CDMT is concerned about the proposal to reduce by 50% the high-cost subject funding allocated to the performing and creative arts in the Office for Students’ consultation on recurrent funding for 2021-22.
A letter from the Education Secretary says that the OfS should ‘reprioritise funding towards the provision of high-cost, high-value subjects that support the NHS and wider healthcare policy, high-cost STEM subjects and/or specific labour market needs.’
The suggested cut will be shattering for Higher Education provision in the performing arts, affecting the financial viability of key vocational courses and having a detrimental impact on the sector as a whole.
A generation of creative professionals will be denied the opportunity to reach their potential, with less affluent young people disproportionately affected, further impacting a cohort of learners who have already faced serious disruption by the Covid-19 conditions.
Whilst the performing arts do require notable financial support, the OfS proposals regrettably make the assumption that their study is of less value than others.
CDMT Accredited schools offering professional training in dance, drama and musical theatre transform lives, enrich communities, and drive regional and national economic growth.
They are a unique source of ready practitioners and new talent essential for the regeneration and renewal of the industry in future years.
These Accredited schools have a combined total of students on full-time vocational courses in the performing arts of 6,300 and an average graduate progression to the industry of over 89%.
Along with the government’s Dance and Drama Awards scheme, many are supported as Higher Education providers. This proposed funding reduction will impact on the existing ‘pipeline’ of highly trained professionals on which the sector relies.
In 2019, the arts and culture contributed £10.8 Billion to the UK economy and £2.8 Billion to the Treasury through taxation, and generated a further £23 Billion a year and 360,000 jobs (Arts Council England).
It is therefore a matter of national interest to ensure that the next generation of performing arts workers are suitably trained and equipped to join a sector that can help drive the growth, job-creation and innovation that the UK now needs more than ever to recover and thrive.
Also, by removing the London weighting, as suggested by the OfS consultation, many students will be placed at a disadvantage in relation to their accommodation, travel and day-to-day living costs, facing substantial hardships. The notice given by the proposals is far too short to enable Higher Education providers to plan effectively for September 2021.
The UK has a long-standing reputation for the provision of outstanding professional training in dance, drama and musical theatre. However, in an economic climate where there is growing pressure on higher-level studies and the arts specifically this reputation could now be at risk.
The economy can only benefit from the creative contributions made by future trained professional practitioners from vocational training institutions in the performing arts whose diverse and talented graduates underpin the success of the cultural industries.
Photo Credit: Phil Hitchman