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Future of the A.C.T. MFA

December 22, 2021

A.C.T.’s MFA Program is the last freestanding graduate acting training program in the country not affiliated with a university. For more than a decade the organization has had discussions about balancing the financial feasibility of the Program while also providing students with the highest caliber of training, professional performing opportunities and support such as scholarships, mental health services, and more.

We have determined that in order to thrive, the program must be in partnership with a university as is modelled throughout our field. At this point in time we do not have a partnership in place that would enable us to continue the Program, so it will end with the Class of 2022. We remain deeply invested in delivering the highest-level of training to the final class, and there remains the opportunity to support them through the Melissa Yandell Smith Legacy Fund.

While the graduate training program is coming to an end, A.C.T. remains steadfastly committed to transformative learning by maintaining its Conservatory, which continues to offer a robust array of theater-based classes and training programs including: Studio A.C.T., the Young Conservatory, Summer Training Congress, San Francisco Semester, and Institutional Professional Development. These programs help participants discover their inner artistry, while also training the artists who will shape the cultural landscape of our society. Our Education and Community Programs remain in effect, as well, bringing theater and arts education curricula to schools and community-based organizations across the Bay Area.

The degrees issued by A.C.T. remain very highly valued among our industry, and our focus is to ensure we retain the strength of the A.C.T. identity. A.C.T. will continue to serve the hundreds of students that have gone through the MFA Program. Alumni can come to A.C.T. to obtain transcripts, degree confirmation, as well as financial aid records indefinitely. We are committed to considering alumni for all A.C.T. programs, from casting to teaching, and will organize initiatives to keep the MFA alumni cohorts connected to each other, including promoting the most recent graduates, maintaining a quarterly newsletter, and holding bi-annual alumni events.

Sadly, we are not the first theater to experience this change, and we honor the rich history of this Program that has brought so much to A.C.T. and to the field of acting. We are also enormously grateful to the many teachers, students, artists, actors, donors, patrons, MFA board members, trustee hosts, community members, and administrators who made it possible over these many years. We especially thank the current and recent MFA faculty and staff for their resiliency and dedication during this remarkably challenging time. The legacy and spirit of the Program will forever be a part of the tapestry of A.C.T.

We will celebrate the A.C.T. MFA Program as we wrap up this season and academic year. We are planning an event in tandem with the Graduation of the Class of 2022 on Monday, May 23, and welcome all alumni and MFA stakeholders to join us – details will be forthcoming in the new year. We will honor those who have been an important part of the Program at that time.