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17 March 2010

Green light from Prime Minister for National Skills Academy

The Prime Minister today (17 March 2010) gave his full support for the build of the £13 million National Skills Academy for Creative & Cultural Skills in Thurrock. This state-of-the-art building, set within the Royal Opera House Production Park, will deliver industry-led training for the creative sector, addressing an anticipated need for 30,000 skilled backstage and technical theatre staff by 2017. It will also provide technical accreditation and professional development for the existing workforce.

This announcement confirms the finance required from the Homes and Communities Agency to start work on the building. This investment compliments the £5 million already committed by the Learning and Skills Council. Work will commence on the building in November 2010, ready for a 2012 opening.

The Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, said:

‘Today's announcement is positive news for the UK economy. The National Skills Academy is in line with many of the government's objectives on skills, training, Apprenticeships and regeneration. It will help to support young people in the creative industries, and is of international importance for a live performance sector that generates over £6 billion per year for the UK economy.

‘The National Skills Academy will position the UK as a global leader in cultural skills and training, plug the creative and cultural skills gap and deliver what employers and young people need to boast skills, access and jobs in the vital creative industries sector.

‘It will help to support the recovery, and will also contribute to the development of a cultural legacy from the London 2012 Olympic Games, helping to raise aspirations for young people throughout the UK.’

Pauline Tambling, Managing Director, National Skills Academy for Creative & Cultural Skills (NSA) said:

‘I am delighted with this news which is the highlight of our first year of operation for the NSA. Along with the support of our 20 Founder Colleges and industry members, this building has brought us even closer to realising our vision of an internationally acclaimed technical theatre and live music sector supporting the best stages in the world.’

Paul Latham, Chair of the NSA and Chief Operating Officer for International Music at Live Nation said:

‘I am delighted that the Prime Minister recognises the valuable work that the National Skills Academy for Creative & Cultural Skills is doing, and the importance of it to the sector’s skills needs.  The centre for excellence at Thurrock will be an invaluable resource.’

Will McKee, Chairman, Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation, said:

‘We are absolutely delighted that the capital funding necessary to secure the development of the NSA is now in place and that the partners to the project can now focus on delivery.

'The Development Corporation has worked to provide strategic leadership in partnership with other organisations to get this significant project off the ground.  The Park will be a catalyst for growth of the creative industries in the area and will not only put Thurrock on the cultural map but also raise the aspirations of the local community by providing job opportunities, training and education.

'It will be a creative hub, not only of local and regional significance, but will also be of national and international importance.’

Caroline Felton, Chief Executive, Creative & Cultural Skills, said:

‘Creative & Cultural Skills’ research identified three years ago the need for the National Skills Academy and to see this ambition come to life is a key milestone for the creative and cultural industries as a whole. Our recent research has shown that the UK has the largest cultural economy in the world as a proportion of GDP.  The National Skills Academy will help ensure that we stay that way.  The creative industries are growth industries and must be supported.’

Tony Hall, Chief Executive of the Royal Opera House, said:

‘You need to go to Purfleet to fully understand the scale and ambition of this exciting project. I am thrilled that we can forge ahead with the National Skills Academy building now that funding is secured. The NSA will join the Bob and Tamar Manoukian Production Workshops to create a national centre for production and technical aspects of the theatre and music industries. These great new buildings, plus the other facilities on this site, will bring in new energy to the area and provide jobs and training opportunities for local people. As a local person said on BBC Breakfast (BBC1 5.3.10), ‘no wonder the local community is so behind this project, the Royal Opera House is putting Thurrock on the map.’

Andrea Stark, Executive Director, Arts Council England, East, said:

‘I am delighted to hear that the capital funding necessary to secure the development of the National Skills Academy in Thurrock is now in place.The facility will play a central role in the future success of the wider Royal Opera House Production Park and literally change the cultural landscape for this part of the country. The facility itself will set a new gold standard for training in technical and production skills for the performing arts and live music industries.’

Caroline Neville, Regional Director of the Learning and Skills Council in the East of England said:

‘This region has vibrant creative and cultural industries and this fantastic facility will provide the world class skills the sector needs. By bringing together young people, employers and training providers we can ensure the right training and people are in place to support and develop the sector for the future. The LSC is delighted to be contributing to the cost of the capital build.’

Leader of Thurrock Council, Cllr Garry Hague, said:

‘Having this nationally significant Royal Opera House Production Park and National Skills Academy in Thurrock is a tremendous coup for our borough and a major boost to the local economy.  We made a strong case to government for this investment to come here, and securing the funding now is the final piece in the jigsaw. It will place Thurrock on the map as an international centre for the performing arts and the skills and expertise required to produce major productions.  The Council is working hard to improve the education, skills and aspirations of local people and with funding for the new academy secured, many of our residents will have the opportunity to benefit from improved skills and qualifications opening the door to fantastic new job and career opportunities.’