Have you ever compared something like an insurance quote and then chosen the cheapest one, got to the end and realised that something isn't included? Or the excess is twice as much?
Comparing different services can be a tricky thing to do, because organisations usually tell you one main perk to hook you in and then drip feed other information, costs and conditions. So when it comes to drama classes, what should you be looking out for to ensure you have the full picture?
Our Artistic Director, Rosie, is here to help!
Yes comparing is tricky, but ask questions and always consider what you would like your child to gain from joining a drama group, or any other club for that matter. Here are some questions to consider when you are looking at different groups:
How much is the class per hour?
Different groups display prices differently, but what you're actually paying can be more than you realise. For example, if I were to tell you our 'classes' are £18.50 a month, that may sound less than telling you it is £36 on average a half term. But it's exactly the same amount of money. As that monthly price is across all 12 months - but both work out at £6 an hour. So when you are looking at costs compare it per hour for an easier comparison.
Does that figure present value for money?
What does the group actually do in that time? What are they working on? Is that equal to your expectations or what you are trying to gain from the group for your child? For example an after school drama class may be an hour long, but perhaps the class is only 40 mins by the time people get settled. Or do the classes work towards a project, how often, or is it singular or themed skills session? Are the staff professionals in their fields? Or are they keen volunteers?
What extra costs are there?
That cost per hour, is that all there is to pay? Or are there show tickets to pay for, uniform, costumes, expected trips, what are the extras? Again this gives you a clear idea of how to compare multiple providers. Are the organisation up front about it and again does that present value for money?
At Light UP we charge a £30 membership fee, we get asked about this a lot. This includes a tshirt, access to discounts and most helpfully perhaps free social events throughout the entire time that student is with us. Some drama classes don't charge this, but they may charge for a tshirt and a ticket to a disco every Christmas and so on and so forth which soon adds up.
Take a look at ticket costs if applicable from previous productions to see how much they are. They can vary so widely. We've seen tickets around £20 per adult plus booking fees for some youth theatres, and again that may be entirely reasonable if the performance or project presents outstanding value for that amount but if you've had to provide the costume and pay for extra rehearsals, perhaps it doesn't.
What is the reputation like of the class?
Take a look on their social media and their website. Are there reviews actually from the general public? A great way to check this really is to look at their Facebook page and there you can see people's reviews. The ones that give details are the ones to look out for. I could easily write on a friends business page ' We love these classes!' but a well thought out message such as 'We've been going to x for 5 years etc and through the performance of x etc.' is a much clearer indicator of the reputation of the class, and ask around! Word of mouth is still our number 1 way how people find us, which we greatly appreciate.
Are their claims correct?
I will be honest. No one has looked at all the youth theatres in Hampshire and said yes Light UP is the most innovative and supportive youth theatre in Hampshire. But we have that written everywhere... now. I was hesitant to 'claim' this until this year when I felt we had substantial evidence to back up these claims and could clearly demonstrate that to anyone who asks. We were seeing SO many other drama classes and youth theatres make bold statements, usually with no evidence. I.e. we are the best youth theatre in the area! Says who? Don't always accept what you read, challenge the organisation on it and ask how?
A really fantastic example of this are awards. You may have seen organisations with them, the best children's activity provider of 2021, best drama class in 2020 - again says who? Many of these awards through sites like Club Hub and many more are awards were an organisation has paid to enter and then the voting is usually by a public poll (which can sometimes be a good indicator, but is more like a popularity contest) rather than an impartial judging by those in the know. We've really resisted entering these because of these reasons, but it is becoming increasingly obvious that people like seeing these sorts of awards. I have mixed feelings! Where as our award of 'outstanding drama initiative' from the Music and Drama awards was something we were nominated for, shortlisted and then a panel of expert judged the entries. Something i'm still proud of to this day!
Is it enjoyable?
No one wants to be doing something they don't enjoy. The chances are, if your child wants to go back every week and comes out with a smile on their face, they are in the right place.
Do you have anything you'd like to add from your explorations? Email firstname.lastname@example.org