Students secure summer work placements

Students on our Foundation Degree in Live Events Production have enjoyed a busy summer on a variety of work placements as part of their 'Industry Practice' module on the course

Students on our Foundation Degree in Live Events Production have enjoyed a busy summer on a variety of work placements as part of their ‘Industry Practice’ module on the course – one of two modules that allows them to put their practical skills and knowledge to the test.

Backstage Academy has been supporting the students to secure work placements with production teams in a number of backstage roles, from lighting operator, stagehand, sound engineer, stage manager, production assistant, artist liaison and technical crew.

The 52 students on the two-year, fast-track course (validated by The University of Bolton) had the whole of June, July and August to carry out the placements, when they contributed to production teams at live events such as Leeds Festival, Manchester International Festival, Glastonbury, Long Division, Latitude, The Great Gatsby, Global Gathering, Secret Garden Party, Towersey Festival, Hull Freedom Festival, Parklife, Crooked Ways, Tramlines, Lytham Proms, Raw Fest and Beatherder, working with production companies like BBC Radio One, ElectricFly Productions, Artist Needs, Cuffe & Taylor, The Music Consortium, Northern Ballet, Ethix Management, Ear To The Ground, DNG Productions, LS-Live, Brilliant Stages, Prolyte and Audile.

ElectricFly Productions and Artist Needs both had a group of Backstage Academy students working on their teams for Global Gathering festival. ElectricFly took on four students to assist with the production builds across the site and operate some of the lighting and video shows.

Said student Taylor Godfrey: “Global Gathering was great fun and working with ElectricFly is definitely the best thing I’ve been linked up to on this course. They are really nice guys and they gave me a lot of responsibility.

“I did everything from building a massive video cube with Martin video walls for the Radio One Extra stage and rigging the lights on the extra structures around the main stage, to operating the light and media for Benga and Flux Pavilion.

“I came on to the course wanting to do sound but having had hands-on experience with lighting equipment and using it in a real situation with 3,000 people, I now want to pursue a career in lighting.”

ElectricFly’s Creative Director Nick Jevons commented: “It’s a very busy environment on site without the time to teach them the basics, so it’s important that they have a certain level of knowledge beforehand. All the Backstage Academy students were great to work with and got stuck in straight away, particularly Taylor Godfrey who I would consider taking on again.

“I’m really keen on working with the students as they are the next generation of employees and nurturing new talent is the best way to grow ElectricFly as a business.”

Artist Needs had five students helping them and also employed Backstage Academy Sales and Business Development Manager Sara Gleadhall to work in artist liaison and accreditation.

The students had various roles under Artist Needs; Claudia Tenant worked on the BBC stage one night liaising with artists and the stage manager to ensure everything ran smoothly, whilst Beth Latham was positioned on the main stage to look after Plan B, Example and their production teams.

Said Artist Needs’ Kate Stevens: “We delivered a masterclass on ‘Dealing with Artists’ for the Foundation Degree students at Backstage Academy in 2012 and followed this up by taking some of them on to work in artist liaison and assistant stage managing at Global Gathering this year.

“We were extremely impressed with the level of professionalism that the students automatically adopted when dealing with some of the music industry’s biggest stars.

“They were not only capable of slotting into highly pressured roles at the festival, but they also had the right attitude, which made them reliable. We will be inviting them back to work on Wilderness, Beacons Festival and SW4 this summer.”

Ethix Management’s Paul Jones took on student Dan Bennett to do work experience on his audio team at a number of events in Grosvenor Square and Hyde Park over the summer, which resulted in him being employed as sound engineer and invited back for further work.

Said Dan Bennett: “I started off doing work experience with the sound crew at Hyde Park for the Big IF London rally and was very quickly trusted to use the equipment and join them for a work placement. The next day I was setting up the mics and doing changeovers for the show, then I was called back to help the sound engineer on some orchestral gigs in Grosvenor Square off Oxford Street.

“This resulted in me being paid and left in charge for two days to wire up, EQ and mix sound for string quartets, jazz bands, guitarists and solo singers. Ethix are great people to work for and their crew are always willing to help me. Paul Jones understands what I can and can’t do and takes time to push me in the areas I can’t do.”

Production company Cuffe & Taylor took on a few students to help with load out, load in and followspots at both Lytham Proms and Betley Court.

Many students also had work experience opportunities and paid work at on-site stage, set and studio rehearsals company LS-Live in Wakefield, where they helped with the load in, de-rig and pre-builds for the likes of Chase & Status and Starlight Express.

Two students who have just graduated from last year’s degree course are now employed full-time at LS-Live. Tom Richter is working in Project Support, dealing with custom stage rental projects, whilst Harry Heathfield is assisting Designer Gareth Mallon to transform clients’ ideas into realistic CAD designs.

Said Backstage Academy Sales and Business Development Manager, Sara Gleadhall: “We’ve been overwhelmed with the opportunities and support we’ve received from the industry.

“The standard that the students are setting, combined with the positive feedback we’ve received from companies, means we know we’re on track to achieve our aims of improving education for the sector and delivering work-ready graduates.”

Said Backstage Academy Director of Courses, Robin Watkinson: “Our philosophy is that students need real, hands-on practical experience which is why we encourage them to seize every opportunity that comes their way not just over the summer, but throughout the course.

“We were approached by crewing companies and production teams this summer who were keen to take on students on work placement roles and we are very happy that the industry is recognising our efforts to produce relevant and practical training to deliver future employees.”

To apply for the Foundation Degree Live Events Production this November, or any of the other degree and short courses offered by Backstage Academy, visit the Our Courses section of the website.

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