New partnership to kickstart arts careers for Leeds students

Posted: February 9, 2024

Northern Ballet has joined forces with Leeds City College and University Centre Leeds to give production students a unique insight into the backstage industry.

Starting this year, Production Arts course learners will have the opportunity to spend time with the production departments at the ballet to support with everything from lighting and costumes to scenic painting, sound and set construction.

This collaboration, alongside an existing partnership with Leeds Heritage Theatre, is part of an effort to meet the demand for more northern-based students who have been trained across a range of backstage disciplines.

Paul Graham-Bell, Programme and Production Manager at University Centre Leeds believes the partnership will open doors for students in the region.

He said: “Leeds has a thriving performance sector, with opportunities for young people to explore backstage careers in theatre, dance, opera and TV.

“We want to take full advantage of the expertise and high-quality companies around us, to give students a well-rounded practical education.

“Working with Northern Ballet will allow our learners to be guided by industry professionals, gaining insights and advantages to help kickstart their careers.”

University Centre Leeds and Leeds City College, in partnership with Leeds Conservatoire, launched two Production Arts Foundation Degrees in September 2023.

Based at the Quarry Hill campus, the Production Department who hosts the course offers full-time education to over 60 students from GCSE right through to Foundation Degree level, with plans to include an offer of a Bachelor’s top-up. 

Unique in its offer, the course has been designed and shaped by its active industry partners, to ensure its curriculum reflects the reality of working in the production industry.

Steve Wilkins. Technical Director at Northern Ballet, said: “We’re really excited to be part of training the next generation of technical theatre staff. 

“Students will get the chance to visit and train with our world-class teams in Northern Ballet’s workshop, our wardrobe department and with technical staff at Leeds Grand Theatre.

“Generating home-grown talent in the North is so important, as is being able to give students the chance to see the real on-the-ground work which goes into creating touring productions. 

“Working in technical theatre roles is an incredibly rewarding career path, and to be able to share that, whilst ensuring the quality of training is of the highest standard, will be a fantastic experience for our staff as well as the students.”

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