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Written Statement - An independent review of conservatoire and performing arts provision in Wales

Huw Lewis, Minister for Education and Skills

On 30 September I announced proposals for an independent review of conservatoire and performing arts provision in Wales.

The aim of the review is to ensure that Wales continues to benefit from high quality intensive performing arts courses which focus on practical and vocational performance. Such provision is crucial to the skills needs of the creative industries and to the cultural life of Wales.

I am delighted that Lord Murphy of Torfaen has agreed to lead the review.

The terms of reference for the review are set out below. The review will report in advance of the National Assembly elections in 2016.

Terms of Reference

The provision of high quality intensive performing arts courses which focus on practical and vocational performance is crucial to the skills needs of the creative industries and to the cultural life of Wales.

The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, a wholly owned subsidiary of the University of South Wales, is the National Conservatoire of Wales and part of the University of South Wales Group. The Royal Welsh College competes alongside an international peer group of conservatoires and specialist arts colleges. Other universities in Wales provide a mix of arts, music and performance education.

The review will examine the current arrangements for supporting conservatoire and related performing arts provision in higher education in Wales, including:

a. the role of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama as a national institution, with an international profile, operating with a public good consequence

b. the potential for the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama to promote and support wider access to higher education by learners from less advantaged backgrounds and other under-represented groups

c. the place of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama working for and with the local and national community to support economic, social and cultural development with links to and support from relevant industries;

d. the relationship between the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama’s conservatoire level provision and other higher education provision in related fields in Wales.

The review will be asked to identify possibilities for future curriculum development including undergraduate musical theatre and vocational/professional dance training in Wales.

Respecting that internal governance structures and arrangements are matters for individual universities as autonomous institutions; the review will make recommendations on the future funding of conservatoire and related provision in Wales against a backdrop of significant change in higher education funding, national governance and quality assurance frameworks. The review will examine the role of the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales in supporting conservatoire and related provision, in parallel with the wider review of the governance and regulation of post 16 education and training in Wales being undertaken by Professor Ellen Hazelkorn.

The review will be evidenced based and inclusive. All relevant stakeholders will be invited to contribute including current providers of higher education in Wales, the creative industries and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales.

Timescale

The review will report by the end of April 2016.