Since its formation in 2005, The MGA Academy of Performing Arts has developed into one of the UK’s leading lights in the fields of innovative student training and professional-level networking.
The MGA Academy Board
In 2005 Murray Grant and Andrew Gowland began running workshops in acting, singing, dance and musical theatre in Edinburgh and the surrounding area. By July 2010 they had fulfilled their vision of establishing a permanent base for performing arts training. The launched MGA (Murray Grant & Andrew Gowland) because they felt strongly that students in Scotland could not stay in Scotland and receive the training they needed to succeed, and recognised that the opportunities and relevant but expensive training offered in London was out of reach for many talented young people.
As founders of MGA, Andrew (Managing Director) and Murray (Creative Director) are supported by some of the most successful performers, creatives, business leaders and teachers in the UK and US. In 2012 Marcella Macdonald became Academic Director, and Academy Principal, marking an incredibly exciting phase in the development of the organisation.
Meet the Directors
Andrew Gowland is a professional Actor, Musical Theatre Performer and
Director, having trained at The Royal Academy of Music, London, The Birmingham School of Acting and the College of Visual and Performing Arts in the USA. He has maintained a career in Performing Arts for over the last 14 years since graduating in 2003.
As Managing Director and Producer for Beyond Broadway Productions Ltd, Andrew has, over the last 12 months, had the pleasure to work with Kerry Ellis, Adam Garcia, Christina Bianco, Ruthie Henshall, Natalie Weiss, Louise Dearman, Shoshana Bean, Scott Alan, Scott Morgan and Jonathan Reid Gealt and Jon Lee.
Finally, Drew is also a serving member of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces as a fully-qualified Royal Air Force Reservist.
Graduating in 2001 from Bird College, Murray Grant immediately won a contract to tour the USA with Columbia Artist Management Inc. and enjoyed several years dancing around the globe before undertaking contracts as a choreographer.
Murray has performed as a dancer all over the world and most notably Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Sydney and Vienna in musical theatre, opera & cabaret productions.
In addition to a lengthy performance career, Murray’s directorial and choreographic credits include: touring China and Europe with Musical Starlights, European tour of Best of Musicals, Twelve International Tenors tours of Europe and China, Moulin Rouge (German TV Production), The Phantom of the Opera and Carnaby Street Capers for P&O World Cruises, Macphersons Rant (World Premiere, Scotland), Union Square Opening Ceremony (Scotland), Bat Boy, The Producers, Flashdance and The Addams Family for MGA Productions.
Numerous choreography contracts and World Premieres followed prior to teaching contracts as well as producing credits for his own company MGA Productions based in Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh. Murray is also Guest Tutor for the Institute of the Arts, Barcelona and Creative Director and Founder of Beyond Broadway Productions.
Marcella trained at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama on the BA Music course and at the Royal Academy of Music, London on the post-graduate musical theatre course where she received the Ian Fleming Musical Theatre Award and the Musicians Benevolent Fund Award.
Theatre Works: A Little Night Music (Jack Lyons Theatre), Evita (Zouk Amphitheatre, Beirut), Richard Rogers Centenary Celebrations (with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall), Les Dialogues Des Carmelites (Edinburgh Festival Theatre), Manon (New Athenaeum). Marcella has also worked as a backing singer for Elton John, performing at Birmingham NEC, The Royal Albert Hall, The Royal Opera House and Wembley, and appearing on BBC 1. Other works include session singing and New Music Theatre Writers workshop.
As a musical director, Marcella’s professional credits include Ragtime (Edinburgh Fringe 2009) and Musical Starlights (World Wide Events). Marcella has been musical supervisor for Montage Theatre Arts, London, vocal coach for Forth Children’s Theatre and musical director for Edinburgh Council’s Musical Theatre Summer School.
Bath Spa University
MGA is thrilled to partner with Bath Spa University from 2018 to offer degree programmes through our Full-time School. Bath Spa University validates the BA (Hons) degree courses passed by students at MGA (subject to final approval) and this arrangement is reviewed on an ongoing basis to ensure academic standards are maintained.
Council for Dance Education and Training
The MGA Academy of Performing Arts is accredited by the CDET.
MGA is extremely proud to be Scotland’s first and only CDET-accredited Performing Arts school. CDET ensures the provision of high quality professional training through recognition and accreditation of full-time dance, drama and musical theatre schools and colleges, and has provided the industry benchmark of quality assurance for professional training in the UK since 1979.
MGA part-time school is a CDET-Recognised School, awarded the Council’s certificate of good professional practice. CDET schools are distinct from the large numbers of unregulated dance and drama schools operating throughout the country – they are committed to professional practice, safety and student wellbeing. The Recognised School mark demonstrates to students, parents, and guardians that they adhere to the standards demanded by the industry and standards designed to protect and safeguard young people whether dancing for leisure or with an eye to a career in the profession.
Scottish Qualifications Authority
The MGA Academy of Performing Arts is proud to be an SQA Approved Centre, as this recognises the Academy’s commitment to excellence in the training of young performing artists. MGA’s SQA-accredited HNC and HND courses not only guarantee students a practical performance-based training, but also a recognised academic qualification in their chosen field.
SQA is the national body in Scotland responsible for the development, accreditation, assessment and certification of qualifications other than degrees. Their overall aim is to manage the qualifications system below degree level to allow students to fulfil their potential to participate in the economy, society and communities of Scotland.
MGA is an approved centre for teacher training by ISTD – Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing – and our students now have the opportunity of gaining ISTD Teaching qualifications during their training.
Equity deems courses run by The MGA Academy of Performing Arts worthy of recognition and is therefore willing to accept applications for membership from its students.
Equity is the UK trade union for professional performers and creative practitioners. As a leading industry organisation, Equity is known and respected nationally and internationally for work with, and on behalf of, Equity members working across all areas of the entertainment industry.
Spotlight is the UK’s leading casting resource with ‘unrivalled knowledge and contacts at the heart of the industry.’ Over 60,000 performers appear in Spotlight and thousands of production companies, broadcasters, ad agencies and independent casting directors use Spotlight as their number one casting resource.
All MGA third-year students are required to become Spotlight members in preparation for their showcase at the end of the year. This gives them an insight into current casting, allows them to begin submitting themselves for appropriate jobs and sets them aside from other new graduates.
Student Awards Agency for Scotland
Full‑time Scottish nationals and some international students can apply for SAAS funding for MGA full-time three-year courses. Eligible students can receive approximately £1,205 funding from the Student Awards Agency for Scotland each year. Visit www.saas.gov.uk to apply or to find out if you are eligible. If you are successful, support is paid directly to MGA by SAAS and the amount will be subtracted from your course fee account.
Student Loans Company Scotland
Students who are eligible can apply for a student loan for maintenance and/or tuition fees for the MGA full-time three-year diploma courses.
Student Loans Company is a non-profit making, government-owned organisation set up in 1989 to provide loans and grants to students in universities and colleges in the UK. www.slc.co.uk
Industry links and relationships
We are thrilled to be able to offer our students a truly professional training experience. We have built close working relationships with several companies and organisations that span the range of the Performing Arts industry and our students are uniquely placed to reap the rewards: from management and casting agencies through to production companies and industry practitioners.
Current business links include: