Yeovil College Students Fightback to save Performing Arts and Music Department

Holcote House -threatened closure could have devastating community impact
Holcote House -threatened closure could have devastating community impact

Yeovil College students are fighting back against plans to shut down the entire Performing Arts and Music department. Holcote House has been a pivotal and integral part of the college and students believe their plans have been made in haste and that to completely remove such a well loved department is madness.Singer/songwriter and former student Sophie Hosken-Taylor, winner of the 2015 Wath Festival ‘young performers award‘ , explains why students are coming together to try to make the college try and reconsider.

“The music and performing arts department is an integral part of Yeovil College and its community. Over the years the department has brought a diverse variety of talent and entertainment to the public.

I myself am a former student and was awarded an FE Award by the college – there’s a reason I still care. Holcote meant absolutely everything to me and I wouldn’t be able to just sit back and watch it be taken down.

If I’d never had the support of the staff and fellow classmates at college, I highly doubt I’d be doing my music. I joined the college as an introverted little 16 year old. I didn’t even initially enrol as a music student because I wasn’t even aware the college had a music course, which I think speaks for itself.

I launched a page only on Wednesday night and it has already amassed over 2,200 likes with a reach (page views) of over 20,000, which proves alone people care.

The marketing (or lack thereof) that the college do for the Music & Performing Arts department is clearly failing. They can’t expect numbers to increase if they’re not willing to promote the courses!

Yeovil Music Scene threatened

Alumni college band "The Navigators" performing to promote the college
Alumni college band “The Navigators” performing to promote the college

The music scene in Yeovil is barely hanging on by a thread. We’ve lost so much already. Earlier this year we lost Acorn Music, which has been a part of the community for so many years. Not to mention losing The Orange Box which brought in many major touring artists and bands – and only last month or so it was announced Westlands Leisure Complex was closing!

The music department has been a crucial provider for the music scene whether it’s through nurturing budding musicians or hosting college showcases – it all contributes to the community.

The college has consistently failed to acknowledge or praise the Music department in particular – something I mentioned on the protest page earlier today when the college promoted their Awards Evening for their Sports, Travel & Tourism and Public Uniformed Services departments.

Since creating the page, I’ve had various messages from current students, parents and even teachers at other schools fearing for the future. Parents are telling me that their children have tried to enrol but the college is turning them away – and yet they claim they have no demand for the arts!

But even still, they’re sending generic replies to people’s complaints, which state, “If applications and enrolments for these courses significantly rise during this period, then we may be able to review the proposals”.

Devastating Loss for the Community

Singer/songwriter and former student Sophie Hosken-Taylor, winner of the 2015 Wath Festival ‘young performers award‘
Singer/songwriter and former student Sophie Hosken-Taylor, winner of the 2015 Wath Festival ‘young performers award‘

I can’t speak for the Performing Arts side of the department, as I wasn’t a part of it. However I do know that year after year they consistently exceeded themselves through productions within the college and even at The Octagon Theatre. They’ve had extraordinary success with their alumni who have gone on to be West End stars and even Tony Award nominees.

It would be an absolutely devastating loss for the community and the college itself, if it were to go ahead and scrap the department.

I feel the college merely expect current Music & Performing Arts students to swap to another college if they wish to continue their education in the Arts. The colleges across Somerset are spread out and are quite difficult to get to without transport. What if students’ parents cannot afford for them to have a buss pass? What if their parents can’t drive them into college? Some parents can’t afford a car or even drive.

There are so many questions that have been left unanswered.

I might be an ex-student but I had the time of my life studying in Holcote and I don’t think it’s right for future prospective students to miss out on having such a great experience.”

You can view the protest page here:

The petition is linked here:

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Andy Merryfield
8 years ago

It is these small battles that we must fight and win. The creative arts are fundamental in all aspects of our lives, essential for education, health and wellbeing; the key challenge to austerity.

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