19th July 7pm announced publicly that we were closing The MTA in September 2021. This was not a ploy, it was a heartbreaking reality.
29th July midday announced that somehow we had been ‘saved’. In just 10 days the darkest day of The MTA turned into the brightest day. We’re under no illusions that we’re saved for good – but we are safe long enough to allow the class of 2022 to graduate, and for the past 3 to 4 months that’s all we were trying to do. We have plans and supporters in place to work with us to secure a better future for the college, but we’ll be taking it one step at a time. Of course the intention is to keep going – but we set out to do one thing first.
In the last 10 days, though we’ve seen instalives packed with MT royalty supporting the #savetheMTA campaign, we’ve seen a Go Fund Me campaign raised at the last look over £16k, we’ve had offers of support both financial and in kind. I’ve spoken more to Chairman Jon Harris than I have to my wife, as we worked our way through the various obstacles and aids that were thrown at us.
I’ve been reminded time and time again that my poor self-esteem really can’t handle compliments. I’ve been taken on countless trips down Memory Lane, with past students and staff, lots of those trips were just sheer laughter, a couple of sheer horror but quite a few of them were devastatingly humbling.
I’ve been reminded (as if I needed it actually) that I have an amazing group of friends that really ‘get me’, who know when to back off, and exactly when to parachute in with words of wisdom. My family are my heroes.
I spent half the week emailing people telling them that things had been canceled, and terminating contracts, whilst the latter part of the week emailing them back to say that things were all back on.
To say that I’m reeling is an understatement. However, most of all I feel a huge sense of relief. Carrying the stress of the past year has taken a tremendous toll on me. That old work/life balance definitely needs adjusting, but suddenly the college once again has a sense of possibility and hope about it, as opposed to a sense of inevitability.
Over the past year, the pandemic had almost forced the wider MTA community apart. Not so fulfilling to pop into a zoom room as it is to pop into a Green Room. Whilst every so often we’d all come together for some online event or another it did feel like it had drifted. However, once the closure announcement was made those ambassadors were just phenomenal. I had spent the best part of the year sad for my 1st years because they had no sense of the greater MTA community when suddenly they all parachuted down to help out of nowhere.
I’ve kept saying this but The MTA is not the only independent drama college focussing on vocational training. There’s a few of us about, and we’re all being sold out by the industry’s gatekeepers and that really needs to change. We’re going to keep doing our thing because we know that it works, and from the outpouring of support we’ve had over the last 10 days it seems obvious that quite a few people agree with us. We’ve consciously not issued press releases – predominantly because I loathe how in recent years The Stage has noticeably changed direction from the ‘we’ll support everyone’ stance that we used to know and love into the ‘we’ll only talk about the Federation of Drama Schools’ as if there’s nothing else out there. Well let’s just call it shall we – as a lot of those colleges are currently undertaking internal investigations on really serious allegations, but The Stage still reveres the ground that they walk on. The Stage (and Equity) should be campaigning to regulate the UK training industry. Instead, everybody stays quiet.
They are our industry newspaper and have done next to nothing to highlight and campaign about the lack of provision in vocational training, just like Equity have done nothing. Too many ‘old boys’ looking after the ‘old boys’ for my liking. Plus now that they’ve added these ridiculous clickbait headlines to social media posts knowing full well that the articles are behind a paywall . . . well I’m done with pretending that that’s OK. We’ve called it out a few times over the closure, and it’s been interesting to see others call it out too. Well, we’re done with being quiet with this stuff moving forward. Things really do need to change.
That said, and rant over, for now, I’m going to take some time to finish off this academic year, regroup, reset then move forward. The path ahead though doesn’t feel as lonely as usual.