Academy launches jobs drive as events industry leaves lockdown

The UK’s only university centre for live events production has launched a recruitment drive to fill more than a dozen roles as the industry emerges from lockdown.

Backstage Academy in South Kirkby, West Yorkshire, is hiring across more than a dozen roles. PHOTO: Production Park.

Backstage Academy, which is based at South Kirkby, between Wakefield and Doncaster, offers undergraduate and postgraduate degrees and is looking for lecturers in creative technologies and digital production; outreach officers; videographers and animators; an e-learning specialist; a head of professional training; production manager; and a studio and events co-ordinator.

The academy’s head of institution, Rachel Nicholson, is urging anyone with a passion for live events and equivalent transferable experience and education to apply.

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“As Backstage and the wider industry bounce back from the impact of the pandemic, there will be a huge amount of pent-up demand for live events,” she said.

“With the 2021/22 student year raring to go, it really is the perfect time for anyone hoping to pursue a career in live events.”

She told The Yorkshire Post that people leaving the live events industry during the coronavirus lockdowns had caused a skills deficit that the academy is hoping to address.

“We were the first industry to stop and we’ll effectively be the last industry to go back,” she said.

“At Production Park, we have several rehearsal studios, and we’ve had artists pencilled in for months. Now we’re starting to get confirmations and we’re solidly booked up into the new year, such is the demand for shows to get out there.

“We’re seeing lots of the companies that had laid off or furloughed staff now advertising jobs – we’re not the only ones doing that – so we’re really starting to see the sector come back. It’s just getting the people, and also – after the very public impact on the live events sector – giving people confidence in the viability of careers in it.”

Backstage Academy is based at Production Park, a 20-acre site which is also home to a growing community of live events businesses, as well as studios that have been used by the likes of Hugh Jackman and Coldplay.

The academy enrolled its first students in 2011 and its degrees are accredited by the University of Bolton, although it is currently in the process of applying for its own degree-awarding powers.

Ms Nicholson said: “Although Covid hit the sector hard, forging a career in live events will be an incredibly rewarding venture, as it enables applicants’ hobbies, passions and their careers to become intertwined.

“The campus really does offer these live event lovers a treasure trove of equipment and opportunities to get their hands on. We offer masterclasses for students through our use of cutting-edge equipment, software and technology, with students and staff working on real-life industry opportunities and experiences with world-leading companies day in, day out.”

The announcement follows the West Yorkshire organisation’s recent triple success at Educate North Awards, winning the Student Experience Award, the Employer Engagement Award and Entrepreneur of the Year Award for chairman and founder Adrian Brooks.

Ms Nicholson added: “We’re proud that our students get to experience working with industry experts, experiment with pioneering products, and gain dream opportunities before entering the sector and becoming live events professionals themselves.

“As a privately-funded organisation, we bridge the gap between industry and education, working closely with leading professionals to respond quickly to current skills shortages and write training programmes in line with specific demands.

“For industry professionals new or old, the roles currently on offer provide a unique chance to work at the heart of the live events sector; and present the opportunity to shape and influence the future of the industry and to inspire the next cohort of practitioners.”