A powerful performance from Scotland’s national conservatoire

A powerful performance from Scotland’s national conservatoire

Published: 05/12/2018

Breaking down barriers, pushing boundaries and sharing the transformative power of the performing and production arts … there has been much to celebrate at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) as the curtain lowers on the reporting year.

Scotland’s national conservatoire held its Annual General Meeting today (Wednesday, December 5) reflecting on a year which will be remembered for many special moments, from being ranked as one of the world’s top ten institutions for performing arts for the third year running (QS World University Rankings 2016-18) to being recognised as number one in Scotland for graduate employability (HESA 2016/17).

Nick Kuenssberg, Chair of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, said: “The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland is an extraordinary place which plays a vital role in nurturing the next generation of performing and production artists. This year, students, staff and alumni successes have reinforced why it is one of the world’s leading education establishments. They are a constant source of pride and inspiration and we look forward to seeing what 2019 will bring.”

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Principal, Professor Jeffrey Sharkey, recognised a wide range of institutional and individual successes in a challenging environment. He stressed the importance to RCS of active partnerships and collaborations, both in Scotland and internationally, in ensuring RCS was both accessible and world class. Professor Sharkey noted collaborations with a range of international institutions including conservatoires in Xinghai and Tianjin in China and the University of Southern California in the US, as well as the importance of RCS’s close links with European and Nordic institutions.

Closer to home, he cited the impact of the conservatoire’s partnership with Dumfries House which offers progression opportunities to young people in East Ayrshire studying strings and modern ballet. As a result of the programme, more than 850 young people in East Ayrshire primary schools now receive access to strings education.

Professor Jeffrey Sharkey said: “High-quality arts education, access to it, and the opportunity to progress are all of enormous importance to young people in Scotland. An investment in arts education is an investment in the future creative economy of Scotland, as well as the wellbeing and enrichment of individuals and their communities. The breadth of audiences and artists and creative entrepreneurs cannot be sustained, or indeed established in the first place, if young people are struggling to find affordable and accessible pathways to meaningful progress in the arts.

“As Scotland’s national conservatoire we are concerned at the barriers and iniquities which mean not all young people across Scotland have the same access to arts tuition, and we will continue to champion the value and importance of these opportunities for all young people, regardless of where they live. Creating and sustaining routes of access is vitally important and all young people should have arts as an integral element of their education, just like sport and physical education.

“In these challenging times of change, embracing the strength and importance of the arts will be essential. Those of us working in the arts and arts education know that artistic education is not simply a luxury, but an essential for a healthy society.”

Professor Sharkey also celebrated the graduation of the first cohort from the groundbreaking BA Performance degree in British Sign Language and English who are already making their mark on the professional world. RCS delivers the UK’s only full-time undergraduate degree course for D/deaf performers which is already playing a part in changing attitudes and perceptions not only on stage, but behind the scenes in the UK’s theatre industry.

A commitment to inclusivity and fair access is embedded throughout the culture of Scotland’s national conservatoire through award-winning widening access initiatives. The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s Fair Access Annual Report, is also published today (Wednesday, December 5).

It reveals:

  • a 10% increase in the number of students from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities on RCS’s award-winning Transitions programme which offers fully-funded training and support for young people living in SIMD-20 Scottish postcode areas.
  • 50% of Transitions students gaining entry to RCS undergraduate programmes were from SIMD-20 areas in 2017/18, an increase of 22% on 2016/17.
  • 1,200 pupils were reached in 33 schools through Widening Access to the Creative Industries activities.
  • Every student in the progressive Classical Strings programme at Dumfries House had an instrument for home practice while every dance student received a uniform.

And published today is the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s annual Review magazine which celebrates the achievements of current students, graduates and staff and features exclusive interviews with:

  • 2018 Olivier Award-winning actress Laura Donnelly
  • 2017 Neue Stimmen winner, Mezzo Soprano Svetlina Stoyanova
  • 2018 Modern Ballet graduate Keenan Fletcher now with Sir Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake


Read Review: https://review.rcs.ac.uk

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