The Royal Conservatory has seen huge growth in a time when many cultural institutions have been struggling. A year old alliance with Carnegie Hall has led to the expansion of an online education program and an arts-based education program, tailored for at-risk kids.
“”We think the brand name is very powerful, and we believe we have the best system,” says Peter Simon, the Conservatory’s president. Simon, a Hungarian-born Canadian, took over the Conservatory in 1991, and has since tripled its budget to $36.8-million (70 per cent of which is earned revenue). He sees the Con’s traditional franchising model – whereby certified freelance teachers use materials standardized at head office – as a template for exporting its methods to other countries, new media and very different teaching situations.
In the past year, he says, 70 music schools and more than 3,000 teachers in the U.S. have signed up for the Carnegie Hall Royal Conservatory Achievement Program, which will deliver the same kind of syllabus and graded testing used by 500,000 Canadians annually. The federal government, under former Con student Stephen Harper, put up $7.5-million to get the Carnegie partnership started.”