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New performing arts course is a hit with students
8:00pm Monday 18th February 2013 in News
WITH three successful performing arts academies already under their belts, Jonny and Nikki Wilkes were never going to rest on their laurels for long.
The course will be held at the new Wilkes Academy studios, at the Renault building, which is also the new location for the Saturday morning classes for youngsters aged three and upwards.
“It’s always been my dream to have a performing arts college one day,” said Nikki, who grew up in Swindon.
“It was always my plan to run this course and I wanted to start it straight away.
“But Jonny sensibly suggested I learned to walk before running – so we started the academy with the younger children.
“We set up a five-year plan, which was when we would launch the over-16s course. And I’ve achieved it a year early as when the course starts in September we will have been running the academy for four years.”
The three-year BTEC course will cater for 40 students from September, 40 more the following year and another 40 the year after.
Auditions are being held to fill spaces: two have already taken place and another two are scheduled for the coming months.
Jonny said the amount of young talent in Swindon was phenomenal.
“I’m from Stoke-On-Trent and have been adopted by the people of Swindon which is lovely,” he said.
“I was shocked by the enormous amount of talented youngsters here – their appetite for performing is incredible.”
While the course is open to perfomers across the country, Jonny and Nikki are hoping that a lot of homegrown talent will take advantage of the opportunity on their doorstep.
“I wouldn’t be happy with my 16-year-old child moving to London to go to college,” said Nikki. “But with this academy they don’t have to. You can stay local and get training from some of the best teachers in the industry.”
The couple have called on their extensive contacts to ensure the teaching will be among the best on offer across the UK.
They have also secured some top names from the world of theatre, dance, music and entertainment to be patrons of the academy, including Robbie Williams, choreographer Arlene Philips, actress Louise Dearman, choreographer Paul Roberts and musical director Mike Dixon.
“They are the best at what they do in the industry,” said Jonny. “And it is a credit to Swindon that they want to be associated with an academy in the town.”
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