ICSM Business News: crisis in education as the Read College of drama warns of financial problems while there's been a string of schools and colleges crashing

ICSM Business News: crisis in education as the Read College of drama warns of financial problems while there's been a string of schools and colleges crashing

By Harry Mottram: The cold winds of recession are blowing through the corridors of drama schools across the country as fewer students can afford the increasing fees and the running costs of the institutions become prohibitive.

The trade journal of the acting and dramatic arts industries The Stage has reported on the worries of The Read School in Reading about its future. In an  article last month Matthew Hemley reported it could close if new investment is not found. He wrote: “Drama school Read College has warned it faces closure within weeks if "vital" funds are not raised in time to save it. The college, based in Reading, said it was facing a "critical time" due to factors including the increased cost of running its building, its financial recovery post-Covid and its inability to ‘host international students’.

The college said: “The college is in a critical position and it is with a very heavy heart that we have to confirm that it is now apparent that if vital funds are not raised by the end of this term, Read College faces closure.”

The college has embarked on a fundraising appeal that includes shows, donations from the likes of Strictly Come Dancing judge Craig Revel Horwood and even a concert by Tony Christie in January and has only just been able to stave off closure.

However from the point of view of suppliers to colleges and private schools Ian Carrotte of ICSM said they should be cautious as it is easy to be persuaded they cannot fail. He pointed to the collapse of the MTA drama school in August leaving suppliers unpaid and students out of pocket having paid up front for their fees. Plus there was The Academy of Live and Recorded Arts (ALRA) based in London and Manchester that crashed in April leaving a trail of debts.

In 2019 GSM London went bust following an expose by BBC Panorama that highlighted fraudulent applications for student loans, while in the same year Hadlow College in Kent became insolvent and closed. This year Bruton School for Girls has announced it was to close in June after 122 years after struggling to attract more pupils.

Ian Carrotte said: “Colleges, universities and schools in the private sector are like any other business and are subject to the usual problems of overheads, customer retention and debt. They all have a huge number of suppliers from stationers to printers, from food and drink companies to school transport firms – let alone computers and books. Plus they have huge staffing costs, utilities like power and water and of course the small matter of HMRC. A fall in student or pupil numbers can spell problems – so suppliers must always stick to their      terms of credit and not allow sentimentality to set in or they can be left with unpaid invoices.”


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