‘Oh the drama – at Belfast’s New School of Performing Arts’

BSPA Patron Rachel Tucker with Artistic Director James Huish

Local singing sensation James Huish has teamed up with private equity group Loft Commercial Holdings LLP to secure funding to launch the new Belfast School of Performing Arts (BSPA).  The prestigious new school will be based at the home of the Belfast Operatic Company in their purpose built rehearsal facilities on Heron Road in the city and will focus on delivering fun based music, drama and dance classes for 6 to 18 years olds.

The teaching syllabus will focus on delivering structured training sessions every Saturday morning, developing key skills in the areas of dancing, acting and singing.  The school’s tutors and assistants will draw from a wealth of professional experience in their own specialist areas and, with the emphasis on ‘fun while we learn’, will help to develop solid foundations for anyone aspiring towards a career in the performing arts.  The school will run over three terms with students and tutors working towards a large live production of a popular hit show (details of which are still a closely guarded secret!).

Rachel Tucker, local girl and star of hit Andrew Lloyd Webber TV show ‘I’d do anything’, will be the schools inaugural patron. She is looking forward to running workshops with the students when her busy schedule allows her to make it back home to Belfast.  Rachel is currently based in London playing the lead role of ‘Elphaba’ in the West End’s award winning, critically acclaimed production of ‘Wicked’ (www.wickedthemusical.co.uk).  Based on the novel by Gregory Maguire that re-imagined the stories and characters created by L. Frank Baum in ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’, WICKED tells the incredible untold story of an unlikely but profound friendship between two girls who first meet as sorcery students.

Passionate about the arts and, in particular, musical theatre, Rachel is hugely excited about the new school, which will give budding local talent the opportunity to hone their skills from an early age alongside some of the Province’s most respected professional tutors.

She goes on to say, “Northern Ireland is a culturally rich and diverse place which has over the years generated a wealth of talented actors and actresses who have shone on the global stage.  We should be embracing this heritage and encouraging and engaging young people to get involved in the performing arts from an early age.  BSPA represents a huge opportunity to really raise the bar and I’m so excited to have the opportunity to be involved.  James and his fantastic team should be commended for taking the initiative to establish such a valuable asset to help develop our very own home grown talent for the future”.

Artistic Director, James says, “Initially we are limited to just 75 places for the first term which will start in January 2011 and interest has been overwhelming with 65% of the slots already snapped up by eager young actors and actresses. We are also hugely excited to announce the Rachel Tucker scholarship which provides for a limited number of assisted places for low income families each term”.

In addition to the in house Saturday morning classes the BSPA team will also be out and about holding performing arts workshops in local schools and colleges.  The workshops are specifically designed to support the learning outcomes of the new A level performing arts syllabus and will focus on both the performance and technical elements of a production.  Head teachers are encouraged to get in touch for further information.

Connor Dinsmore from Ballymena based private equity group Loft Commercial Holdings goes on to say “We are fully committed to our investment in BSPA – not only will the new school fulfill a real supply gap in the local market place but it also represents a huge opportunity to engage, educate, encourage and properly equip young people who may wish to pursue a career in the performing arts.  We are really excited about the potential to scale this business up and are looking forward to supporting James, Rachael and the rest of the team”.

Anyone who would like more information or to register their interest is encouraged to go to the school’s website www.thebspa.co.uk as places are quickly filling up.