Top drama schools funding should be ring-fenced, says report

Government-commissioned Henley report urges the coalition to continue exceptional financial support for Rada and others

Funding for the country's top drama schools must be protected, according to the government's recent review into cultural education in England.

Darren Henley's report, commissioned by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport in 2010 and published this week, recommends that "exceptional funding" for conservatoire-level arts training institutions should be "secured for the long-term".

The report says: "Within its higher education funding provision, the continued exceptional financial support for institutions such as these, should be seen as a priority by the coalition government."

At present, 19 institutions, including Rada, Lamda and Bristol Old Vic Theatre school, receive exceptional funding, allowing their fees to remain consistent with other universities despite significantly higher running costs. The report also suggests that additional institutions, such as the University of the Arts London and the University of the Creative Arts, be considered for similar funding arrangements.

Henley's report continues: "I strongly urge the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to work with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Education to ensure that long-term funding settlements are in place to allow these institutions to continue to thrive."

It also advocates the government's promotion of dance and drama as subjects in schools, in order that they be placed on an equal footing with subjects such as English or PE. Education secretary Michael Gove and culture minister Ed Vaizey have pledged an investment of £15m from the Department of Education for a number of Henley's suggestions.

Their response states: "Ministers have asked the Higher Education Funding Council for England to recognise these costs in the allocation of the teaching grant." The call for dance and drama to be promoted at school level will be fed into the ongoing review of the national curriculum.

The government has also committed to the formation of a national youth dance company, with the DfE and Arts Council England contributing £600,000 each over three years.


Matt Trueman

The GuardianTramp

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