Arts Council withdraw funding for National Student Drama Festival

NSDF have until January 15th to contest this decision

The Arts Council’s unexpected decision to cut their support after 14 years for the 53-year-old National Student Drama Festival has immediately put at risk the annual festival, scheduled to take place in 3 months time.

Arts Council Yorkshire has made no criticism of NSDF. Its reasons for cutting the annual £52,000 grant is that it has decided to “refocus our investment”. It wishes to support “the strongest, highest quality building-based producing theatres…the most dynamic and innovative touring companies…venues that support the changing nature of theatre.” It says it is looking to fund “a portfolio of strong, effective organisations that help to deliver increased attendance and participation in high quality arts.”

The NSDF website commented that “this is what the National Student Drama Festival has been doing and will continue to do” and called the cuts “an absolute disgrace and insult to the future of British Theatre.”

Andy Carver, executive director of ACE, Yorkshire stated “The recommendation not to continue funding the festival was not made lightly. While we recognise the benefits of the work of the National Student Drama Festival, we believe that primary theatre training for students is more appropriately resourced through the further and higher education sectors.”

The University of Nottingham had four shows shortlisted for NSDF ’07, and two of those shows were selected to perform at NSDF ’07 in Scarborough, People At Play’s ‘Talking To Terrorists’ and Ankle Productions’ ‘Cast Aside’, both companies which have strong links to the New Theatre. The shows, which incorporated over 30 Nottingham students, were watched by almost 700 people, including many big names in professional theatre. The students selected also took part in workshops led by leading actors, writers and directors such as Mike Leigh, Hull Truck Theatre, Mark Rosenblatt and John Godber. New Theatre has already entered almost all of its shows in the Autumn ’07 season into NSDF ’08, scheduled to take place in Scarborough over the Easter holidays.

One third-year Nottingham student, who took part in NSDF last year, commented, “It is outrageous they could even consider withdrawing the funding for such an excellent project. For me, NSDF was the perfect bridge between the student and professional theatre worlds, a world there are currently very few avenues into.” She added, “The professional advice and coaching I received there from some of the leading industry professionals was absolutely invaluable.”

To help save NSDF, please sign up to the petition at
and join the Facebook group ‘Save The NSDF (the National Student Drama Festival)’


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