New scholarships encourage budding actors

Emma Clark Gratton

The scholarship program targets secondary school students in three states, and is endeavouring to increase access and participation in the arts.
New scholarships encourage budding actors

Grades 7-10 students participate in a NIDA Open short course. Image supplied.

NIDA Open, the national drama school’s short course and workshop program, has officially launched 12 new scholarships for young people in Perth, Adelaide and Newcastle.

Utilising complimentary professional training, the scholarship program aims to make the arts accessible to students from all backgrounds, supporting developing actors and helping them realise hidden talents.

The lack of access to professional theatre training for young people from working class and under-privileged backgrounds is an on-going issue for the sector. In the UK, a 2016 peer-reviewed study found that the acting profession is 'heavily skewed towards the privileged'.


Simultaneously, working class stories are disappearing from our stages and screens, according to novelist Christos Tsiolkas. 'We don’t have that kind of dynamic writing or expression … the dramas of the Sixties and Seventies that were about working class life. I think you could go to a year of theatre in Melbourne and not really see a play that deals with that experience,’ he said.

Read: Class barriers locking kids out of culture

NIDA Open's new scholarship program will make 12 places open to students in grades 7–12; six for grade 7–10 students (grade 8–12 in Adelaide) and six for grades 11–12. The selected recipients will train with NIDA Open experts in their home cities: at Perth’s Subiaco Arts Centre, the Newcastle Grammar School, and Adelaide’s Christian Brothers College in late September/early October.

‘NIDA Open is committed to providing strong foundations for the development of young performing artists across Australia, so that they can go on to study with us at a higher education level or find their place in the industry, or employ their skills elsewhere in their day-to-day lives,’ said NIDA Director and CEO Kate Cherry.

'We want to inspire young artists to reach their full potential,' she added.  

Applications are open to students with a current interest in the performing arts, as well as those who want to explore new opportunities and get involved in the industry for the first time. Students have until 28 August this year to apply.

Potential applicants can visit, submit a personal statement about how they would benefit from this opportunity, and provide two short letters of support from community leaders, such as teachers, elders or local artists.

About the author

Emma Clark Gratton is an ArtsHub staff writer.