The Harvard Graduate Students Union-UAW is proud to endorse and support this campaign put forth by graduate students at Harvard/A.R.T.’s Institute for Advanced Theater Training.
The American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.’s) Institute for Advanced Theater Training is a crown jewel on Harvard’s campus. This small but fierce program of about 45 students consistently ranks in the Top 10 amongst the world’s graduate acting training programs and is housed at one of the preeminent regional theaters in the nation. The A.R.T.’s productions boast 17 Tony Award Wins as of 2017, and it is one of only four remaining major regional theater programs in the U.S. connected to a top-tier acting program (Yale and Brown/Trinity are the only two other Ivy League schools to share that title). The A.R.T. has been an integral part of the creation of the Theater, Dance, & Media concentration for Harvard undergraduates. Above all, The A.R.T. and the Institute uphold Harvard’s tradition of excellence, innovation and exploration in all fields. Harvard should live up to its values and further solidify its growing commitment to the arts.
However, though the training at the A.R.T. Institute is world-class, the resources available to the students, which contribute directly to their well-being and success, are vastly limited. In fact, the U.S. Department of Education’s determined in January that the Institute has failed to meet the standards of the Department’s Gainful Employment Rule. The ruling indicates that upon graduation, students from the Institute are too burdened by student loan debt to make a living in the field in which they have trained. The Department of Education has determined graduates of this program typically devote nearly half of their monthly income to repaying their student loan debt.
A.R.T Institute Student Financing
According the Hollywood Reporter’s annual report on the “Best Drama Schools for an M.F.A.”, A.R.T. ranked #14 of the Top 25 Best Drama Schools for an MFA in 2015; and #9 in 2016.
Top Ten Ranking, M.F.A. Programs 2016
2) Yale School of Drama
4) Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (London, England)
7) Old Globe at University of San Diego
8) Columbia University
9) American Repertory Theater at Harvard University
10) Bristol Old Vic (Bristol, UK)
While the academic excellence of A.R.T. competes strongly amongst the world’s greatest acting programs, the aid Harvard provides in comparison to its peer institutions does not, as illustrated by the graph below. We have also compiled more detailed information about funding available at these institutions.
Moreover, investing in the arts is not something reserved for universities with world-renowned endowments. A number of other universities have committed to funding their MFA Acting students significantly more than Harvard University. These schools each employ responsible financial aid models, many of which Harvard could consider modeling.
Our success is essential to Harvard’s academic excellence and worldwide acclaim. Since the A.R.T. Institute’s inception, Harvard has been reaping the benefits of this top-tier acting program and yet refuses to provide its students a professional leg up by creating a financial aid model equivalent to its top industry competitors. Moreover, while the theatre community regards the A.R.T. at Harvard training as comparable to that of an M.F.A. degree, despite the endorsement of its own Task Force on the Arts Report nine years ago, encouraging the university offer terminal M.F.A. degrees, Harvard has yet to modify the degree. Students’ futures not only as theatre artists, but also their as future teachers have been impacted over and over again by Harvard’s apparent lack of desire to properly invest in this program.
Our success is Harvard’s success, as our failure is Harvard’s failure. We cannot succeed without Harvard’s help. The federal government has deemed Harvard University remiss in regard to our program, and though we are small, we refuse to let that stand.
The Harvard community looks forward to a public response from the President’s Office announcing that the points on this list will be addressed urgently and concretely.
We ask for a commitment to provide the following:
- Full tuition scholarships and living stipends provided to all students of need, beginning with the Class of 2018 in the 2017-2018 school year, and beyond.
- A commitment to fully funding students of need for the class of 2020 and beyond, and onward a commitment to admitting students without regard to their ability to pay.
- Commitment to creating Master of Fine Arts programs at Harvard by the end of 2017. Our program is not the only M.L.A. program at Harvard that is comparable in curricula to an M.F.A., but not granted the terminal degree students deserve.
- Establish a long-term financial plan for support of the program in respect to classes of 2020 and beyond.