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LS Live up there sharing an address with LiteStructures is the major rehearsal space and training venue north of Watford. They have been building courses from Safety Passport and NRC training by industry professionals for a while now. The ethos is to provide what academic education cannot and that is real world, hands on, vocational training and experience.


For years and years the PSA was getting complaint after complaint from industry that the graduates simply did not have the skills required and various schemes have been launched, like the WigWam degree in sound apprenticeship and universities like Bucks and Derby have been doing well approaching it from the academic end while Backstage Academy and the National Skills Academy, The Backstage Centre approached it from the other end. Skills first and foremost, qualifications on top.


Since Backstage Academy is predominantly concert/touring based and Backstage Centre based out of the RoH and Tony Hall's tenure there I guess we could generalise regarding the relevant sectors. I am fairly surprised that anyone is unaware of either though they are relatively new and both are developing to suit the needs of young people and the industry sectors as they grow to maturity. For many (like me) this is the future, drama school is the past.


If kids want to tour at the highest level where better to study than where the very top bands design, build and rehearse those tours? Adrian, Ben or Robin will probably be along to fill out their details (and correct me!) but for theatre bods maybe Backstage Centre would be worth a look.

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The only slight concern I have is that it's a bit like the history of APRS's David Ward - we had the well thought of Gateway training, Phoenix, the James Network - it does seem that what has happened is that the experts are best at setting accreditation schemes to set practical quality standards, rather than trying to actually teach. People used to get their practical skills as 'real' work and their academic qualification somewhere else. History seems to suggest that the combination of the two is VERY difficult to blend. Trying to bend the academic rigidity to fit real work tasks doesn't seem to work that well. I remember David Ward and Matthew Griffith from PLASA being very passionate about the need for people in the industry to be able to gain proper qualifications - but they were very frustrated by the unbendable system that needed them to incorporate things they didn't feel were relevant, plus the necessity to work to strict budgets and rules to get public funding.


The courses at Backstage are new, and some don't start till next year - so before people spend their student loans, Backstage need to promote themselves a bit. Sounds quite exciting, but apart from the keynote names who probably are not full-time permanent staff, the only one we can use as a standard is Ken! So that's a good start.


I hope they respond and tell us a bit more. I just worry that the success rate of these kinds of programmes is a very variable. Googling for the ones I remember from ten years ago reveals very few of those still running! ....... and some were excellent training providers.

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I'm not sure the Backstage Centre are doing themselves any favours when the web page on training states:-


"Text about the training we offer young people. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Donec pulvinar turpis sit amet bibendum convallis. Donec quis sollicitudin tortor. Mauris accumsan vel mi eu consectetur. Class aptent taciti sociosqu ad litora torquent per conubia nostra, per inceptos himenaeos. Nullam suscipit eget lorem et ultricies. Praesent condimentum nisi id metus venenatis pellentesque. Sed pulvinar, turpis vitae aliquam cursus, ligula dolor euismod sem, et feugiat leo eros rhoncus nibh. Fusce et urna ut est mattis mollis eu eget mi."






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Hello there,


My name is Jack and I currently study the FdA in Live Events Production at Backstage Academy. I'll bring this thread to the attention of the staff who I'm sure will be over soon to answer any questions you may have. In the mean time if there's anything you want to know just ask.





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Backstage Academy have posted some adverts for their new courses - does anyone know anything about them? Obviously some of these courses haven't started yet - but I've had a couple of questions fired at me, and I don't know anything about them.


Maybe they'll read this and explain a bit more?


Hey Paul,


I was one of the first year students who graduated from the FdA at Backstage Academy. The course is aimed at persons of any age (typically college leaving) and offers training to work in the live events industry.

What appealed me to the course was it's industry ties, working closely with LS LIVE (formerly LiteStructures) and it's affiliates, Brilliant Stages, Prolyte Group and Perry Scenic to name a few.

The tie which also makes the course a University of Bolton recognised foundation degree is also very appealing, due to it's recognised FdA status.


The real true points to why I think the course has changed my life follow below..


I was just finishing up my electrical engineering apprenticeship with a stage lighting company back home in Norfolk.

I love engineering but my love for live events was much greater so I wanted to get into it somehow.

Theatre courses weren't for me, they didn't offer the same 'fun' I was looking for in the touring environment.


I came across the website from knowing people at a well known drape company in Norfolk, it was then I rang Backstage Academy to see what it was all about.

Instead of trying to sell it to me on the phone I was invited for a chat/interview and a tour of the facilities at Backstage Academy.

After getting blown away by everything and doing well at interview I was given a place subject to UCAS and a Bolton University phone interview.


What followed was and still is the best experience to date, I was doing things my friends were jealous of (they had chosen a typical university course).


The course offers 12 modules over a 16 month period in which included everything from 'how to work in the industry' to 'putting a stage up and rigging some tech'.

Due to the location of the academy we were extremely lucky to be able to setup house stages and work with the LS staff on jobs and to get the studio ready for clients.

This could be anything from building a house stage to rigging lights with HSL.

If you take a look at the website it will tell you everything which is covered in the course!


We also had great work experience opportunities as most of our lecturers/tutors worked with some of the main companies in the industry.

Mine included live event power with a generator company as well as a placement within LS LIVE itself.

An offering of what some past students have got up to during work experience can be found here - Graduates Land Roles at Glastonbury


After this great experience I was offered a place at LS Live working in the CAD department as a designer and have done so for the last 8 months.

This role is more than I could have ever imagined to get out of the course, I truly believe no other course could have done this for me (no I am not getting asked or paid to write this!).


Now I have some great opportunities ahead of me and as of September I will be enrolled on the BA Top up, which will further this knowledge and experience. (This runs alongside full time work).


To anyone who has read this as a prospective student check out the website or PM me if you want to know more about the course, I will be glad to chat.


Thanks for reading and I hope this helps with your question Paul.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi all


Thanks for your interest in the Backstage Academy - I'm the Director of Courses at Backstage, and together with Adrian Brooks (of Litestructures fame) we started the Backstage Academy 4 years ago. The aim is simple - to equip students with the necessary skills, attitude, expectations and motivation to gain employment in our hugely diverse and global industry - we know the jobs are there, and we also know that over a million 16 - 24 year olds are unemployed - a shameful fact that I still have difficulty comprehending. We do indeed focus on those sectors not currently widely catered for in education - from Live Music to Conference, Exhibition, Theme Parks, Cruise Ships and of course theatre..


We are not about re-inventing the wheel - if a short course exists already (such as the Event Safety Passport) we include it in the training. Likewise we engage a range of industry experts and manufacturers to deliver seminars, workshops and masterclasses to our students - these experts are the ones who have the up to date knowledge of practices and technologies. We support them by dealing with all the assessments, marking, feedback and pastoral care with a team of 6 full time staff.


We have been very lucky to have a unique course structure validated - a blend of academic and industry study, together with a range of practical opportunities both on-site and around the country. With our industry partners we are able to offer a range of work placement and paid opportunities that are invaluable in creating a real world portfolio of experience for our students. It's vital that these initiatives are sustainable, hence seeking validation in order that our students qualify for a student loan to cover fees and contribute to their living expenses.


As both Jack & Harry have said, please do feel free to ask us any questions, and we are more than happy for people to visit us for a chat and a cup of Yorkshire tea...


Best wishes



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