YORKSHIRE’s Backstage Academy is set to become the UK’s first live events university.

Specialising in live events education, degree courses run by Backstage Academy at Production Park in South Kirkby are currently validated by the University of Bolton.

Backstage Academy has already earned itself a world class reputation for training production managers, sound engineers, lighting designers, guitar technicians, riggers, carpenters and tour managers with students experiencing first hand life on the road during their studies and graduates getting jobs with leading world venues and acts.

Now the academy has embarked upon the two-year Taught Degree Awarding Powers (TDAP) process to enable them to award degrees in their own right. If approved, the university could be up and running by 2020, making it not only the first university for Wakefield, but the first for live events in the UK/world.

Backstage Academy MD, Glen Rowe, said: “The process takes a long time but things are going really well and, when complete, we will have the world’s first live events touring university.”

The new university will be dedicated to the live events industry with courses likely to range from a general overview of touring production to specific areas such as sound and lighting. Plans are currently being drawn up for new world-class facilities for the university which will be located at the heart of Production Park, where Backstage Academy currently is, alongside independent companies specialising in tour production, staging and set design.

“It will be great to have a university nestled among this in Wakefield and the prospect of people coming from all over the globe to learn really excites me,” said Glen.

“Wakefield is set to become the Pinewood Studios for the live events industry.  Some of the world’s most popular bands will be coming here to build their stages, tours and rehearse and our students will be part of that. We’re really proud.”

While study to degree level is already available in the district through Backstage Academy, the area does not have its own university – something Glen says is long overdue.

“I think it’s absolutely time there was a university here in Wakefield and one that looks at jobs and enables young people to know what’s out there,” explained Glen who is the tour director for Muse as well as managing tours for other artists such as The Kooks and Amy MacDonald. “There are so many transferable skills from our educational outlet that give people the opportunity to travel the world.”

Being a university will enable Backstage Academy to amend courses more easily to reflect a rapidly changing industry.

“The music industry changes so much and live events have become so technologically advanced. Students need to have their finger on the pulse. We are at the forefront of the industry and know how it is progressing,” commented Glen.

“The creative sector and live events specifically is also one of the fastest growing industries in the UK now contributing £91.8bn to the UK economy.  Importantly, the industry has increased its value by more than 50 per cent in the last five years, with no signs that growth is stagnating. 

“Being an independent university will enable us to make changes to reflect changes in the industry, making us more relevant and well informed so our students have the best employment options possible.”

The prospect of Wakefield’s first independent university offering people the chance to gain degrees locally has been welcomed by Coun Peter Box, leader of Wakefield Council.

He said: “I hope this new university for live events will inspire young people to aim high to achieve degree level qualifications. This supports our long-term goal to raise skills levels and aspirations across our district.”