Yes, math and science are important. But the communication and the soft skills a theatre education experience grows are valuable too. And they’re never been more important - whether you’re talking about a student’s future or an artist’s career success. So, how do you boost your drama program enrollment to find fresh talent? How do you make building up your program and building up your students happen simultaneously? Here are three places to start.
Start Recruiting Earlier
Growing a drama program takes serious work. Beyond all of the theatre tech and behind-the-scenes logistics, a successful program starts with the most basic element: people. More specifically, young, passionate, and motivated people.
If you’re not reaching out to middle school students, your drama program enrollment probably isn’t going up anytime soon. So, find any excuse you can to include these kids in your production. Junior shows, theatre student shadowing, and backstage tours are all easy ways to get prospective students excited early.
Meaning that - by the time they’re able to enroll - they’ve not only decided to do so but have shared their positive experience with everybody they know. Plus, if they see the cool, older theatre students participating, they’re much more likely to join themselves.
Another effective strategy to boost your enrollment rate is to build cross-curricular ties with the English department. Finding opportunities to introduce theatre into their curriculum exposes students who may not have been interested in drama to the fun and creativity this artform delivers. Making them more likely to enroll - or, at the very least, pay attention to your program and spread the word about its success.
Build a Community, Not a Drama Program
At the end of the day, everyone wants to feel included. Like they’re a part of something special - something bigger than themselves. So, approach your program with this in mind. After all, it’s much easier to grow your enrollment and overall following if you’re not working alone. And by building a theatre community instead of some one-off program, you empower students to help each other grow and develop through their work together in class and on your productions.
It all comes down to building familiarity and trust. Everyone knows theatre is fun - it’s your job to emphasize how the community you’ve built can have a practical outcome just like STEM course alternatives. Especially if parents are involved in the decision-making process.
So, take advantage of testimonials from well-respected students that used what they’ve learned in theatre to land a dream job or do well in college. The biggest challenge preventing your program’s enrollment growth is the belief that art isn’t an important part of education. If you can change this mindset in prospective students, growing your program gets much easier.
If you have strong school administrator support for your drama program, pushing for outside-the-classroom options could be a fun way to get new students interested. Summer classes and productions, for example, give anyone new to theatre an immersive experience because they’re not distracted by homework or a test in another subject.
Also, you should consider splitting your performance and technical students into different classes more tailored to each group’s interests. Plus, it gives you a springboard to add after-school groups and events because these groups are working more closely together more often. Creating more opportunities for everyone involved - and a drama program that nobody can say no to joining.
By considering these three things, you can boost your drama program enrollment. But why stop there? Learn how you can run your theatre department like a boss by downloading our School Theatre Post-Mortem Demystified guide today!