Just in: Wales fails to listen

Just in: Wales fails to listen

The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, having decided to shut its junior department, has agreed to a ‘consultation’. But without changing its strategy.

We recognise the concerns that these proposals will cause the staff, students and parents involved. At the same time, we are very conscious of the need to make some difficult decisions to ensure that the College is ready to meet the challenges of the coming years.

That would be the ‘challenges’ of having a music college without any pre-trained young musicians.

The tone of the statement as a whole is profoundly deaf, as deterrent as the college entrance (pictured):

The Royal Welsh College is currently undergoing a consultation around proposals to stop some of our present activity with Young RWCMD. Alongside the entire UK High Education Sector, the College is facing significant financial challenges.

Young Acting and Young Music activity is important to us, and the Senior Management Team and the Board greatly value the dedication and commitment of the staff who deliver this work. We recognise the concerns that these proposals will cause the staff, students and parents involved. At the same time, we are very conscious of the need to make some difficult decisions to ensure that the College is ready to meet the challenges of the coming years.

Our Young Acting and Young Music work needs a considerable subsidy from the College as we receive no direct funding for pre-College education from the Higher Education Funding Council Wales (now Commission for Tertiary Education and Research) or the Welsh Government. Continuing to subsidise Young RWCMD in this way isn’t sustainable given the serious financial pressures on us. Furthermore, as the National Conservatoire of Wales, and in line with our wider strategy, we recognise that we have a responsibility to offer vibrant experiences into professional training that reach young people from diverse backgrounds, not just from the Cardiff area but throughout Wales, and to embrace the Welsh language. The current model of weekly, term-time activity limits our ability to do this.

These proposals potentially affect five members of our core salaried staff as well as 112 staff working variable hours who dedicate their time to teaching our students over the weekend during term time. Of these, 52 also teach on our degree courses which are not affected by these proposals. We currently have 182 Young Music (Junior Conservatoire) and 158 Young Acting (Richard Burton Youth Company, Young Actors) students studying with us.

We are determined not only to sustain the National Conservatoire for Wales, but to ensure that it thrives and meets the changing needs of students in the future. Like many higher education providers and arts organisations, this means rethinking aspects of how we deliver our training while continuing to make the highest impact and contribution possible to the performing arts, to musicians and theatre makers, and to Wales.

We remain fully committed to providing opportunities in music and theatre for young people and to creating pathways into professional training. In the first instance, we will continue to deliver project work, including a series of weekend immersive music workshops, the National Open Youth Orchestra residency at RWCMD, and our holiday courses in production arts. Alongside these, we will consider how best to develop a new and sustainable future model, collaborating with other arts organisations, and building on the ongoing partnership work for example, through the National Music Service.

UPDATE: Message from the MU:

The Musicians’ Union is devastated about the news that the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama is consulting on proposals to cease weekly Young RWCMD sessions from the end of this academic year. We are also very disappointed that the RWCMD chose not to include the MU in its initial formal consultation, but we are now supporting members involved in the consultation.

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