A new artist on the University scene

Acclaimed theatre designer Becs Andrews is to join the Academy of Cultural Fellows, a group of the brightest and best artists and performers at Leeds.

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."

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