The troubled drama school’s acting department stopped taking recruits in from October 2019 due to controversy over the standards of its courses. It’s been confirmed over the weekend that the long-running drama school is to close many of its flagship acting programmes.
There have been a few articles over the weekend from The Stage that had confirmed what had been rumoured for months. Drama Centre, one of the top 10 drama schools in the UK is going to close some of its flagship acting programmes.
In order to understand what’s happened here, it’s important to know that no drama school is an island. Each school is put under enormous pressure in order to be cost-effective and deliver value to management. Schools are often linked to universities in order to guarantee funding and those that aren’t are usually part of UCAS or Conservatoire equivalent.
Drama Centre was owned by the University of Arts London and was under scrutiny from its management. They didn’t seem to understand the complexities of vocational training for actors and the fact that many schools require 6-8 hours of teaching time for five days a week. The differences between the faculty, students and management have meant that an established and highly respected school will now close its doors.
The courses to close are: Foundation Studies in Performance, BA Acting, MA Acting, MA Directing, MA Screen: Acting, and MA Screen: Directing.
This is just the start…
The fact that the government has hiked up student fees has meant that pupils are more discerning about which acting courses they enroll on to. Apart from that the competition for universities to receive funding has got extremely fierce over the last five years. Often colleges have to attract donors and patrons and that process has got a lot more difficult for boards of drama schools.
This fact compounded by the fact that the Arts Council’s budget has been cut has meant that training for actors is under serious pressure.
I’m not surprised that the University of Arts London has taken the decision to close many of its acting courses. Due to the fact that high-level acting courses are so resource-draining, it was only a matter of time before they took a stand. This is precisely the reason why the UK has such a fantastic reputation worldwide for acting training. Drama Centre produced some fantastic actors and had great alumni because of the high level training its staff provided.
Unfortunately, I could see this becoming a trend in the near future. Funding, pensions and costs for universities are now at the forefront of both students and the faculties mindset. It’s difficult to justify acting training when you boil it down to simple numbers. That’s not how vocational artistic training works. Let’s hope that the gold standard of UK drama school training survives the cull to come.