ALRA drama school shuts with immediate effect

Published
Image source, Google
Image caption,
The school had a campus in Wandsworth Common, south London

A scandal-hit drama school that trained stars including Miranda Hart has closed down without warning, saying it was no longer "financially viable".

The Academy of Live and Recorded Arts (ALRA) announced 44 members of staff would be made redundant on Monday with immediate effect. Students will be helped to find "alternative courses".

Students had previously accused the school of "systemic racism".

One student called the closure "disgusting".

A statement on the school's website said: "ALRA went through a restructure in spring 2021 that was designed to stabilise finances.

"But the losses made in the 2020-21 academic year and the lack of any significant new income streams in 2021-22 meant the organisation was not financially viable."

It said it tried and failed to find a "new owner to ensure the college's long-term future".

'We're never going back'

The school, which has campuses in Wigan and Wandsworth, south London, was founded in 1979.

As well as Hart, former students include Suzi Ruffell and Hannah Waddingham.

In 2020 a group of former students published an open letter accusing the institution of widespread and systemic racism.

The letter outlined some examples of racism students claimed they had endured, including an alleged incident where a teacher told a student he "looked like a terrorist" after growing a beard.

In a statement released in September of 2020, ALRA said: "We openly acknowledge that there have been failings and trauma caused by racism at ALRA in the past which we are taking very seriously. We apologise unreservedly for this, and for the time it is taking to investigate each complaint with the scrutiny they deserve.

"Individual complaints have been looked into and group letters have been acknowledged. As a result, structural changes have been made and processes have been scrutinised and developed to run effectively."

In 2021 the school made several members of staff redundant in an attempt to stabilise its financial position.

Image source, Lizzie Green
Image caption,
Student Lizzie Green says she is "heartbroken and devastated" about the closure

Rose Bruford College, based in Kent, has offered all ALRA students a place to continue their studies.

Students are able to transfer to other colleges and will be supported by St Mary's University, Twickenham.

Students were informed that the school had closed via email at 08:30 BST.

Third-year acting student Lizzie Green told the BBC: "I'm heartbroken and devastated.

"All my life I wanted to go to drama school. For it to end like this is devastating.

"It was clear the school had no money. But we pay about £14,000 a year in fees so we want to know where is the money going."

Inigo Roberston, a third-year acting student, said the closure had left him "lost".

"They told us this week about the casting for our next show - now we hear we're never going back.

"I have my dissertation in two weeks but now we don't know what to do."

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