Cash threat to dance and drama training

BRITAIN'S performing arts could be undermined because of a funding crisis in dance and drama training, writes Ngaio Crequer.

Dance and drama schools are losing good students because many applicants cannot pay the fees and have to fit in part-time work around a demanding curriculum, according to research published yesterday.

Public funds have slowly been drying up. Two-thirds of those completing their training in the past five years relied on part-time and vacation work for their maintenance, compared with 40 per cent of those who trained in the past 10 years, according to the research, commissioned by the Arts Council of England.

Charles Jackson, of the Institute of Manpower Studies, one of the co-authors of the research, said: 'There is a strong body of evidence that the present system of funding for training, based on discretionary grants, is no longer working satisfactorily.'

Professional training remained crucial to ensuring a career in dance and drama, according to the research. There are currently 23 schools with accredited dance courses training about 1,100 students a year. In drama, schools which are members of the Conference of Drama Schools, offer three-year diploma/degree courses in acting. There are also some 12- month postgraduate courses targeted at people with experience in the field.

Careers and Training in Dance and Drama; BEBC, PO Box 1496, Parkstone, Poole, Dorset BH12 3YD; pounds 20.