Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama

Widening access to the arts

The Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama plays a unique role in identifying and nurturing the most talented young musicians and actors from Wales and the South West of England. The College’s thriving Junior Conservatoire and Young Actors Studio (YAS) provide intensive (seven/six hours respectively each weekend) training in Cardiff and Pembrokeshire for some 400 under 19-year-olds, some of whom travel extensive distances to participate. The majority progress to professional training.

Established in 1996, 100% of students graduating from the Junior Conservatoire’s Advanced Course have progressed to Higher Education, many the first in their family to do so.  An average of 77% of these leavers study music, at least 66% at a UK conservatoire, the others at UK universities including Oxford and Cambridge.

Launched in 2008, the Young Actors Studio has since 2012 achieved an excellent progression rate into the College’ highly competitive BA Acting Course, with approximately a quarter to a third of the Yr 1 intake comprising YAS students.

To enable participation by all talented students, regardless of family circumstances, and due to the generosity of a number of charitable organisations, Junior Conservatoire and YAS students can access means-tested bursaries of up to 100% of fees. Bursaries are allocated according to proven family circumstances and awarded as a remission of course fees. On average, up to two thirds of Junior Conservatoire Advanced course students receive a bursary. In YAS, 38% of the Cardiff-based YAS Acting Course students receive a bursary, while this figure is 91% in the Pembrokeshire-based YAS Acting Course.

Of course, weekdays at the College is home to over 700 talented young artists from around the world who are preparing for professional work in Acting, Music, Musical Theatre, Opera, Theatre Design and Stage Management. Each year, many undergraduate music students create and deliver an innovative and inspiring series of outreach projects for schools and community groups. In a symbiosis which also serves to widen access to RWCMD, the students gain professional training, while bringing a unique live music experience to participants within our local community who range from the youngest to the oldest, as well as the poorest and those with disabilities. The work takes place under the expert supervision of highly-qualified staff, many of whom are members of Welsh National Opera and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, and is universally well receive by schools; Mrs James, Headteacher at Trinant Primary School said following a recent Schools Opera performance:

 “Our pupils were absolutely spellbound. We could never afford to take all our pupils to a performance like this so you are helping us to break the poverty barriers.”