hard times hit hopes in schools of fame
Wednesday 05 June 1996
Many have to work in restaurants, bars and even on obscene phone lines to pay their pounds 6,000-a-year fees, says a report published yesterday that reveals the difficulties drama and dance students have in securing state funding.
Principals of drama schoolssaid the situation has become so bad that they have had to set up emergency food stores for students, or buy them meals from their own pockets. Some students have had to drop out halfway through their courses because a parent died or could no longer afford the fees. Many others were unable to take up places at all.
Unlike university undergraduates, dance and drama students depend on discretionary awards from local education authorities (LEAs), which often choose not to fund their relatively expensive training.
More than one in four LEAs refuse to grant any such awards, said the survey, conducted by the National Foundation for Educational Research. And less than half of the 109 LEAs in England and Wales which do give awards are prepared to pay the full amount - about pounds 30,000 over three years - necessary to pay fees and living expenses.
Last year, the number of students given dance or drama awards fell by 12 per cent and the total cash expenditure by 13 per cent. Music and art students receive mandatory grants.
Dame Diana Rigg, the actress who gained international fame in The Avengers, has described this trend as "very, very dangerous".
Forty years ago, she danced before 10 gentlemen at Leeds Town Hall to win a grant to go to Rada. At that time there was a trend towards investing in dance and drama.
"Now the trend is being reversed," she said. "About 10 years ago, I started getting letters from drama students who needed help with their fees. Some had places but couldn't afford to go. Others had done two years of their courses and then their grant was cut."
Simon Woods, the general manager of the Birmingham School of Speech and Drama, said 90 per cent of his students had to work on phone lines and in bars and restaurants to help pay their fees.
"The father of a student of ours became disabled two years into her course," he said. "She's now facing the prospect that she can't finish her training."
The college has had to set up a store of food - mainly pasta and canned tomatoes donated by supporters - to issue in emergencies. Students request supplies on a weekly basis.
Brenda Kaye, administrator of the Drama Centre in London, said many of her students are forced to live at home and travel hundreds of miles to and from college every day.
"We have students who cannot afford to eat," she said. "Members of staff pay for their meals out of their own pockets."
After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violencefilm
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 2 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 3 Kajieme Powell: Missouri police release video footage of second man killed by officers
- 4 Paul Scholes: Manchester United need five experienced players who can turn round a desperate situation
- 5 James Foley 'beheading': Met police warn public watching murder video could be criminal offence
Laughs go global as Eddie Izzard and Dylan Moran bring international comedians to the Edinburgh Fringe
The Top Ten: Horrible buildings
JK Rowling writes new Harry Potter story on Pottermore: Introducing 'Singing Sorceress' Celestina Warbuck
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Celebrity Big Brother 2014 line-up: Meet the contestants from Lauren Goodger to Kellie Maloney and Audley Harrison
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Crisis? What crisis? A visiting US doctor gives the NHS a rave review
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Scottish Independence Referendum: Salmond described as 'arrogant, ambitious and dishonest' by Scottish women