Drama training centre faces the axe

By David GreenEAST Anglia's most prestigious drama training facility is facing the axe - because of financial cutbacks. A campaign has been launched to prevent closure of the drama studio at the University of East Anglia (UEA) which cost £1 million and was officially opened by the famous playwright, Harold Pinter, in 1993 in the presence of actors such as Timothy West and Prunella Scales.

By David Green

EAST Anglia's most prestigious drama training facility is facing the axe - because of financial cutbacks.

A campaign has been launched to prevent closure of the drama studio at the University of East Anglia (UEA) which cost £1 million and was officially opened by the famous playwright, Harold Pinter, in 1993 in the presence of actors such as Timothy West and Prunella Scales.

Drama courses, at Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy levels, would be phased out over a period of three years.


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The studio includes a fully equipped 200-seater theatre, a rehearsal room and a workshop. The whole complex could be demolished and the site redeveloped under the present proposals.

Manys students completing drama courses at the UEA have gone on to work in theatre, television and film.

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The UEA drama facility is ranked tenth in the country among 78 institutions and there are an average of eleven applicants for each place on courses.

Staff are currently engaged in formal consultations with the university vice-chancellor, Professor David Eastwood, and have put forward a range of proposals for reducing costs and generating new income.

They have pointed to the impact on arts provision in the region when a series of initiatives are being encouraged by the Government and Education Minister, Charles Clark, who is one of Norwich's MPs.

Professor Ralph Yarrow, a member of the drama department faculty, urged people to express their views about the proposed closure which may be confirmed as early as June.

Doreen Aitken, who is representing students and technicians on a working party looking at the closure proposals said a petition had already attracted more than 2,500 signatures.

Ned Glazier, Students Union spokesman, said members "full and actively" supported the campaign launched by staff and students to try to prevent the closure.

"It is a sad day when such proposals are made solely on the basis of finance," he said.

A UEA statement said: "The drama course at the UEA has an excellent reputation and attracts committed and well motivated students but the cost of running the course leaves us with a funding shortfall.

"This situation is much regretted. It has only been reached after close consideration of the resources position and does not imply criticism of any member or members of staff who work very hard and with great passion and commitment to make drama and its courses a success."

But staff say much of the shortfall is due to courses being charged for use of the studio at an unprecedented rate.

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