Funding graduate drama programs isn’t a new concept for arts funders, but that doesn’t mean it’s incredibly popular. While there is serious funding for audience outreach and engagement, scholarships for graduate students are hard to come by. Which is why a whole lot of people who come out of drama programs find themselves buried under student debt.
But what would happen if students were able to focus more on their craft, as opposed to working part-time jobs and fretting about their mounting debt? Well, that’s what the big check writers at the Shubert Foundation want to find out.
The foundation just established the Shubert Scholars Program, which will help eight leading colleges and universities increase the financial assistance they offer to students in graduate theater arts programs. The investment is part of the foundation's bigger strategy to put the theater arts on a better financial footing. Bolstering theater organizations is one way to do that; dealing with the pervasive economic security of the young people coming into this field is another way.
But why is Shubert doing this now? Well, as it turns out, investing in arts education and the top graduate drama programs isn’t all that new for the foundation. Since 2005, the foundation has allocated more than $2.5 million to New York Department of Education and, last year alone, spread more than $670,000 across eight graduate educational programs.
And besides, giving is what the Shubert Foundation does best. For the past 32 consecutive years the foundation has upped the tens of millions in non-restrictive dollars it has given to arts organizations and theaters across the country. That giving is at a record high level, as we reported the other day.
Now, thanks to Shubert, the Actors Studio Drama School at Pace University, the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, the California Institute of the Arts/School of Theatre, Carnegie Mellon University/School of Drama, Columbia University, the Juilliard School/Drama Division, New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and the Yale University School of Drama all have Shubert Scholarships to help students.
And they, as well as their parents, are probably pretty grateful.