Skip to main content Skip to site map (in footer)

Turf turned on new home for National Skills Academy at award-winning site

  • Date: 2 June 2011
  • Area: National, South East
group of men, women and children in high visibility jackets

Partners and students turn the turf at new Thurrock home for the National Skills Academy for Creative and Cultural. Credit: James Fletcher/National Skills Academy for Creative and Cultural

Work has officially started on building a backstage training centre which will be the new flagship home for the National Skills Academy for Creative & Cultural (NSA).

Based at the Arts Council funded £60 million High House Production Park in Purfleet, Essex, the new state-of-the art building will become a national beacon of excellence for skills in the creative and cultural sector.

The launch of work on this new building is also a chance to celebrate the NSA's recent success in becoming an Arts Council England National portfolio organisation.

Andrea Stark, Area Executive Director, Arts Council England, was on hand at the launch ceremony to assist in turning the turf. She said: 'From April 2012, the NSA will be joining 694 other organisations as part of the Arts Council's National portfolio, and we are proud that they will be housed at the High House Production Park in Thurrock.

'We are delighted to welcome them as a new organisation - one that reflects how the arts sector is changing and offers a fresh approach to delivering great art for everyone. The NSA will play a vital role in developing skills and entry routes into the arts workforce across the country, helping us to achieve our mission of Great art for everyone.'

Due to open in May 2012, the new centre will focus on providing the skills required to support the performing arts and live music sectors. The building will sit alongside the Royal Opera House's Bob and Tamar Manoukian Production Workshop, which opened in December 2010. Other parts of the park, including a cafe and play park, have also opened to the public.

The training centre will provide unique facilities for 11,000 16-19 year olds and professionals seeking recognised qualifications in backstage technical skills. It will also provide technical accreditation and professional development for members of the existing workforce.

The NSA forecasts a skills gap of 30,000 people to work backstage across the creative industries over the next decade. This purpose-built 'practice theatre' training centre will go some way to addressing this need with a professional, large-scale fly tower offering a world-class environment for lighting, sound and rigging training.

As well as creating additional employment and investment opportunities with strong community and education links, High House Production Park as a whole aims to become an internationally recognised hub for the creative industries, a catalyst for social, physical and economic regeneration in Thurrock, and a key driver for the regeneration of the Thames Gateway.

Also speaking at a turf turning ceremony for the new centre was Pauline Tambling, Managing Director at the NSA. She said:  '[This building] would not have been possible if it wasn't for the hard work and support of our partners, Creative & Cultural Skills, Skills Funding Agency, Homes & Communities Agency, Thurrock Thames Gateway Development Corporation, Thurrock Council, East of England Development Agency and Arts Council England. Today marks the start of the future of training for the backstage and offstage industries.'

To find out more about the National Skills Academy visit the website.

For more information on High House Production Park go to

High House Production Park wins prestigious award

High House Production Park has been crowned 2011 RICS East of England Project of the Year, beating 22 projects from across the region.

The production facility also won the Regeneration Award, while High House Farm, part of the same site, was awarded the 2011 RICS East of England Building Conservation Award.

Lead judge for the East of England, Stephen Boniface FRICS said: 'It was difficult to single out the overall category winners for the East of England because each of the shortlisted projects had particularly strong qualities. However, we chose High House Production Park for Project of the Year because it was such a high calibre project on so many levels.'