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Drama UK to close after mass exodus

Drama UK is to close after a number of schools left the body last year. Photo: Christian-Bertrand/Shutterstock
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Training accreditation body Drama UK is to close, following a year in which several high-profile member schools quit the organisation.

A letter sent to all current and recent members of the drama school body confirmed the decision of its board to “cease all activities and to proceed with the winding up of Drama UK”.

The decision follows a turbulent period for the organisation. In 2015, it lost members such as the Conservatoire for Dance and Drama – which includes RADA, LAMDA and the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School – as well as the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. This reduced the number of its accredited schools in full membership to 13.

Schools that remained include Drama Studio London, Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance, Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts and the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.

In a statement, the trustees of Drama UK said they were beginning an “orderly closure” of the company, which provides accreditation for drama training in the UK.

It said “significant changes in higher-education funding” meant its role as an accreditation body was “no longer required or sustainable”.

Trustee Pauline Tambling explained: “The drama schools that were independent in 2000, with no state funding, are now funded through the higher-education funding system. That means they get their accreditation and quality assurance via the state system and no longer need any accreditation from the industry.”

Tambling stressed that plans would be formulated to ensure that showcases, careers advice and course finder tools would continue.

Within the past year, a number of high-profile conservatoires, including CDD, Central and Guildhall have joined Conservatoires UK, a membership body that has traditionally represented music conservatoires but has a growing number of drama schools on its roster.

Central principal Gavin Henderson told The Stage that it had remained a member of Drama UK despite joining Conservatoires UK “out of solidarity with the wider constituency”.

He added: “Conservatoires UK has pretty tight criteria, so a lot of people from Drama UK are now looking around to see how they can find some means of remaining together.”

He also expressed concerns about there no longer being a way to “assure agents and casting directors of an element of quality”.

George Peck, principal of Oxford School of Drama – which left Drama UK in 2015 – said the industry now needed to move forward with a clearer strategy regarding vocational training.

“The industry needs to get together with a small number of highly respected vocational schools to produce clear guidelines as to what a vocational training entails, to ensure that potential students have the information they require to make well-informed judgements about where to train,” he said.

In the letter to schools, Drama UK, which was formed by a merger between the National Council for Drama Training and the Conference of Drama Schools in 2012, confirmed that forthcoming international showcases will go ahead as planned.

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