New report explores performing arts graduates’ careers and success


The Careers Research & Advisory Centre (CRAC) in collaboration with the Institute of Student Employers (ISE)  has today published a new research report following a study of graduates from the leading performing arts schools within the Conservatoire for Dance and Drama titled ‘It helps to have more strings to your bow’: Exploring the careers and success of graduates of the Conservatoire for Dance and Drama’.

Through a survey with alumni, in some cases reaching back 30 years, it reveals a wide range of career trajectories and that many of these graduates have complex working patterns. Almost 90% maintain a connection to the artform they studied (through paid or unpaid activity) and 4 out of 5 feel they have built a good career since they graduated (and the same proportion that their course contributed positively to this) – most are, in many respects, highly satisfied with their careers.

The new, holistic model of graduate success presented explores thematic areas such as artistic engagement, wellbeing and making a difference, as well as earnings. Over 80% of graduates have shared knowledge of their subject with other people or communities and over three quarters feel they made a positive contribution to their local community.

“This report is a much needed and more meaningful assessment of graduates’ success, and a great way for aspiring performing artists, educators and evaluators to ascertain the ultimate fulfilment or otherwise of those working within the sector” said David Ruebain, Chief Executive of the Conservatoire for Dance and Drama, which commissioned the study.

“For many years potential performing arts students have only been able to evaluate their prospects against typical rigid HE datasets that fail to take a nuanced or holistic approach to success measurements beyond being a salaried employee. Now all that has changed”.

Robin Mellors-Bourne, Research Director at CRAC and leader of this study quoted: “The project presented Tristram Hooley (ISE) and I the opportunity to devise and try out a wholly new method for assessing graduate career satisfaction, which is far wider than earnings. Our report shines a light on the many and varied career and work patterns of these graduates and how most interweave them with an ongoing passion and commitment to their artform.”

The impact of Covid-19 on the performing arts sector makes this research particularly relevant in considering how graduates might be supported as they enter a fast-evolving employment market. The report’s findings will be directly relevant to those with an interest in creative and performing arts education, but the new approach to considering graduate success and course outcomes could be very interesting for other groups, particularly where earnings are not a good measure of career progress or a meaningful one in terms of what graduates value.

To download the report

Exploring the careers and success of graduates of Conservatoire for Dance and Drama report

New report explores performing arts graduates’ careers and success