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."
The best TV shows and films coming to the servicetv
Watch the new House of Cards series three trailerTV
Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards
Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears
Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants
TV ReviewThe intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
- 2 Raif Badawi, the Saudi Arabian blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes, may now face death penalty
- 3 PornHub turns masturbation into energy in bid to save the planet
- 4 Dakota Johnson's 'It's only Isis' Saturday Night Live sketch sparks controversy
- 5 The remarkable archaeological underwater discovery that could open up a new chapter in the study of European and British prehistory
Downton Abbey Christmas special 2014, review: Love is everywhere, actually
Broadchurch series 3: David Tennant and Olivia Colman to return for third season, ITV confirms
EastEnders may bring transgender character to Albert Square to challenge 'traditional' viewers
Game of Thrones season 5 spoilers: What we can expect according to George RR Martin's books
Indian Summers recommissioned: Channel 4 confirm a second series of British Empire drama
New theory could prove how life began and disprove God
This is what it's like to be dead, according to a guy who died for a bit
'Jihadi John': CAGE representative storms off Sky News accusing Kay Burley of Islamophobia
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Russia's roadmap for annexing eastern Ukraine 'leaked from Vladimir Putin's office'