It is becoming harder and harder for young working class actors to make their way in the performance industry in Britain. A rise in tuition fees at drama schools, cuts to arts funding and the credit crunch have led to a lack of opportunities for the economically working class actors of this country. A study from Goldsmith University said that now only 10% of actors in the industry come from lower and middle income backgrounds.
Tom Stocks is one of our agents who uses us for our flexibility, and has also encountered these problems as he comes from a working class background. He was due to go back to drama school for an MA in but had to defer because of lack of funds and lack of scholarship opportunities here is part of his story.
“I was fortunately offered a place on the MA Acting course at a drama school in London, starting in September 2014. It has always been my dream to attend, in order to pursue my dream of becoming an actor. To finally get offered the place I had to compete with over 3000 applicants for 25 places on the course, and through hard work and determination I finally got there. However the tuition fees are £12,000 for the year, £4000 for living costs and equipment and with no drama scholarships allowed to be given to any Masters students I had to find a way to fund it myself. Due to the large sum of money required, I deferred my place in 2013 for a year so I could work full time and save as much money as possible in order to make my dream of drama school become a reality. However working as a low paid chef, saving was not easy only being able to save half of the money that was needed.”
Instead of resting on his laurels Tom founded Actor Awareness an organisation designed to help out people in his situation. Actor Awareness focuses on showcasing talent from working class actors and performers with theatre performances, festivals, short films etc, as well as raising awareness to plight of young actors in this country. The organisation is gaining notoriety with Tom appearing on television in promotion of his campaign. Here’s what he had to say,
“I decided to build Actor Awareness and help people who are in the same boat as me. The industry its self is ruining so many opportunities with rising theatre ticket prices and drama school fees, paying £40+ to audition for higher education, lack of funding, community projects drying up, I could go on for ever… It’s easy to get lost in the crowd and with little industry contacts or a buffer of money, you have to have that extra drive to work hard and make yourself stand out. I wanted to start the #ActorsAwareness campaign to help give working class actors like me a voice and a network of likeminded artists who could encourage and support each other.
If you would like to found out more about Tom’s campaign check out there Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/actorawareness or twitter feed https://twitter.com/actorawareness