The Musical Theatre Academy investigated by the Charities Commission: it is what it is.

You may well have seen The Musical Theatre Academy in London is being investigated by the Charities Commission over concerns about its safeguarding and governance arrangements.
As they say on ITV’s Love Island: it is what it is. (don’t @ me)

According to The Stage, the commission said: The public rightly expect charities to be safe places where people are free from harm. We are aware of concerns about the Musical Theatre Academy and have opened a regulatory compliance case to examine safeguarding and governance arrangements at the charity.

Ironically, The MTA was named as The Stage School of the Year in 2017.

Largely thanks to the hashtag #time4change 

In a statement, Jon Harris, chair of the trustees of the MTA said: The trustees of the MTA are fully committed to ensuring that we provide a totally safe environment for all our students, and we have compiled in full with the Charity Commission’s request.

I shared the article on Twitter with a caveat, much to a few point-missing theatre Twitter folk’s dismay. *melodramatic sigh*

Anyway, in my experience it’s hard to rationalise with people on the payroll; they live in a wilfully blind, hypocritical universe and ignore any personal and professional failings.

So as not to prejudice the outcome of the regulatory compliance case, it would be unprofessional for me to speculate or expand further. Nevertheless, an investigation of this kind is not a formal one, but does allow the Charity Commission to make “further enquiries”.

When money is involved, and the shit hits the fan, facts and truth are usually the first casualties. Like other drama schools, fees for The MTA are steep: £4000 per term (all inclusive) £16,000/yr = £32,000 for the full course.

You may disagree, of course, and think the MTA is trying to solve a very real problem rather than just its own unique selling point headache. In our diverse sector, though, regulatory interventions are not uncommon.

But there are two very good reasons I don’t begin to think the MTA is not sin free.

Without prejudice, obviously.

Firstly, spout all the inclusive, right-on platitudes you like, the industry is ruthless and Drama Schools are not community outreach programmes, pacifying the vulnerable through the medium of song and dance. They are a business.

And secondly, there is no smoke without fire.

Then again, it may be, and maybe the MTA has designed a course to be suitable for young people who are better emotionally equipped to deal with the harsh reality of the sector. After all, according to a recent study by Queen Mary College only 2% of actors earn a living from the profession and 90% are out of work at any one time.

On the breaking of the news, a current student messaged me to say: ‘Without the help of the MTA I never would have received treatment for my anxiety and my life would be worse off for it.’ Which is admirable. 

Let’s not forget that after all, mental health provision for young people in the UK is worse than much of the Eastern Europe; this the generation of millennial meltdown and ‘snowflakes’; Brexit Britain feels like a constant crisis. 

On the face of it, the urgent need for transparency in 2019 is in keeping with the times – especially from charities. Let’s hope there is a swift resolution and outcome for staff, current and prospective students.
In the UK, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org