Validation Squad

Marketing & PR


The Launch of Backstage Academy


Backstage Academy

Backstage Academy, based in Wakefield, is a highly successful centre of excellence for back stage training in the live events industry. Elsium’s David Kirtlan was engaged as the Director of Education in 2010, to take the vision of a training centre, offering degree programmes that bridged the gap between industry and education, and make it a reality.

In late 2009, on the very first visit to the site, now known as Production Park, David found a shell of a building that had the potential to be transformed into a centre of excellence, and a small, enthusiastic team with a vision of what they wanted to achieve: a training centre that would offer a student experience like nothing before. They had just one problem: how to make that vision a reality.

With his background in authoring degree programmes, his expertise in digital learning approaches, and his unique flair for unconventional thinking, David set to work. His outline for the foundation degree programme ensured that it met not only with the educational requirements for validation, but also with industry needs and skills requirements. Delivered across a linear year, the foundation degree allowed the student placements to take place over the summer months, which traditionally would not be considered, however David created a clear, concise argument for this, and created a two-year foundation degree that runs in a linear fashion. The linear approach also meant that external students could study individual modules, creating  qualifications within a qualification; enabling current industry specialists to gain qualifications relevant to their work. Ensuring QA throughout the process, David successfully led the degree through validation with Bolton University.

During the role of Director of Education, David strengthened the team, and was a leading force in the design and outlay of the building that would become Production Park. David worked with the marketing and PR team, and supported many events as part of the Backstage team; including judging the West Yorkshire Police Battle of the Bands event.

The very first cohort of students exceeded expectations, both in numbers and achievement. This then led to an even more successful second year cohort. Today the Backstage Academy enjoys huge success in student numbers and achievement levels; and has gone from strength to strength; expanding and growing on a solid foundation put in place by David. Backstage Academy was named in the 2017 Guardian University League Tables Top Ten for the live entertainments industry.

To find out more about the Backstage Academy visit

Radio Interviews

Radio Interviews

Battle of the Bands

BOTB Judges