In higher education for the performing arts, we’ve seen growth in many directions. Some are exciting. For example, in 2019 (according to Data USA), 762 degrees were awarded in Musical Theatre, a growth of 13.6% from the previous year. On the other side, tuition prices are growing, too. Both in-state and out-of-state tuition grew between 2018 and 2019 (Data USA). The interest in pursuing arts careers is increasing, but the costs of higher education in the performing arts far outweigh the benefits. Currently, average student debt is between $36,150 to $54,921 per borrower, a valuable investment if it results in a high paying career. But, according to the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Actors' Equity contracts range from five hundred to seven hundred dollars per week, and the majority of those contracts go to white men and women, averaging $36,000 per year if they are lucky enough to book three twelve-week jobs each year. In Chicago, the majority of the more-than-two-hundred theatre companies are non-equity, meaning actors are more likely to see five hundred dollars (or less) for a single production. The return on performing arts degrees in college programs do not match the investment.
The Trade School at Downstage Arts is a lower cost alternative to traditional higher education.
7 hours, 5 days per week.
$100 a day.
30 weeks of training.
$15,000 per year.