Is there anyone who has a spare £20k lying around for the sake of their career? Our guess is you don’t, and nor do we. But for those who want to get into the arts (be an actor, say), then they really need that spare £20k. Fees for drama school for a year is, on average, about £10k and living costs for a year, especially in London, will probably be another £10k, too. And while this is all ‘roughly’, the important point is those recognised qualifications in the arts can be really damn expensive.
Julie Walters told The Guardian recently that people ‘like her’ wouldn’t get a chance in our world today: “I could because I got a full grant. I don’t know how you get into it now. Kids write to me all the time and I think, ‘I don’t know what to tell you’.” It’s a discussion that’s been floating around for a while, especially with most successful British actors (Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch, David Oyelowo, Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne et al) being Oxbridge alumni.
Scottish actor and all-round national treasure James McAvoy – who worked in a bakery to fund his acting studies – has waded in on the debate saying that although ‘posh’ actors can’t help their schooling, if the trend continues it could be really damaging. Via Yahoo! Movies: “That’s a frightening world to live in because as soon as you get one tiny pocket of society creating all the arts, or culture starts to become representative not of everybody, but of one tiny part, and that’s not fair to begin with, but it’s also damaging for society.”
To combat this we’ve found art centres, colleges and workshops throughout the UK who welcome everyone and anyone to come and learn more about getting into the arts, and you don’t need 20k to do it, either.
Wac Arts – London
Wac Arts believes exactly what we just said – the arts should be inclusive, and so they encourage young people, especially those facing challenges and hardships, to get involved in performing arts and media programmes. Marianne Jean-Baptise attended Wac, and said they were encouraged to try everything and to create: “I don’t think you get that type of training anywhere else.” They run activities and courses in dance, theatre, music, creative media and visual arts. And they’re a registered charity.
Mac – Birmingham
No, it’s not just all in London: Mac Birmingham has been around for yeaaaars, and calls itself an ‘arts complex’. Their mission? To make art an important part of people’s lives, whatever their background. There are busy programmes of theatre, dance, cinema, music, spoken word, comedy, exhibitions, and the more abstract, such as ceramics and jewellery-making. Mac works in their building, as well as in the community to support emerging artists. Get involved with one-off exciting projects or hop on a creative course at really affordable prices.
Phoenix – Brighton
The art centre in Brighton encourages creativity and collaboration for a diverse range of artists with affordable studio facilities, and prides itself on being an inclusive organisation for all. They provide space for you to develop your talents, supporting and encouraging you along the way. They have an education programme, events, studios and a gallery all under one roof. They have all the standard art courses available, as well as one on puppetry which I would definitely want to do if I wasn’t a journalist…
The Factory Youth Zone – Manchester
Manchester’s popular youth centre is a support group with a difference. With negative staistics on youth unemployment rising, as well as finding out 48% of families live below the poverty line, they did something about it to support young people as much as they can. Part of this includes an entrance into the arts, with their full size sports-hall, dance studio, music and media suites, theatre and arts room. They centre offers sessions in many arts subjects, from textiles to singing.
Rural Arts – North Yorkshire
Rural Arts has been around for over 20 years, and is a registered arts charity aiming to provide creative opportunities for people – and these range from iPad courses to life drawing! The centre runs workshops, projects and events like their #CREATEtour, which gives young people the opportunity to tour with a professional touring company in theatre, dance and musical. There’s stuff just for you young’uns and it’s a great way to get involved with creative opportunities with the community.
The Television Workshop – Nottingham
This is a really good find, if we do say so ourselves. Quoting from their website: “Workshops students are recruited based on talent, not ability to pay.” Basically, they’re training people for stage and screen, and it’s a BAFTA-winning organisation. It was previously affiliated to ITV, but is not a standalone charitable operation. With famous actors gracing their workshops, they offer the development opportunity within a group, with direct links to the film and TV industry. Basically they’ll help you get on TV, and they know how because they’ve done it before.
Crescent Arts Centre – Belfast
Yep, we know we have some GoThinkBiggers in Ireland because Facebook insights told us so. This diverse community arts centre embraces visual arts, dance, music, theatre, crafts and drama for young people with a key concept – all programmes are culturally diverse. There are professional tutors and they run events as well as a range of workshops and courses. Crescent is a registered charity and welcomes all young creatives along!
So what’s a career in the arts actually like? We asked people and made a video to show you:
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Image credit: Geoff Sims for Mac