We live in a moment of great challenges and transformations, where exciting new possibilities arise. Provoking us to review and reformulate our practices and, consequently, the impact on the education of future generations. In view of contemporary practices and trends, we recognize the approximation between the different areas of creative productions and the need to bring them together through exploring relevant themes that intersect them.

22 & 23 September 2022

The inaugural Backstage Academy Symposium, in collaboration with XPLOR, will be held on our industry-integrated campus at Production Park. 

The Symposium aims to promote a broad dialogue to reflect on multidisciplinary and intersectional practices and education among academics, students, alumni and industry practitioners in the live events and creative industries such as visual arts and exhibitions, live performance, music, film and video, computer games, radio and TV, fashion, writing and publishing, heritage and cultural education. 

Focusing on three pillars related to our practice and education in creative production: EnvironmentAudience & Sustainability, the Symposium will explore and discuss the core areas of:

  • Liveness in the digital age and virtual production  
  • Empowered audience  
  • Sustainability in the XXI century for the creative sector


Ahead of two days of keynotes, panel discussions, presentations & workshops, we are pleased to announce the first set of speakers. 

Andreas Skourtis

Greek-born London-based practising architect and scenographer, founder and artistic director of Performing Architectures, and a Lecturer in Scenography at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Andreas studied architecture, drama, and holds an MA in Scenography from Wimbledon College of Arts, and often works as a Scenography Director leading performances or installations. Theatres, abandoned buildings, urban outdoors locations and landscapes, homes and flats, a bar and his olive grove, are spaces that were used in past projects. 

Projects include a walking performance using a bridge and a Victorian warehouse in London as scenographic metaphors, a staging of Antigone at the Ancient Epidaurus Festival, and the design of a New Performing Arts Centre in Uganda. Andreas designed the new studio theatre of Athens National Theatre, a transformable space that won a ‘Gold Medal for Best Work in Theatre Architecture and Performance Space’ at the Prague Quadrennial 2011. He has curated and designed exhibitions for PQ15 and PQ19, including the exhibition design of Staging Places: UK Design for Performance 2015-19 which was transferred to the V&A after Prague. He is a member of the Greek national curator's team and the national student exhibit of the UK for PQ23.  

Felix J Prince

Felix J Prince Kankwamba is a dynamic higher education professional, with a diverse skillset that enables him to transverse Politics, Higher Education and Creative Industry. Felix currently leads Widening Participation for Backstage Academy, where he can blend his passions for higher education outreach and pathways into the creative industries. Felix's mission is to create awareness of the breadth of careers in the creative industry but also help reimagine their skillset.

Over the past 10 years, Felix has built an international reputation leading projects and managing teams across Europe, this has led him to have opportunities to work in Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Nepal, Kazakhstan, and Indonesia. Felix believes in the power community, that it enables us to welcome and help people in a way we couldn’t as individuals. Aside from his professional experiences, Felix is a creatives creative; his interests and talent span many disciplines. Felix is an arts award accredited tutor, podcaster, DJ, event host and cultural entrepreneur.

Ant Forbes

Ant originally started off in the music industry as an artist when his band, Vex Red was signed to a major label record deal in 2001. After a couple of years, the group disbanded and Ant went straight into working for other artists, mainly as a Sound Engineer and Tour Manager but also in other roles including guitar and drum teaching, eventually specialising as a Production Manager.

Over a 15-year period Ant worked with artists such as The 1975, Nothing But Thieves, Leftfield, The Cribs, The Darkness and Elbow to name a few, but decided to come off the road in 2016 to join the Production Park family running the Mill Studio in Southwest London. Post covid, Ant has returned in part to live events by taking up Production Management roles in 2022 at Glastonbury Pyramid Stage and Leeds Festival Main Stage West

Dr. Anna Bramwell-Dicks

Dr Anna Bramwell-Dicks is a Research Fellow funded by XR Stories and a Lecturer in the School of Arts and Creative Technologies at the University of York. She has a PhD in Computer Science and is currently working on a project "Disability, Chronic and Mental Illness Representation in Past, Present and Future Stories". 

Her research primarily focuses on accessibility and disability representation in various media formats, particularly immersive media.   

Diana Scarborough

Diana Scarborough is Cambridge-based artist creating multi-disciplinary art pieces that intersects art, technology, history and the environment. Referencing scale and time, data, ecology and the invisible sciences, her time-based collaborative practice reveals a bias towards process, visualisation and performance.

Working directly with scientists she is able to understand the context of their research trajectory and outcomes with true understanding as she is also an engineer. Processes and implications of space weather, nanoparticle activity, historical developments of technology with social-economic implications all feature in works that highlight the unseen, the forgotten or global concerns transformed by a curiosity-led art lens.  

Dr Aby Cohen

Brazilian theatre and exhibition designer, curator and educator. President of OISTAT – 2021-2025. Internationally recognized for her work in Theatre, Exhibition, Film and Live Events, with projects realized in the United Kingdom, Germany, Portugal, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Suriname, Taiwan, Japan, Brazil and Argentina. 

Awarded with the Prague Quadrennial Golden Triga in 2011 as designer and curator of Brazil`s National Exhibition. Prague Quadrennial 2015 International curator of SharedSpace / Politics. IDCA2013 awarded as Best Exhibition Design for a project delivered to the Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam. PhD in Theatre Theory and Practice, with research on the intersection between Scenography - Art Installation - Expography and Performance. Currently living and working in the UK as the Head of the Postgraduate Department at Backstage Academy, Production Park.     

Ethan McKenna

I am an events technician specialising within video after graduating from Confetti Institute of Creative Technologies. 

I am visually impaired and use this experience to advise on and develop projects which aim to increase the opportunities for disabled people within the live events industry.   

Carol Scott

Carol Scott is the Principal Sustainability Advocate at TAIT, a global organization providing staging and automation for the live events industry. She spearheads the work for the Sustainability in Production Alliance. She champions, supports and helps coordinate the live music industry’s response to the climate and ecological emergency through her work on the advisory committees for the Theatre Green Book, LIVE Green and Music Sustainability Association. 

Her thought leadership work includes guest lecturing at colleges and universities on incorporating sustainable practices into the ecosystem of live events. She believes that music and live events have the power to positively affect people’s lives and influence broader societal change and accelerate global climate ambitions and policies.

Frazer Gall

Frazer started his career in logistics before moving into the live events industry. With over 20 years of experience, from Glastonbury to Silverstone, from rock and roll to theatre and house of worship to corporate he has worked in a diverse range of events. 

Since moving into lecturing at Backstage Academy 6 years ago he has taken the lead in teaching all things sound on the Live Events Production degree course. Through leading modules in Event Realisation, he challenges students to consider the environmental impact of live events and how we can work towards more sustainable practices.  

Lost Wolf

Since mid-2018, Wolf has been working from Cactus City, a female-run and inspired organisation in London, which aims to provide a safe and comfortable environment for female and underrepresented artists/writers to create and work. He is currently working with a number of artists who are on the verge of break-through and building a very diverse catalogue of music. 


Wolf also focuses on composing for media and writing bespoke pieces of music for TV and sync catalogues and has had placements on ESPN, Sky Sports, BBC, Comedy Central and Channel 4, while also working as a Sound Engineer for PRS For Music, and with them, has worked for artist such as Celeste, Rag and Boneman, Kojey Radical, IDLES, only to name a few.


Composer, Producer, Sound Nerd.

Dr Nina Willment

Dr Nina Willment is an economic and cultural geographer with expertise in digital labour and work in the cultural and creative industries. She graduated with a PhD from Royal Holloway, University of London, where her thesis examined the working lives and workspaces of freelancers within the creative economy. 

She is currently working on a project which is exploring the geographies of virtual production, as part of her role with XR Stories. This project is examining the pros and cons of virtual production, what new skills may be required for working in virtual production, and how virtual production might engage with structural problems in the film and TV industry.   

Oliver Bodevan

As an aspiring sound engineer, filmmaker and musician, the best and the worst part about my job is that every gig is different and I've got to learn about my body and my mind, how I feel how energy affects my performance. 

What I and others do affects how everyone is feeling, the best and the worst way to do a show and what we should do about it.

Professor Joslin McKinney

Joslin McKinney is Professor of Scenography and Programme Leader for the MA in Performance Design at the University of Leeds, UK. After working in theatre for 10 years designing sets and costumes, she completed a practice-based PhD into the communication of scenography in 2008. 

She is the lead author of the Cambridge Introduction to Scenography (CUP 2009) and co-editor of Scenography Expanded: an Introduction to Contemporary Performance Design (Bloomsbury 2017). In 2015 she was chair of the international jury for The Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space.    

Shannon Harvey

Shannon Harvey is a creative consultant and digital media workflow specialist. For the past 15 years, he has worked in live events, installations and TV. Shannon was the head of research at Production Park and a course leader of the BA Live Visual Design & Production degree at Backstage Academy. 

Along with his business partner Serena, he is the director of Creative Alchemy One and distributor of Smode for the UK. Currently, Shannon is a consulting supervisor on Virtual Production studios for Lux Machina and Apple TV.   

Phil Adlam

Phil Adlam is a lead researcher at XPLOR, the research & innovation centre for entertainment technology and production. 

He has 25 years of in-depth experience across the live event industry, including production management, arena touring, acoustic consultancy and virtual production technology development and design. He is currently researching new applications of virtual production technology and is developing them for the live event environment.  

Tanya Vital

Tanya is passionate about developing trans-media solutions & converging tech with artistic performance. She trained at RADA, is an alumnus of The National Youth Theatre & has worked for two decades in the entertainment industry. 

Since founding Vital Culture UK in 2020, she’s delivered 40+ live digital productions, provided opportunities for talent across the north, & been named 1 of the UK's top 100 #CreaTech 'companies to watch' by the UK Creative Industries Council.
Tanya produces interactive digital content & immersive experiences, & recently worked with XR Stories to develop an immersive, live-action crime thriller game for Twitch.  

Robin Cramp

Robin Heads the Business Development at Production Park for XPLOR - the world's first research & innovation centre for entertainment technology and production, developing capacity for their Centre for Virtual Production based in Yorkshire. 

An accomplished and award-winning digital sector specialist, he has heaps of experience in the creative, digital, and broadcast screen industries. Prior to joining Production Park, he was Industry Development Manager/Executive Producer at the University of York, and previously worked across the BBC within R&D, and creative marketing functions piloting and innovating with digital in products and campaigns.

Vikki Jones

Vikki Jones is an arts and humanities researcher, currently based in the Institute for Design Informatics at the University of Edinburgh as a Research Associate on the Creative Informatics programme. 

Her research examines the communication of value and values in the arts and creative industries. It considers the extent to which value and values are foregrounded in cultural programmes and asks what a values-driven and equitable cultural landscape would look and feel like for artists, creatives, producers, and audiences. Her work explores the developing language and contexts of data-driven cultural outputs and relationships and tensions between creativity and digital platforms.  

Warren Fearn

Warren started his career at Alias Wavefront learning 3D modelling and animation techniques, eventually moving to BBC Virtual Reality Studios developing virtual set designs for post-production using chroma keying and 3D tracking and the first interaction television programme. After a period, he worked within the BBC 3DFX department focusing on 3D motion graphics and producing content for various channels whilst winning several Promax awards and being nominated for an Emmy Award at New York Festival. 

His passion for connecting industry to education led him to work on curriculum development with NCFE and OCN to create 3D content for schools. Consequently, he became a member of the Autodesk Secondary School Committee and developed Autodesk STEAM content teaching pupils 3D animation through cross-curriculum for the UK and US markets. Warren joined York St John University and currently lectures on graphic design and oversees the postgraduate course, recently developing the MA Virtual and Augmented Reality programme. Over the last few years, he has undertaken a PhD at the University of York to explore the potential for engaging pupils in primary science through the use of augmented reality.  

Graham Thorne

Graham is the course leader of the BA (Hons) Live Visual Design and Production degree at Backstage Academy. He teaches 2D and 3D workflows, media server hardware, LED display technology, projection mapping, custom content, and generative workflows. He has a special interest in interactivity and immersive experiences - which has been the backbone of his career since he was a student. 

Graham loves joining the dots between software and hardware and linking the digital world with the real world. In his spare time, he freelances and works as a consultant in many of the subjects above. He also loves DJing progressive house given the chance! 

Dr Kathrine Sandys

Principal Lecturer/Head of Theatre Practice Programme - The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, University of London. 

Dr Kathrine Sandys and Lucy Thornett are the National curators of hello stranger: National Exhibition of UK Performance Design 2019-2023. They curated the talks programme for Staging Places, the UK entry for the Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space for 2019 and the subsequent V&A exhibition. They are both longstanding committee members of the Society of British Theatre Designers. 

Dr Dominic Brown

Dominic holds a PhD in Computer Science and Creative Technologies on Imogen Heap's Mi.Mu Gloves project, and is an experienced researcher, designer and developer of immersive products and experiences.  

Since joining Disguise in 2020, Dr Brown has been instrumental in advancing the company's research in Extended Reality technologies for virtual production, broadcast and live performances.  As a Lead Software Engineer, Dominic now heads the research team at Disguise.  

David Evans

Head of Production at National Theatre Wales, a company that mounts productions where that story is best told, be that an aircraft hanger, the side of mount Snowden, or a commuter train. 

Co-Chair of the ABTT. Board member of The Lagos Theatre Festival, former Chair of the PMF and part of the team that produced the Theatre Green Guide. 

I have worked in over 36 countries, including staging Chicago in the Becca Valley in  Lebanon, Phoenix Dance Company in Jamaica, all around Europe, Priscilla Queen of the Desert in the West End and many of Matthew Bourne’s around the world. 

Mary Stewart-David

Currently a PhD Researcher with Digital Creativity Labs at the University of York, working on spinning out research in VR & VP into a commercial Virtual Production Company. Mentored by the ex-CEO of ARM Holdings, working together on live performance using VR & VP techniques to make immersive and interactive music theatre. 

As a triple threat (Writer/Director/Producer) I am a veteran of over twenty West End musicals, plus a similar number of stage, film and multimedia productions in London, LA and New York, and well-known as a lyricist, dramatist, novelist and futurist. Trained in technical theatre at RADA and in performance at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama with an MA in Directing from Goldsmiths, London University and an MA in Screenwriting and Production. 

Tony Gill

Tony Gill is managing director of Polestar Productions, a specialist projection company and the UK partner for the Dynamic Projection Institutes ‘Mirror Head System.’ Best described as a professional Geek with a penchant for following creative white rabbits to see where they might lead! With 30++ years! 

Technical production experience in Theatre and special events, he leads a small team dedicated to creating unforgettable experiences for clients. He lives in Harrogate with his wife, Noeline, and a crazy terrier. When not creating memorable projection experiences for his clients can be found in the co-drivers seat of a range of stage rally cars contesting British Rally Championship events. 

Kate Bailey

Kate Bailey is Senior Curator of Theatre and Performance at the V&A with extensive experience working on the curation and design of new museums and exhibitions, creating innovative and theatrical interpretative and display solutions to complex and challenging subjects and narratives. 

Kate is currently curating DIVA – a performance exhibition opening at the V&A in June 2023; and recently curated Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser, which opened at the V&A in May 2021, before touring to China, Japan and Korea;  and Opera: Passion, Power and Politics a major international touring exhibition which opened at the V&A in September 2017. The immersive exhibition, described by the Guardian as ‘a game-changing spectacular show’ was the first in the V&A’s new 1100 sq m Sainsbury Gallery. Kate has edited the accompanying publication for all exhibitions. 

Kate's portfolio of work includes the recent VR experience – Curious Alice; Sonzai Mixed Reality at V&A and a range of exhibitions on Scenography, Design and Music. Recent V&A exhibitions include Russian Avant Garde Theatre: War, Revolution and Design (2014); Glastonbury Land and Legend (2015); Music Hall: Sickert and the Three Graces (2013); Space and Light: Edward Gordon Craig (2010) and the award-winning video installation, Five Truths (2011). Previous projects include the Big Picture Show at IWM North, the International Centre for Life in Newcastle and a theatrical installation at Leighton House Museum.  

Phil Holgate

Yorkshire-born Phil Holdgate has worked in the TV industry for more than 25 years in a variety of roles, from Production Finance to Project Management, but now focuses solely on reducing the impact that producing ITV's content is having on the planet.


As Head of Production Sustainability at ITV Studios, Phil has a global remit to implement ITV's Climate Action strategy across all of its production labels spanning 13 countries, as they transition towards becoming a Net Zero business by 2030.


ITV Studios - Making the biggest shows, with the smallest footprint

Jim Farmery

After graduating from Huddersfield Polytechnic, Jim worked in a graduate role at J Sainsbury plc, before moving into product management at Pace plc based in Bradford, working on innovation in set-top box integration into TVs, and launching the world’s first web browser-enabled set-top box for BT and Deutsche Telecom.


He then moved into creative sector development for ten years at Yorkshire Forward and subsequently worked at Creative England developing an investment strategy and a range of support programmes across the country.


He joined the Backstage Academy team in July 2020 to set up the XPLOR research arm and establish the first research & innovation centre in the world dedicated to entertainment technology and production.

Ian Caballero

Ian Caballero is a post-graduate Lecturer at Backstage Academy. He has been active in the events industry, as well as working in higher education for over a decade. 

Ian specialises in live sound, technical production, and the integration of technical systems. His current research focus on the future of technology for live events, and virtual production.   

Emily Lynch

As neurodiverse individuals, we become used to challenging the ‘norm’, in a world that often doesn’t seem as though it was built to include us. Emily has worked in the student services and support sector of higher education for over seven years and brings with her a wealth of experiences and insight in the fields of neurodiversity, mental health and wellbeing. 

Having worked holistically with an incredibly diverse range of learners, Emily prides herself on being person-centred and inclusive within her professional practices. As a recent university undergraduate, who was diagnosed with dyslexia and dyspraxia (DCD) at the age of 26 years old, Emily has worked hard to encourage the students she supports to work with, not against their learning differences. 

Emily has written several articles regarding mental health, neurodiversity and wellbeing, the latest being featured in Dyslexia Scotland Magazine. 

Alexa Penny

For 16 years Alexa has worked as a professional Stage and Company Manager within the theatre circuit, much of which was spent touring the UK and the world. 

In the past year, she has embarked on an exciting new phase of her career through teaching Stage and Production Management at degree level with Backstage Academy. Alexa is currently looking forward to embarking on her studies towards a PGCert in Teaching and Learning in Higher and Professional Education.   

Claire Porter

Claire has been working within the Stage and Production Management field as both a professional and educator for more than 20 years. 

After many years of working and teaching in Wales, Claire relocated to her home county of Yorkshire and transferred her theatrical stage management experience into the rock and roll industry within Backstage Academy, Production Park. 

She is currently working towards her Professional Doctorate in Educational Leadership and has a deep interest in the integration of professional practitioners into vocational teaching.   

Daniel Lock

Daniel Lock is a PhD researcher with Digital Creativity Labs and the department of Theatre, Film, Television and Interactive Media at the University of York, UK. 

With an interdisciplinary background in interactive media, creative technology and theatre, current his research focuses on investigating how Virtual Reality developers may make use of theatrical methodology to enhance storytelling, virtual environments and player experience. 


  • Getting here

    Our campus address is:

    Production Park 

    Langthwaite Business Park 

    South Kirkby 


    WF9 3AP

    Travelling by car: 

    The A1 is a 10-minute drive away from the campus and we offer designated free parking on site including access to electric vehicle charging points. Our campus is on a secure site with controlled entry and exit gates. When arriving for the Symposium, you will be required to enter through the gated system where the event team will assist you in getting in and parking up! 

    Travelling by train:

    Our closest train station is Moorthorpe and a 10-minute walk away from campus, with direct trains to Leeds (20 minutes), Sheffield (30 minutes) and Wakefield (10 minutes). 

    From Moorthorpe train station, the campus is a short 10-minute walk where you will come to a signed pedestrian entrance.  

    Travelling by bus: 

    The 496 bus leaves from Wakefield bus station at regular intervals and arrives in South Kirkby, with a short walk from the bus stop to the park. Wakefield bus station is located within a short walking distance of Wakefield Westgate. The bus journey from Wakefield to South Kirkby is approximately 25-30 minutes and leaves Wakefield bus station approximately 3 times per hour during weekdays. 

    For further information, please see the local bus timetable in the section 'getting around'. 

    Please also take a look at the campus map through the link below to support you in arriving at the Symposium. 


  • Staying here

    There are a number of hotel providers with varying rates, should you require overnight accommodation: 

    Wentbridge House | Hotel, Wedding Venue, Restaurant & Events - a 10-minute drive away

    Waterton Park Hotel and Walton Hall - a 20-minute drive away

    Holiday Inn, Doncaster -  a 20-minute drive away 

    Holiday Inn, Rotherham - a 20-minute drive away

    The Crown Hotel Bawtry - a 30-minute drive away

  • Getting around

    There is an hourly train service running from Moorthorpe station to Wakefield, Leeds, Sheffield and Manchester. Please ensure you check any travel arrangements you may need to make with the train line provider. 

    Should you require taxi travel, we recommend that you pre-book in advance to ensure you can get from A to B! We would recommend using Ace Taxi's in Wakefield.

    A local, regular bus timetable is in operation during the Symposium. This is a great way to get to Wakefield city centre. Take a look at the timetable below.