Needy actor prints DIY manual

February 2, 1996

It took two half-marathons, hundreds of letters to charities, several car boot sales, a few cheese and wine parties, and many T-shirt and mug sales, to get Damian Gaskin to drama school.

The law graduate raised Pounds 18,000 to pay fees for his three-year acting course at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, and doubled that in sponsorship to cover his maintenance costs.

Now he has written a book, How to Raise Pounds 40,000 and Train at Drama School, which he is recommending to all students who are planning to train for the stage, but are unlikely to gain a discretionary grant from their local authority.

Mr Gaskin, pictured left, who completes his course in July, sends a newsletter every term to his 180 sponsors to keep them up to date with his progress.

"What I have done has been very beneficial in many ways, but I would not advise anyone to take on the same task unless it was their only option. It doesn't seem right to me that people who come straight out of school or college should have to raise money for their fees in this way," he said.

Christopher Denys, principal of the Old Vic, said many students had to work all hours and their parents often remortgaged or sold their houses to support them, because there was no other help available to cover fees. But while he would like some central funding ring-fenced to help drama students, he is opposed to central funding of schools.

"Some schools I know of which are now funded by the funding council have had big clawbacks and been forced to increase their class sizes. We also value the vocational nature of our course and we do not want to be forced to introduce academic elements into it," he said.

How to Raise Pounds 40,000 and Train at Drama School is available from Damian Gaskin, Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, 2 Downside Road, Bristol BS8 2XF, price Pounds 6.

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