Top drama academy splits over cash crisis

Echo: Top drama academy splits over cash crisis Top drama academy splits over cash crisis

A PERFORMING arts school soon to celebrate its sixtieth anniversary is facing upheaval after hitting financial problems.

Ridley Studios, in Hamlet Court Road, Westcliff, has closed its premises and split into two, with the acting and dance schools going their separate ways.

The full-time performing arts college for 16 to 18-year-olds, which opened in 1955, is using space at the Morgan Academy Performing Arts, now in Fillebrook Avenue, Leigh.

It is being run by eight teachers under Joe Elliott, 28, who has returned after stepping down as principle of Ridley Studios in August, when he got a job offer he “could not refuse”.

Meanwhile, Aisha Hodges, the acting principal of Ridley Studios following Mr Elliot’s resignation, is using church halls in Westcliff to run a part-time dance school, Absolute Arts.

Despite hitting hard times, Mr Elliott remains positive about the school, whose past pupils include Ricky Champ from BBC3 comedy series Him&Her.

He said: “No one has missed any classes, there has been no break from studies. The students are auditioning for degrees at top universities and we are still accredited with examining body Edexcel, who have been to see where we are and are happy.

“I never formally resigned and am back running the college.

“Because there is a recession, we could no longer afford the rent.

But we hope to move into a new arts centre with the Morgan Academy, in London Road, Leigh, in September. Itwas just easier for us to split when we moved.”

The Ridley Studios is now facing legal action over unpaid rent and its website has been suspended after the school went into arrears with web host company Signright, in West Road, Westcliff.

Absolute Arts, run by Mrs Hodges and husband Harry, 25, both directors of Ridley Studios, now has its own new website saying it is using St Bernard’s School and Crowstone Church for classes, while Ridley Studios has a new Twitter account.

The Echo contacted Absolute Arts and Mr and Mrs Hodges responded by e-mail to say Absolute Arts was not connected to Ridley Studios.

Asif Raja, 42, director of Sports House, the landlord of the Hamlet Court Road premises, said: “There were rent arrears and this is now with our solicitor.”

Comments (4)

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9:47am Wed 8 Jan 14

Broadwaywatch says...

The Ridley Studios as quoted in this article was indeed first created and opened in 1955. This was by Miss Peggy Batchelor and established in the Leigh Road which has just recently been converted back to a private dwelling.
For many, many years it was an establishment of excellence and its students a force to be reckoned with in Local music and drama festival.
Pupils also found places in London shows and those further afield.
As well as the work at the studios Peggy and her staff also ran the Ridley Theatre Workshop on a Friday night at Chalkwell Schools which produced experimental work as well as sell out shows once or twice a year at the Palace Theatre and later at the Cliffs Pavilion.
Its past students became teachers as heads of Drama at many local schools and some also became renown adjudicators here and abroad.
The theatre and entertainment industry is still well dotted with ex-pupils from the glory days Ridley Studios as actors and directors in their own right.
Peggy with goodness knows how many professional letters after her name sold the studios some years ago but is still quite active at 98, and has only just given up professional performing herself, is most saddened to hear of the plight of her beloved brain child and the name Ridley. So called after a friend and tutor some sixty years ago at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
There you go Evening Echo if you want a full and exciting story about Ridley Studios and its important part in the history of this Town I suggest you contact the source Miss Peggy Batchelor. She has many a tale to tell about herself and of the Studios past and proud achievements.
I am convinced that you and your readers would not be disappointed
The Ridley Studios as quoted in this article was indeed first created and opened in 1955. This was by Miss Peggy Batchelor and established in the Leigh Road which has just recently been converted back to a private dwelling. For many, many years it was an establishment of excellence and its students a force to be reckoned with in Local music and drama festival. Pupils also found places in London shows and those further afield. As well as the work at the studios Peggy and her staff also ran the Ridley Theatre Workshop on a Friday night at Chalkwell Schools which produced experimental work as well as sell out shows once or twice a year at the Palace Theatre and later at the Cliffs Pavilion. Its past students became teachers as heads of Drama at many local schools and some also became renown adjudicators here and abroad. The theatre and entertainment industry is still well dotted with ex-pupils from the glory days Ridley Studios as actors and directors in their own right. Peggy with goodness knows how many professional letters after her name sold the studios some years ago but is still quite active at 98, and has only just given up professional performing herself, is most saddened to hear of the plight of her beloved brain child and the name Ridley. So called after a friend and tutor some sixty years ago at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. There you go Evening Echo if you want a full and exciting story about Ridley Studios and its important part in the history of this Town I suggest you contact the source Miss Peggy Batchelor. She has many a tale to tell about herself and of the Studios past and proud achievements. I am convinced that you and your readers would not be disappointed Broadwaywatch
  • Score: 1

1:06pm Wed 8 Jan 14

DogsMessInLeigh says...

all sounds complicated.
all sounds complicated. DogsMessInLeigh
  • Score: 0

7:11pm Wed 8 Jan 14

Broadwaywatch says...

DogsMessInLeigh wrote:
all sounds complicated.
Not so........quite simple really.
[quote][p][bold]DogsMessInLeigh[/bold] wrote: all sounds complicated.[/p][/quote]Not so........quite simple really. Broadwaywatch
  • Score: 0

6:29pm Fri 10 Jan 14

ruby47 says...

I felt sad after hearing that Ridley Studios is closed now. My nephew Ashley studied there for an year and 6 months back he has moved to http://www.theacting
corps.com/. When he got to hear about it he felt really bad.
In my opinion the studio would not have been divided if they would tried staying together.
I felt sad after hearing that Ridley Studios is closed now. My nephew Ashley studied there for an year and 6 months back he has moved to http://www.theacting corps.com/. When he got to hear about it he felt really bad. In my opinion the studio would not have been divided if they would tried staying together. ruby47
  • Score: 0

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