Harvard University’s ART Institute, the university’s graduate-level theater program within the American Repertory Theater, has announced a three-year admissions suspension while administrators implement a strategic plan to stabilize the troubled program.
In recent years, ART has seen increased visibility under the eye of Tony Award-winning artistic director, Diane Paulus, producing beloved Broadway outings such as Pippin, Finding Neverland, Waitress, and The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess. Despite these successes, however, the Institute recently received poor ratings from the US Department of Education due exorbitant student loan debt that has plagued many of its students.
This spring, the school was notably missing from The Hollywood Reporter’s annual list of the 25 best drama programs in the United States. In June, the institute suffered another loss as the institute’s director of over 20 years, Scott Zigler, announced his departure.
For the better part of 2017, ART administrators have worked to resolve the Institute’s problems to no avail. The decision to suspend the program for three-years is an important step in building an effective solution to save the institute long- term.
“What we’re looking at is taking a three-year hiatus so we can come back stronger, better, and with better funding,” said Zigler, “We found a couple of possibilities where we could have stayed open, but staying open just to stay open didn’t look like the best thing to do.”
The announcement was made in an e-mail from Paulus and an ART producer, Diane Borger, on Friday evening.
“It was very important to me to include in that letter a commitment to the future of the Institute,” Borger told the Boston Globe. “We consider it an essential part of the future of the ART, and we’re committed to it.”
The ART’s e-mail announced that the administration would be entering a “strategic planning period,” and that ART leadership would “work with Harvard to explore options for an MFA, establish a stronger…