Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Purfleet Backstage Centre to run master-class series with funding from Andrew Lloyd Webber

THE National Skills Academy’s new Backstage Centre will host its first technical theatre master-class series with a £75,000 grant from the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation.

The Backstage Centre in Purfleet which opened in October is a state-of-the-art technical training facility housed alongside the Royal Opera House’s production workshop. The master-class series will be offered to technical theatre students and trainees who will have the chance to work with some of the world’s leading theatre technicians in the new large-scale industry-standard venue. Full details will be announced at www.thebackstagecentre.com once the programme has been confirmed.

The grant was one of a number totalling £380,000 which was recently awarded by the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation in support of arts education across the UK. The Foundation believes that in order to retain vibrancy in the arts, it is imperative for young artists of all backgrounds and abilities to be nurtured and encouraged.

Further news from The Backstage Centre includes the appointment of Gary Sparkes as the new Technical Consultant. Gary has worked in opera and theatre stage management since 1987, working for renowned companies including Glyndebourne, English Touring Opera and Scottish Opera, and has toured extensively in the UK and overseas. Notable projects include a Ring Cycle at the Edinburgh Festival and tours to Vienna, Lisbon and Porto. In 2000 Gary became Head of Technical Management at Scottish Opera and joined the National Theatre in 2004 as Head of Stages Operations and Head of Technical from 2010. Sparkes will support Robin Auld, Operations Director of The Backstage Centre, working with the National Skills Academy for Creative & Cultural to provide relevant skills, training and education for those working in stage production.

Sparkes says: “I am thrilled to be taking on this role. The opportunities and facilities offered by The Backstage Centre are unprecedented, for those already working in production and for those wanting to learn the trade. Its role in strengthening the UK’s reputation for live theatre and musical events promises to be huge.”

Pauline Tambling, Joint CEO, Creative & Cultural Skills and Managing Director, National Skills Academy for Creative & Cultural adds: “We are immensely grateful to the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation for this award. It will help us to deliver the type of programmes the facility was designed for and is a major vote of confidence from the industry in the work we are doing.”

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