Music, drama and dance education is proven to nurture a child’s development. In fact, research has found that learning these creative subjects helps students excel in other subjects and can even increase a child’s IQ.

The performing arts, as a part of curricula and co-curricular learning programmes are essential for all students. Music, dance, drama and speech allow students to build their self-confidence. It’s less about vocational training and more about developing the soul.

Many schools offer the core curriculum as prescribed by the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA), while also delivering elective subjects through senior years for students who excel at music, drama or dance.

However, it’s important to embed the arts at the centre of a school’s culture so every student can engage, regardless of artistic ability. Engagement can come in many forms, from managing a production to making costumes or selling tickets. This provides a rich and inclusive learning environment for all. It is often said that the school musical is the most far reaching and largest event in the school calendar… and long may it be so!

Based on our experience designing creative education spaces, we’ve discovered a great deal of merit in reserving buildings for a specific purpose (for example dedicating a building to the arts). We’ve found this benefits timetabling, allowing specialist resources such as keyboards and drum kits to remain set up and available for each class group, or co-curricular group.

We’ve applied our years of learnings, and this particular approach to Auckland’s Diocesan School for Girls. The school recently completed their exciting new Music & Drama Centre, which is unsurprisingly located at the heart of their campus.








We wanted to celebrate the school’s award-winning music, drama and dance programmes by designing a new creative home for students.

The school’s Music & Drama departments were excelling in their standards of production and performance, but both were accommodated in facilities well below the Diocesan School standard, in adaptively reused buildings. While the classrooms were not hindering education outcomes at the time, the school identified the need to enable a high-level delivery of these important subjects well into the future.

Designing creative spaces is typically quite different to designing traditional classrooms. Arts buildings can require music practice rooms for soloists, ensembles, orchestras and choirs, or even sprung-floor performance studios for drama and dance troupes.

Most importantly, arts spaces need to create an atmosphere which allows students to perform without inhibition – to draw on their ability and express themselves through the arts. This is a vital part of supporting students to grow into confident adults.

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