Acclaimed theatre designer Becs Andrews joins a group of University of Leeds artists and performers on a mission to create new work, inspire and bring a range of arts into the community.
Becs joins the Academy of Cultural Fellows, which will nurture the talents of the brightest and best new writers, artists, actors, dancers and musicians.
Her two-year appointment has been made possible by generous funding from the Future Fund of Opera North and will afford her the time and freedom to develop her own skills, as well as collaborating with the opera company and working on community theatre projects.
Since graduating in Fine Art from the Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art at Oxford University, Becs has gained a reputation as one of the rising stars of stage design, working on a range of projects both in the UK and overseas. Past commissions include the multimedia set for Momo by the Ballet Berne, the spectacular touring children's opera At the Rim of the World, and productions with the Royal Opera House and theatres across Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
She is excited by the prospect of working with Opera North and with colleagues from across the University and the local arts community to design bold new work. "I want to create things that are more unusual," she says. "I have got millions of ideas and would like to see what happens with them. The opportunity offered by these collaborations is fantastic.
"I've worked as a jobbing theatre designer for years, and I usually get called into a project that has already been set up. This is the opportunity to work on a production from the start and create something new, exciting and vibrant."
Becs' appointment as the first DARE Cultural Fellowship in Operatic Scenography is the latest product of the fruitful partnership between the University and Opera North and follows that of composer Cheryl Frances-Hoad, who holds a similar post in operatic composition.
"I'm looking forward to absorbing the culture of both organisations and working on projects at the Grand Theatre, in the Howard Assembly Rooms and at the University," says Becs. Through Opera North's education department and the University's local links, she will also take her work out into the Yorkshire community, working with schools, youth groups and regional arts organisations.
"There is a general consensus that opera does need to engage and stay relevant and accessible and extend what it does.
"I am very aware that this is a completely amazing opportunity and it should really develop my career. Opportunities like this are not just rare, they are practically non-existent."
For further information and a full biography of Becs Andrews, click here: http://www.becsandrews.com/
Notes to editors:
- The 2008 Research Assessment Exercise showed the University of Leeds to be the UK's eighth biggest research powerhouse. The University is one of the largest higher education institutions in the UK and a member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities. The University's vision is to secure a place among the world's top 50 by 2015. http://www.leeds.ac.uk/
- The Faculty of Performance, Visual Arts and Communications (PVAC)consists of four schools; Design, Fine Art, Music and Performance and Cultural Industries, as well as the Institute of Communications Studies. Subject areas include those from the creative arts and humanities, social sciences and science and technology.
- Opera North is England's national opera company in the north and is committed to producing high-quality, exciting and entertaining work by actively challenging preconceptions of opera, breathing new life into the classics, advocating lesser-known works and championing musical theatre. Over the last three decades Opera North has established itself as one of the leading arts organisations in the country and one of the most imaginative opera companies in Europe. http://www.operanorth.co.uk/
- The Future Fund of Opera North is a charitable trust, launched in 2008, with the focus of protecting and sustaining Opera North's activities and building a foundation to protect and enhance its work. The work the Company can deliver under the trust is primarily 'more than opera', including valuable education work, outreach work and the nurturing of young singers. The Future Fund has an independent Board of Trustees from Opera North and is chaired by Dr Keith Howard.
- The Dare collaboration between the University of Leeds and Opera North is combining the excellence of both organisations to inspire artists, students and practitioners, stimulate audiences - and spark bold new work. The four-year partnership aims to enhance the creative and intellectual life of Leeds with a range of projects which would be beyond the reach of either party alone - and the impact of which will be felt regionally, nationally and internationally. http://www.dareyou.org.uk/