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Local entrepreneur raises the curtain for local dance company with a generation donation

An atmospheric picture of the Flexus Dance Group at the Arena Theatre

The University of Wolverhampton’s Arena Theatre and partners Flexus Dance Collective are all set to raise the curtain on a generous donation from a local entrepreneur in the city - equipping young people with the skills to pursue careers in the creative industries. 

Owner of The Mount Country Manor Hotel & Golf in Wolverhampton and University Honorary Graduate, Roy Bernard, has donated £18,000 towards a pair of University projects, University of Wolverhampton Children’s University and Project Xpedition, an arts management/performance programme for young people which is run in partnership with Flexus Dance Collective, a long-term partner of the Arena Theatre. 

£8,000 of this donation will go towards Project Xpedition, which will help young people aged between 11 and 15 to achieve a Bronze Arts Award as well as allowing them to benefit from workshops and careers’ advice delivered by professionals working in the industry. This year’s group of twenty young people include four who are living in the care system and attending Virtual Schools, five who are Global Majority students and five white, working-class males – all groups that have low or non-existent Performing Arts and Higher Education engagement. 

Project Xpedition was set up to address skills gaps within the Creative Industries and focuses on enrichment, training and the support of young people to help develop them into established artists. 

Roy Bernard said: “I was very grateful to the University of Wolverhampton for making me an Honorary Doctor of Business Administration in 2019. I was born in Wolverhampton, went to school in Wolverhampton and I've built businesses in Wolverhampton. I believe in taking opportunities when and where you can, and a programme like Project Xpedition will give young people an opportunity to learn skills and crafts that can change their lives. I’m proud to be able to support their ambitions and help them take their own opportunities.” 

Neil Reading, Artistic Director at the Arena Theatre, said: “We are delighted with this donation to the Arena and Project X which will help us to continue to offer this vital programme for young people. Giving young people access to the arts at an early stage helps immeasurably in developing a well-rounded and highly skilled workforce for the Creative Industries. 

“This will help all young people to achieve a Level 1 Bronze Arts Award, a nationally recognised qualification that can be given as part of both Further and Higher Education applications. Previous students have demonstrated raised attainment in Performance Arts subjects through working with directors, choreographers and Creative Industries professionals throughout the project.” 

Katy Sterran, Artistic Director of Flexus Dance Collective, said: “Project Xpedition embraces the values and mission of Flexus Dance Collective and the Arena Theatre in our investment and commitment to young people. This generous donation will have a significant impact in the development of the programme and will provide additional support and experiences to young people, enriching Project Xpedition’s offer as we continue to give young practitioners the safe space to build their confidence, recognise their artistic voice and influence the Creative Arts scene locally and beyond.” 

Out of the last two group of students, four have gone on to study a Performing Arts/Technical course at colleges or Sixth Form and two are studying Performing Arts at the University of Chichester. One former student regularly volunteers for the Arena Theatre and has gained employment at Midland Production Solutions Technical Theatre company as a freelancer. Two have progressed to university to study Technical Theatre and Creative Writing, one has gained employment at the Wolverhampton Grand Theatre as Front of House and freelances as a theatre photographer and eleven are currently undertaking Performing Arts at GCSE level. 

To find out more about the Arena Theatre visit the website.   


For more information please contact the Corporate Communications Team.

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