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2012 Top-Rated Nonprofit

National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Arts & Culture, Arts Education, Performing Arts Schools, Theater

Mission: The founders of the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts realized the need in 1975 for a quality program in the Washington area, which would allow students to train for careers in the performing arts.  Prior to the establishment of the Conservatory students wishing to train as actors were compelled to move to either New York or California to attend Conservatories in those states.  The performing arts in the Washington area have enjoyed enormous growth over the past ten years, increasing the demand for professionally trained actors.  The National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts remains the only full-time, accredited acting program in the area.  Prospective students must demonstrate their readiness for training through a formal admissions process including both interview and audition.  Student Actors admitted to the Conservatory Program spend four consecutive semesters training twenty hours per week in voice, speech, acting, stage movement, stage combat, theatre history and rehearsal labs.  Students who have demonstrated professionalism and promise move on after the Conservatory Program to be members of Actor’s Repertory Theatre (ART) and spend an additional two semesters as members of the ensemble perfecting their craft in a professional company atmosphere, and appear in three full productions which are open to the public and invited members of the Washington theatre and performing arts community.

Results: We have graduated 700 students, and our actors are on stages and screens in LA, NY, DC, Chicago, and all over the country.

Target demographics: All ages and races who are looking to start a career or 2nd career as a professional actor.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 30 students

Programs: We offer two programs of study. A 4 semester Diploma in acting, and a 2 semester Advanced repertory company.

Community Stories

2 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters


Board Member

Rating: 4

I feel very fortunate to be a part of such a wonderful organization. NCDA is offering great programming for its students and has changed their program to reflect the changing needs of Actor Training.


Board Member

Rating: 5

I had attended a few low-cost performances at the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts but was not familiar with the school until my oldest son decided he wanted to become an actor. I was very hesitant at his decision to enter a field that I thought was risky and difficult. He auditioned and was accepted at NCDA and completed their regular program as well as their advanced program (ART). The support and guidance he received, along with the excellent education at the Conservatory, changed my views on his beloved profession. He is now an equity actor, and he could not have achieved this without the mission of NCDA. Arts are often at the bottom of the "needs" list for financial support, however, yet the arts also make our lives richer and more satisfying. A little school that turns out wonderfully trained actors is one that should not be ignored. Their products benefit us all! I became such a fan I ended up serving on their board of directors!