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Bury St Edmunds: Flagship arts and entertainments initiative is launched at college

PUBLISHED: 14:01 12 July 2014

Gary Willis

Gary Willis

Archant

A brand new initiative, which bosses hope to establish as East Anglia’s renowned centre for entertainment and the arts, has been launched at West Suffolk College in Bury St Edmunds.

It has led to a partnership with the town’s Theatre Royal, with other venues and organisations in Suffolk waiting in the wings to get on board.

Conservatoire EAST (Entertainment Arts and Supporting Technologies) is headed up by director of performance Gary Willis.

He has visionary plans to transform the creative arts department at the college into a centre of excellence.

He said: “We will offer the full range of performance courses including the technical aspects of performance.”

The launch, held in the college’s Gateway building on Thursday, was attended by civic dignitaries, schools and partner organisations who were given details of a feast of creative performances from students and professionals.

It will include theatre, music, dance and film nights for the public and will offer students a real life experience of performing to a paying public.

Mr Willis said: “My ultimate vision is to create a performing arts centre for the east on par with the Brit School.

“I feel there is an enormous gap in the market for a place like this and young people in this area deserve to have a centre of excellence in the industry on their doorstep. They shouldn’t have to go to London to experience first class teaching.”

Fundamental to the success of Conservatoire EAST is building partnerships with the arts industry.

Mr Willis has formalised a partnership with the Theatre Royal and is in discussion with the Hunter Club, The Ideas Foundation, the John Peel Centre and The Apex.

In addition, he is working with the college’s director of hospitality, Mike Mulvihill, who is transforming the hospitality offering at the college and is set to re-launch the refurbished on-site training restaurant Edmunds, (formerly Zest), as well as redesigning courses and work placements on offer.

He said: “We are in the business of giving our students an excellent learning experience that prepares them for rewarding careers.

“I believe they deserve to be given exciting, dynamic and stimulating learning environments and opportunities.”

Police are at the scene of a two-vehicle collision in Ipswich involving a car and a van.

A motorist who consumed a cocktail of drugs before causing a crash on a Suffolk road which left a woman with “life-changing injuries” has been jailed for 28 months.

Essex County Council is calling for a fairer funding deal after a new report reveals residents receive 66% less funding than people in London.

An 18-year-old man was airlifted to hospital with serious injuries following a two-car crash in Colchester this morning.

Sunday’s inaugural Great East Run will see 3,000 runners tackling the half marathon course around Ipswich town centre, out to Freston and back.

Officials behind the Stars of Suffolk awards are urging people to make nominations for carer of the year.

Three six-year-old boys from Stonham Aspal Primary School have taken on a gruelling and muddy obstacle course to raise money for Blesma, the limbless veterans charity.

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