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Jazz hands: Flanders introduces master’s in musicals

The kids from Fame, 40 years ago, © MGM

The Flemish government has announced the approval of a planned new master’s degree in musical theatre, to begin in 2022 in the Brussels Conservatory, under the guidance of the Erasmus university college in Brussels.

After corona, a mass of people want to return to the musicals,” said Flemish education minister Ben Weyts (N-VA). “Now there will also be specialised training to prepare musical professionals.”

The Flemish education system also includes establishments in Brussels, since according to the constitution, education is a matter for the language communities rather than the geographical regions. The Flemish government, however, prefers to take the two domains as one, whereas the French-speaking community operates at arms-length from the Walloon region.

Flanders has a strong tradition of musical theatre, thanks not least to the input of Studio 100, the multimedia company behind Plopsaland theme parks and innumerable children’s TV shows like Samson & Gert.

Until now, however, the training has only gone up to bachelor’s level, with a higher degree only available to students who leave to study abroad, where a master’s in musical theatre, in general, lasts a total of five years.

The difference is not great for performers, but for teachers, the distinction is a major difference. Teachers with only a bachelor’s degree, for example, may not take classes in general subjects in art schools, only in their speciality, which makes them less attractive to employers.

The Erasmus college is the only school where the bachelor’s degree is currently available, so the two degrees will be able to slot together perfectly. From the next academic year starting in September, the school will offer a transition year for anyone thinking of passing on to the master’s course. Then in 2022, the master’s course itself will begin, leading to a master of arts degree (MA).

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times