Working Class Performers are Losing Training Options in the UK

Lewis Baird

We need to address an issue within training for the performing arts in the United Kingdom. In England, Northern Ireland and Wales right now, you must pay tuition fees to go to a university, which means, any actors, directors or writers who wish to study a BA must have the money to afford this course or else look for a scholarship. In Scotland, the government funds the majority of our courses, which means that you would think that working-class students within the performing arts within Scotland would have a better chance to get the training they deserve.

Well you're wrong.

In Scotland we have some great training institutes which provide us with a college level training from NC to HND (National Certificate to Higher National Diploma). I have attended three institutes which have provided me with excellent training in the arts however I wish to be a secondary school drama teacher, which means I need a bachelor arts degree in acting, before I can do my postgraduate degree in secondary teaching. However, I cannot afford to pay the ridiculous £9,000 tuition fees that are required for studying drama down south. Therefore, I need a BA acting course which is funded by the government or another source. We have the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland which is recognised internationally for being a renowned training centre, therefore due to the high demand of this institute they have very limited spaces available. There is University West of Scotland, Queen Margarets University and Edinburgh Napier University, they all provide excellent training opportunities for actors.

Now, there are thousands of students currently studying performing arts in college who wish to progress onto university to further their education, probably about 90% of them will not be able to afford the extortionate fees demanded elsewhere in the UK. Therefore, the universities above are the only ones available within the country which are government or privately funded for them to continue to study acting. And I do believe Musical Theatre and Dance has even more limited availability than this. So, think how difficult it is for us working class actors to be able to thrive in this environment when our opinions are limited.

And in the rest of the UK it is ridiculous! It is a completely elitist arrangement, imposed by the conservative government to better the upper classes. Down south and elsewhere in the UK, it is going to be severely difficult for working class students to be able to go to further training out with college due to being unable to afford the mandatory fees.

In Scotland, New College Lanarkshire, based near Glasgow, supplies excellent training for performers, they offer HNC, HND and BA. Well, that's about to change, Northumbria University, based in England, has cut the funding to NCLAN's BA Acting and Musical Theatre courses. Causing the two courses to be disbanded. This is appalling that courses which have been highly successful by providing the industry with many talented individuals, have been taken away from students who have seen the results of these courses and have been working hard to progress to this level. This college was supplying its students and students moving from other colleges within Scotland and the rest of the UK a chance to develop their skills in an intense course, working with experienced industry professionals, to prepare them for the career they wished to pursue. Now students and lecturers of this institution are being made to look into other options. Below this article there is a petition addressed directly to the University of Northumbria. If you wish to help these students fight to get their performing arts degree without the ridiculous tuition fees then please sign, it will help take a stand to show that the arts are important and training is limited within Scotland and the rest of the UK for the working class.

In light of this, I think working class members of the performing arts community within the United Kingdom and elsewhere within the world should take a stand to show that this is not a career just for those of the upper classes and that we SHOULD be given the best training options in a way that is not going to put us into severe debt. The industry is changing into one where it is almost like people are buying the opportunities to become a performer rather than working hard and earning their title as a performer. Use the hashtag #SaveTheArts on Facebook and on Twitter. Share this post. This isn't just about education but also the industry as a whole, there should be more social diversity however, within recent years, especially within the United Kingdom, it’s just not happening.

#SaveTheArts #SaveOurBA

Please sign this petition for New College Lanarkshire:

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