The Academy founded by Stoke-on-Trent entertainer Jonathan Wilkes has launched a musical degree that has been backed by Staffordshire University.
It will start from September 2020 at its Swindon-based campus.
Demand for degree-level training in the performing arts industry has increased over the past few years; a trend reflected in the number of applications already made to Wilkes Academy to enrol on its new BA Hons in Musical Theatre from September.
Principal Jonny Wilkes is extremely excited and honoured to be approved to offer a Musical Theatre degree in partnership with Staffordshire University. He said: “When we at the Wilkes Academy first discussed offering a degree to our students, there was only one institution that I wanted to approach – Staffordshire University. To team up with one of the UK’s most exciting and highly regarded higher education providers is exciting in itself, but the fact that Staffs is based in my hometown of Stoke-on-Trent meant I knew it would be the perfect match.
“Staffordshire University’s vision is inspiring, and their team’s passion for delivering high-quality training to young people is rivalled only by our own. The guidance and support that we have already received from Staffordshire University has been fantastic, and to know they are with us on this incredible journey makes it all the more rewarding.
“To have the opportunity to provide world-class training in partnership with a trailblazing university like Staffordshire is amazing, and I am so excited to see what the future holds.”
Professor Liz Barnes CBE, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Staffordshire University, said: “Jonny, who is an Honorary Doctor of Staffordshire University, has been using his talents to entertain audiences for more than two decades. He’s more than earned his place as a household name across our region and beyond. Known as ‘The Creative County’, Staffordshire is a vibrant area filled with gifted individuals and Jonny’s ongoing success is testament to what can be achieved through determination and the right attitude.
“Jonny and his colleagues are ideally placed to deliver a Musical Theatre degree in partnership with Staffordshire University because they share our commitment to empowering students to achieve their full potential. We are delighted with the progress that has been made so far, and we cannot wait to support the Wilkes Academy team in passing on their extensive skills and expertise to future generations of performers.”
Wilkes Academy Education Manager, Sara Mills-White, has worked closely with Staffordshire University to develop the new Musical Theatre degree. She said: “To gain official approval for the next chapter in the Wilkes Academy story is fantastic. Staffordshire University has been incredible to work with. It is full of impressive people and resources that have helped prepare us for this venture, and we look forward to taking our partnership to the next level as delivery of the degree commences.
“Since we began to explore the possibility of launching a Musical Theatre degree, the demand has been significant. We’re in the process of recruiting our first full cohort for September, and our new students are ready and raring to go. We have also added to our already-exceptional teaching team, resources and facilities to ensure the degree is delivered to an excellent standard and students are given the training they need to achieve at the highest levels, both within the qualification but also afterwards when they enter the industry. After all the hard work it has taken to reach this stage, we just can’t wait to get started.”
The Wilkes Academy of Performing Arts, whose patrons include Ant McPartlin OBE, Declan Donnelly OBE and Arlene Phillips CBE, offers professional training designed to nurture the skills of students and prepare them for their future careers. Its talented teaching staff deliver courses from the academy’s state-of-the-art studio space in Swindon, as well as singing, dance and drama training for younger age groups in Stoke-on-Trent.
Students who enrol on the Musical Theatre degree will be given the opportunity to learn and hone a wide range of relevant skills, from acting, dance and vocals to production, industry investigation and portfolio promotion.