Thursday, 10 May 2012

Steps Forward in Cumbria.

Up to the north of England for my annual external marking duties at Cumbria University. It's always great to have an opportunity to see what colleagues in other institutions are doing and I've really valued the four years or so that I've been making the journey up to Carlisle.

The Drama department up there is, despite suffering from some of the same challenges as St Mary's, really flourishing. There's a buzz about the place and a renewed vibrancy. The two institutions have many things in common, especially in our desire to put creative theatre making at the heart of everything we do. Like us, Cumbria have appointed a theatre manager and this combined with a front foot strategy to using the curriculum to serve the production has generated a sense of involvement and belonging in the student body. The seem proud to both be getting their degree whilst being part of a bigger enterprise. It's a model that I think the best Drama departments will increasingly adopt over the next few years. A Drama School, within a University.

It was good to see that the management at Cumbria have taken a pragmatic approach to the success of the area and there is increased provision for design and build workshops. Of course there is never enough space, but there is a sense that recruitment and achievement is being rewarded with the opportunity for growth. As ever the technical and particularly the costume design aspects of the work were very impressive indeed. As long as the staff don't burn out or get side tracked responding to administrative demands I can see them going from strength to strength. I'm back up next month for my final board.

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