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Creative and Cultural Skills conference at Thurrock

The Backstage Academy's monolithic exterior conceals a wealth of riches
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When I last visited High House Production Park in Thurrock, where Royal Opera House has its fabulous workshop, builders were just putting in the foundations of Creative and Cultural Skills’ new building.

It is now up and operating and I’m looking forward to attending the organisation’s annual national conference there on March 6 and 7, although I shall be there for only part of the event. The glittering new building known as The Backstage Centre (which I can see from my regular train into St Pancras from Kent next to the domed ROH building), is to be officially opened at the conference.

One of the highlights of the conference, whose theme is Power of Collaboration, will be the launch of a new ACE-funded £15m project to help 16 to 24 year olds into work in the creative industries. The Creative Employment programme aims to involve 6,500 young people and to set up apprenticeships and internships. That has got to be good news.

Also at the conference will be speeches by various key people and discussion about the future of apprenticeships, how to stop failing students, examples of imaginative ways of collaborating, and how to make the very best possible use of skills and training.

The conference is aimed at professionals working in the creative industries, most especially those with a particular interest in training and skills development.

Creative and Cultural Skills is part of the National Skills Academy and its remit has recently expanded to include the jewellery, design and cultural heritage industries alongside the performing arts in all its forms.

Hitherto, CCS has worked with 20 ‘Founder’ further education colleges to run projects and events such as the very successful ‘Creative Choices’ (formerly ‘Offstage Choices’) careers days for school students each autumn. Thirteen more colleges have now been added and there are plans to extend this network further so, among other things, we can expect to see many more Creative Choices days all over the country this autumn. More good news.

And if you need careers information about backstage jobs look at CCS’s Get into Theatre http://getintotheatre.org/ which is nicely presented and useful. CCS is planning to launch several other parallel websites such as Get into Music later this year.

See you at the conference in that lovely new building?

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