So just what do performing arts courses cost? I have spent a great deal of time during the last two weeks researching the details of courses offered by a wide range of providers for The Stage’s Summer School Supplement (March 14) and Postgraduate Courses Supplement (March 21).
And if you think that the answer to my simple question is easy to find then you’d be very much mistaken. Yes, of course there are schools, colleges and youth theatres which state costs very clearly on the first page of the website which deals with the course. But there are far too many who do not.
Quite often you have to download the application form before you find any mention of the fee – and that applies as often to a £300 week-long summer school as to a full-time Masters degree costing many thousands of pounds. It is both tedious and time consuming.
Or perhaps there is a great deal of gush abut the “unique” (it won’t be) “exciting” (maybe) course, but you have to search all over the page to find a “fees” button which, typically, will be very unobtrusive. And in some cases there is no mention of the fee at all – at least that I can find – so it’s a matter of phoning or emailing for the “further details” which is even more time consuming and really shouldn’t be necessary.
So why aren’t all course providers being open and upfront about the cost of their product? It is, after all, one of the first things you need to know. However good the course, if you can’t afford it – or have no means of funding it – then you can’t have it. And you are, in my view, entitled to know this at the outset rather than reading many effusive details about a course before realising that it is totally out of your reach.
I think some course providers are being deliberately – and with questionable ethics – coy about course costs. Presumably they are afraid that the truth will put people off. Or is it a case, as in the shops in South Moulton Street, that “If you need to ask the price you can’t afford it”? Dreadful arrogance, if so.
Actually it is simply infuriating – and puts me right off the institutions concerned – not to have ready access to the information which any potential purchaser needs. If you are running charged-for courses at any level I suggest you check your website and, if you are guilty of any of the above, rectify it.