Plea for the stage

Victoria Neumark

Four out of 10 drama students cannot start courses for which they have successfully auditioned. Many more begin courses with limited money of their own or a partial grant only to drop out later when their funds run out.

Many LEAs, facing cuts in their overall funding have withdrawn discretionary awards for these vocational courses. A report, Funding Dance and Drama Training - The Case for Change (National campaign for the Arts Pounds 5) calls for a fair solution to this waste of talent.

Such luminaries of the performance arts as Sir Anthony Hopkins, Antoinette Sibley and Lord Attenborough join Lord Gowrie, Chairman of the Arts Council of Great Britain to declare that "if (students) have the talent to win a place against fierce competition, then they should receive a grant to meet their fees."

The report suggests some principles on which a possible solution should be based. As now, access to training must be based on talent; dance and drama students should be able to expect the same level of support that any student their age studying in a public institution should receive; geographical barriers should be overcome so that students can move away from home to accredited courses; the training system must be big enough to provide enough students to meet the needs of the dance and drama professions; any additional funding should not be at the expense of other vocational arts training (like music or the visual arts); and there must be wide consultation.

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