Following article appeared in The Newcastle Journal:
It’s a multi-million-pound performing-arts project aiming to release the potential of the region’s cultural up-and-comers, many of whom have dreams of superstardom. So who better to declare Newcastle College’s £21m Performance Academy officially open for business than rock superstar – and Wallsend boy – Sting, tomorrow. The celebrations will take on true showbiz style, when a 30ft red carpet is rolled out, flanked by two giant Oscar statuettes and guests begin arriving by limousine. They will be escorted into the academy’s 200-seater theatre for a performance by dance students, former music students and the RSC in a scene from Romeo and Juliet. The first of its kind in the country, the academy has three performance venues, 10 recording studios and a TV studio with pre- and post-production facilities, a radio station and acting, music, dance, recording and media production facilities seen nowhere else in the UK. Sting said: “It’s exciting to be returning to the North-East and to open the Performance Academy on behalf of Newcastle College.” College principal Jackie Fisher said: “We are delighted to have Sting officially open the Academy for us. Culture and the arts have never been higher on the regional agenda and The Performance Academy will help to further build our capacity to nurture, develop and retain creative people in the North. “It marks a significant investment for the college to create an academy which will enhance our reputation for excellence and attract even more students from outside the region.” The college has more than 1,000 students studying music, acting, dance, media, technical production and venue and entertainment management and has already produced a number of famous names, including Michelle Heaton, of chart-topping band Liberty X, and directors, producers, technicians, designers and actors. Relationships with North-East organisations and agencies such as Northern Stage, Dance City and the Actors Centre are already producing fruitful possibilities and there’s more to come, according to academy director Vee Wilkinson. She said: “With this world-class facility the potential is enormous. The academy is already becoming a creative hub for the North-East, providing a synergy between all elements of the performing arts under the one roof. … It’s hard to stop smiling at the moment.” More than 1,000 students are already benefiting from what Newcastle College’s Performance Academy has to offer. Danny King, 24, from Leeds, is studying musical theatre. He said: “I was absolutely amazed the first time I walked into the Performance Academy. “I knew it was going to be good, but I didn’t expect it to be so fantastic. From the building itself to the experience of the tutors to the sheer space we have available to perform, it is unlike anything I have ever experienced.” Amy Birdsall, 16, of Gateshead, is studying advanced acting. She said: “There is such a buzz about the Performance Academy. “I love the fact that students from different courses can interact with one another. I love how modern the building is and the fact that everything within it is of industry standard. It’s such a great training ground and the opportunities are endless.” Acting student Samantha Dawson, 16, of Sunderland said: “The facilities are second to none and I love the fact that all our tutors are professionals themselves. “I will stay on to do a degree – in fact, four years isn’t long enough at the academy. I don’t even want holidays any more; college is much more fun.”

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