Cardiff: Protest held over proposed cuts to Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama's youth services

A protest was held outside the Senedd over The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama's proposed cuts to its junior services Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

A protest was held outside the Senedd over The Royal College of Music and Drama's plans to close its junior provision from July.

The proposed cuts could affect 340 children between four and 18 years of age and over a hundred members of staff.

The college says it is facing “significant financial challenges” but the plans have left parents and students feeling disheartened. 

Bryony Black was one of the protest organisers. Her son has been part of the junior conservatoire since he was eight years old. 

Bryony Black's son Solomon attends the Junior Conservatoire Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

“It’s absolutely heartbreaking and it’s a devastating blow to the culture of Wales. They are disenfranchising a whole generation of artists and creatives”, she said.

“If this closure were to go ahead, it would be the only conservatoire in the UK without a junior department. So many children from working class backgrounds who are dependent on the bursaries that are provided would be unable to attain training at the level they need.”

Her son, Solomon was also at the protest. He feels betrayed by the decision.

“It’s very disheartening because of how important it is for all of us and the whole community”, he said.

“It’s been a very crucial part of my life. I joined when I was eight and it’s the only place where I feel normal, to be fair. 

“It’s had a massive impact on my life as a whole, to be honest. We base our whole weeks on it, the practising, the commitment and without it we just wouldn’t know what to do with ourselves.”

Solomon has been going to the Junior Conservatoire since he was eight years old Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

The Royal Welsh College is currently undergoing a consultation around the proposals. They recognise the concerns of staff and students but say they have to make “some difficult decisions”.

In a statement published on their website, they said: "Our Young Acting and Young Music work needs a considerable subsidy from the College as we receive no direct funding for pre-College education from the Higher Education Funding Council Wales (now Commission for Tertiary Education and Research) or the Welsh Government.

"Continuing to subsidise Young RWCMD in this way isn’t sustainable given the serious financial pressures on us. We remain fully committed to providing opportunities in music and theatre for young people and to creating pathways into professional training.

Parents and children who attend the Junior Conservatoire gathered outside the Senedd Credit: ITV Cymru Wales

"We will continue to deliver project work, including a series of weekend immersive music workshops, the National Open Youth Orchestra residency at RWCMD, and our holiday courses in production arts.

"Alongside these, we will consider how best to develop a new and sustainable future model, collaborating with other arts organisations, and building on the ongoing partnership work for example, through the National Music Service.”

A Welsh Government spokesperson said: “Wales’ culture, art and sports institutions are an integral part of our society and wellbeing, enriching our communities and inspiring future generations.

“We have acted to mitigate the full scale of the budget pressures on these sectors, however, we have been clear our budget is up to £700m less in real terms than when it was set in 2021 and we have had to take extremely difficult decisions to focus funding on core public services, including the NHS.”

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