Performing arts academy predicts threefold revenue rise

An Edinburgh-based performing arts school is eying a threefold revenue rise and a major expansion after requests for its services have soared.

The MGA Academy of Performing Arts founders Andrew Gowland (left) and Murray Grant. Picture: Mike Wilkinson.
The MGA Academy of Performing Arts founders Andrew Gowland (left) and Murray Grant. Picture: Mike Wilkinson.

Applications doubled at The MGA Academy of Performing Arts last year, reaching 1,800 for 90 places, after it became the first institution in Scotland to receive a full accreditation from the Council for Dance, Drama and Musical Theatre.

The academy, which employs 12 full-time staff and 45 contractors, expects revenues to nearly treble by 2023, from £1.3 million to £3.6m.

It is also actively looking to expand its footprint, aiming to boost its current 15,000 square foot of studio and office space to 35,000sq ft.

Co-founder Drew Gowland said the academy places a particular focus on the practical aspects of working as a performer, including regularly bringing in agents, union representatives, accountants and lawyers to share their insights.

He said: “We make sure it is part of our on-going development. You can be the best performer in the world, but if you do not know how to write to an agent and sell yourself, then you will never get a job, and no one will ever see that talent.”

Gowland, originally from Leeds, and his partner Murray Grant, from Edinburgh, secured an £85,000 loan in 2010 to establish their operation in a former Wheatsheaf pub in Balgreen, later adding two further venues as the academy grew.

Recent graduates include West End performers Rhiannon Chesterman and Rebecca Stenhouse, as well as Disney film star Thomas Doherty, who will appear in the upcoming HBO/Sky mini series Catherine The Great, alongside Helen Mirren.