The members of the Americas RADA Network (ARN) are graduates of RADA's full training programs or RADA staff. Most members tend to be American, Canadian or British living in North America. However, a minority lives in other continents of the Western Hemisphere, and some members reside in countries overseas including the United Kingdom. (Those that live abroad have a connection with the network because of work and/or family). Many graduates have gone on to work in other professions; therefore, the ARN is not exclusively for those graduates in the performing arts.
A Brief History of the ARN…
Throughout RADA's history there were attempts to establish a RADA network in America; however, the Americas RADA Network (ARN) began with Nicholas Clay, who since the mid-1980's, explored the possibility of setting up a branch of The RADA Associates in the US. He envisaged a network that would provide valuable support to graduates (both British and North American) in terms of advice and contacts in the profession. The longer aim was to develop an effective fundraising network for RADA. Nicholas Clay died of cancer in May 2000 at age 53. He graduated RADA under John Fernald and was a prominent player during Sir Laurence Olivier's golden Old Vic period in the 1970s. He was also a television star, and an actor who loved teaching. He spent time in the US and loved American actors and American theatre. He cared about the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and was a RADA Associate up until his death.
In 1999, RADA associate Tara Hugo, an American graduate in touch with many US alumni, began to work with Nicolas Clay. It was agreed there should be a network in America, similar to that of the RADA grads in the UK, and most established training institutions in the USA -- networks that inevitably lead to support, employment, collaborations, and a way to give back. An "old boy" network was needed, not least of all because there were many misconceptions about RADA and British training in general. Was there a way to strengthen the network from within so that it would generate interest and opportunities for the members? Alumni were contacted and asked whether a network would hold interest for graduates in North America (where the majority lived). There was an enthusiastic response and the goals of the Network began to take shape. The fund raising goals were put aside and the more immediate needs of recent graduates returning to North America became the focus.
From 2000 - 2004, with the help of the Associate Committee and RADA, communication with alumni continued and we sought to implement a website inclusive of all ARN members, not just the performing arts professionals. The Committee nominated North American graduates for Associate membership; including New York based Ron Bagden, and thanks to Ron -- Mary Monroe, who made our dream of a website come true. We held a first informal gathering at Joe Allen's in New York in 2002 and in 2003 we launched the ARN website. A year later, thanks to members, we located approximately one hundred more RADA graduates from as far back as the 1930's and compiled a guest list for our first major event -- “The American RADA Centenary Celebration” (in conjunction with RADA's London Centenary Celebration) which took place May 2004 in New York and was well attended by the ARN.
Also, in 2004, many Americans including alumni expressed a wish to support RADA tax effectively. It became vital to set up an organization similar to those models used by other British theatre institutions and their US supporters and with the help of ARN, the American Supporters of RADA (ASRADA) was formed to promote the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in the general American public, and to support RADA. The organization was granted 501(c)(3) status by the IRS and is able to offer tax deductions for most donations. A little over two years later, Sara Sugarman, RADA acting graduate and film writer/producer, secured the interest of the Annenberg Foundation who wished to contribute money to fund a writers' program at RADA. Because ASRADA was in place, they were able to make a contribution.
In 2005 - 2006, thanks to members' participation, new grads seemed to be getting a stronger foothold in the business due to more resources and contacts at their disposal. For example, attending the theatre, especially as a young actor, is vital but expensive: thanks to ticket exchange amongst ARN members and through our supporters, members attend Broadway and off Broadway dress rehearsals and receive comps or ticket discounts when available. That is one example, but we are grateful to all of you who have found ways to give back: help in securing an audition, help in preparation for an audition, an invitation to participate in a reading, an introduction to an agent or casting director, news of an affordable apartment/sublet, tips about a day job, or advice about changing careers which many of our members have done successfully -- the ways to give back are endless! We invite our members to keep reaching out and to stay connected.
2006 saw the change of the name of our organization. In order to be as fully inclusive as possible, we changed the name to: The Americas RADA Network, referring to North, Central and South America. The acronym remains "ARN."
Also in 2006, we launched the email Newsletter for ARN members. The monthly email newsletter created by Ron Bagden makes communication amongst the ARN easy and accessible - it includes announcements, up to date members' news and spotlights an ARN member each month. The 2010 newsletter is the continued preferred location of interaction between members. (If you are an ARN member, please make sure we have your current email addresses - and send your news, regardless if it's biz related or not to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
More changes: In the last few years, in its commitment to stay on the cutting edge of performing arts training, RADA itself has undergone many changes in an effort to rebuild and restructure. In 2006-2007, exciting initiatives began to take shape, including ways in which RADA reaches out globally to its supporters and alumni to stimulate and revive interest from around the world. This reaching out is fundamental in the never-ending fundraising required to keep the academy to standard, but it is also vital to the soul of RADA and what makes it unique. Check out http://www.rada.ac.uk/ to catch up on what's going on at the academy and to see the many new ways you can be directly involved with RADA. For alumni, there is the RADA Global Network, a program for all graduates including ARN members. The Global Network is free to join and offers a range of benefits including regular alumni events, a seasonal magazine, and ways for graduates to keep up with each other, including a seasonal newsletter.
Included in the RADA Global Network Autumn 2008 newsletter was the announcement about the launch of the new writers' program made possible by the contributions from the Annenberg Foundation received through ASRADA!
In 2009 there were other important contributions made through ASRADA, including those from ARN members. (Click this link to the YOUR SUPPORTpage on the ASRADA website). ARN members may be particularly interested in the ASRADA mission because of its potential to have a real impact on American students attending the academy. For example, ASRADA raised funds to create an American Student Bursary. This Bursary is currently funding tuition and living costs for American Students studying on RADA's full time accredited courses. In addition, the existence of ASRADA provides the opportunity to fundraise for any number of programs that may be of interest to ARN members and recent graduates returning to North America. For more information, check out ASRADA's website.
In summer of 2011, RADA strengthened its presence in the USA by taking up residence at The Vineyard Arts Project, Martha’s Vineyard. Some of our recent American graduates took part in a two week intensive workshop to develop theatre pieces. In order to fund the project, a fundraising event was held earlier in the year around the production of John Gabriel Borkman at BAM, which starred Alan Rickman, Vice-Chairman of RADA. The enterprise was co-organized by RADA and ASRADA and Francine LeFrak. Many American alumni attended and contributed to this project, as well as new supporters and friends of RADA.
In 2012 and into 2013 we continue to look for ways to strengthen our relationship with RADA and the graduates who return to the Americas, including more projects such as Martha’s Vineyard.
And our membership continues to grow…
Thank you all for your interest, participation and continued support of the Americas RADA Network!