“My name is Colin Morgan, I was a student back in 2002 at (then) BIFHE on the Performing Arts Acting Course in Tower Street. I have now recently been contacted by many of my past colleagues informing me of the plans to cancel the performing arts course and I am completely appalled that this is the case.
At the age of 16, a boy from Armagh, BIFHE was one of the very few options I had of being able to pursue my passion and ambition to act. Without that course I would have been lost and forced to choose subjects in a local technical college that I had no interest in doing and things could have taken a very different turn for my future.
As it happens, BIFHE was there for me and offered me the opportunity to hone and develop my desire to act, study the craft that acting has the potential to be, learn from my peers and have the opportunity to perform in a safe environment, to gain a qualification and enabled me to then progress on the study at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and I have been working consistently in the profession now for nearly 8 years and I credit BIFHE as being a vital step in where I am now.
The impact of cancelling this course will have a detrimental effect to all those young people, like me, who are trying to make a future and a career out of performance. What message is being sent here by cancelling the course? To me it’s a clear message of dissimal to the talent that exists in our country, it’s a denial of development, it’s an ignorance to the possibility of aspiration in the business and it’s a failure to support a vital and thriving industry which Northern Ireland is now benefitting from.
It’s hard enough to try and make it as an actor from Northern Ireland as it is. I was forced to leave the country after studying at BIFHE because the opportunity to study at drama school wasn’t available at home. The knowledge that the opportunity to enable young people to even apply (and have the ability and confidence to apply) to drama school is now being cut off just seems ludicrous. Are we saying that it’s ok for major filming projects to come and film in Northern Ireland but our young people here aren’t worthy to be trained to be a part of it? What are our options? How can we prevent this from happening? And if our message and our voice isn’t being heard on this, then I think the message becomes even clearer: acting and performance is not being treated as a serious career option for people in Northern Ireland. And I, and many other Northern Irish actors working professionally today, are here to say that it is achievable but we need all the help we can get. I hope in some way that we can turn things around and not let this disappointing blow happen to the future of our country’s aspiring performers.
PS: Dan Gordon, the man who posted Colin’s message, is a Northern Irish actor, director, TV presenter and writer.