Training for a career in theatre is often a really exciting experience - but it can also be daunting, particularly when figuring out how you’re going to pay for it all. Taking into consideration accommodation, materials, travel, and other living expenses, a three-year drama school course can be expensive. So where do you start looking for funding to help train towards a career in theatre and what types of funding are available?
A good place to start looking would be to check out Get Into Theatre’s Funding Opportunities. On this page, you can find a wide range of bursaries, awards, and scholarships for training across on and offstage roles - you can even filter them for targeted opportunities if you’re from a Black, Asian or ethnically diverse background, from a low-income household or identify as D/deaf and/or disabled.
One of the things to consider is what type of training is best for you. This might be a three-year bachelor’s degree, or a shorter diploma or master’s programme at either a university or a specialist drama school. Other approaches include (but are definitely not limited to) apprenticeships and short-term or part-time programmes, courses, or qualifications. The type of training available might depend on what role you see yourself in - for example, there are technical theatre and stage management apprenticeships, but these are less common for Performers. You can find some of these training opportunities on Get Into Theatre here.
Unsure what area of theatre you’d enjoy? Check out this ‘complete list of jobs in the theatre industry’ for some ideas.
If you’re looking to train here in the UK, the government offers several loan schemes and awards to support training for a career in theatre. For most of these schemes, you must be a UK national (but eligibility may differ if you’re a student from Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, Jersey, Guernsey, or the Isle of Man).
Besides government programmes, there are also a number of organisations and charities around the UK offering financial support for theatre training. Here are some examples:
There are regularly new schemes and funding opportunities being created, and you might come across other organisations offering financial support - keep an eye out at your local arts venues and on social media, as organisations will often announce new programmes through these platforms.
Besides applying for funding from established organisations, you could also consider personal fundraising. This might include working part-time to save some money up or organising crowdfunding on a platform like GoFundMe. In the same vein, you could consider reaching out to friends and family to ask if they would consider pitching in to support your training endeavour.
The best thing you can do is to start thinking about funding as early as possible, once you decide where and how you want to train. Although securing funding for theatre training might be a daunting process, it’ll take one thing off your shoulders once you begin training and allow you to focus on getting the most out of your programme.
Written by Misha Mah
Misha Mah is an early-career Production Manager and Producer, with an interest in immersive work and live events. She is a graduate of the University of Birmingham’s BA Drama and Theatre Arts course, and will be commencing on the MA Stage & Production Management programme at the Guildford School of Acting this fall. She is currently the Social Media Manager for The SM NEST, the network for early-career stage managers.
Blog image: Shutterstock
Published: 1 December 2021