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Famous names sign open letter in support of Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama

22 Jun 2024 3 minute read
RWCMD Symphony Orchestra rehearsing in Old LIbrary. (Credit: Kirsten McTernan)

Famous names including Alistair McGowan and journalist Cathy Newman, as well as award-winning songwriters, playwrights and other prominent figures in the music industry, have signed an open letter in support of the Young RWCMD programme at Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

Under current proposals by the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (RWCMD), it is set to cease its weekly Young RWCMD sessions from the end of this academic year, affecting over 300 students, six members of salaried staff and a further 112 on variable hours.

Other big name signatories include Michael Fitzhardinge Berkeley, Joanna Clare MacGregor CBE, Mark Wigglesworth, Charlotte Page, Suhayla El-Bushra, Richard Baker, Steven Isserlis CBE, Murray McLachlan and Maimuna Enya Memon.

“Over 300 students affected”

The open letter reads: “We, the undersigned, are extremely concerned by Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama (RWCMD) proposals to close Young RWCMD.

“This would bring an end to its weekly Junior Conservatoire and Young Actors Studio sessions from the end of this academic year. It is the only provision of its kind in Wales. Over 300 current students will be affected.

“Parents have been informed that RWCMD expects the changes to affect the academic year starting in September. This does not leave enough time to search for alternative models and/or funding sources to be found, or meaningful consultation with the 118 staff affected. And what are current and prospective students supposed to do?

“As signatories to this letter, we believe in:

  • Access to high level music education provision and opportunity for all
  • Celebrating artistic tradition
  • Creating opportunities for and supporting new and diverse voices
  • Bringing Welsh culture to a global stage.

“We call on RWCMD to:

  1. Continue Young RWCMD for the next year academic year while alternative models and/or funding sources can be found
  2. Engage in meaningful collective consultation on proposals to close Young RWCMD with staff affected as part of this process and their representative bodies, including the Musicians’ Union.”


Naomi Pohl, General Secretary of the Musicians’ Union, which is also calling for the protection of the Young RWCMD programme, said: “We are devastated by these proposals and are now engaging with RWCMD and supporting members who are affected, after the College took the disappointing and frustrating decision to exclude us from the initial consultation meetings.

“If this closure goes ahead then RWCMD will be the only conservatoire in Britain without a junior department, with no other equivalent provision in Wales at a time when progress is being made on rebuilding music education through the National Music Service Wales.

“We are also concerned about the effect of this closure combined with other issues, such as the cuts at Welsh National Opera and the closure of St David’s Hall, on our members’ work and careers and the broader health of music in Wales. We will continue to support members affected by this consultation and explore alternatives to closure.”

Organised by Musicians’ Union members, over 10,000 people have signed the petition calling for Young RWCMD to be protected, which will now be considered for a debate in the Senedd.

The Union is calling on RWCMD to extend the timeline for consultation and involve all the representative bodies, including the MU, to ensure the future of the Junior RWCMD department.

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Jonathan Edwards
Jonathan Edwards
22 days ago

Hmmm. “RWCMD will be the only conservatoire in Britain without a junior department…at a time when…rebuilding music education through the National Music Service Wales.” I hope the Senedd looks at

  • is the NMSW bidding for the funding at present going to the College?
  • is the problem that such a policy is not in place ie not joined up?

I hope we are not looking at a battle of the bureaucrats over funding and status. But then this is Wales. What Labour has been doing to the arts in Wales needs checking. Ask Jac o’th North…

Rebecca Totterdell
Rebecca Totterdell
21 days ago

The junior department of RWCMD receives no government funding, unlike its counterparts in England and Scotland.

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