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Performing arts academy dancing to a new tune

Relocating HQ to Livingston will treble study opportunities

Plans to expand one of Scotland’s largest centres of performing arts from Edinburgh into Livingston are reaching a crescendo.

The MGA Academy’s purpose-built 30,000 sq ft campus will allow the centre to triple its student intake to more than 500 and to extend its educational programme to 11 BA degrees, two post-graduate Masters degrees, and strengthen foundation courses.

Founded in 2015 and currently based in Balgreen, West Edinburgh, the MGA Academy’s new headquarters in a former tax office in Almondvale, Livingston, will welcome its first intake of pupils in September and will feature Scotland’s largest sprung dance floor which extends to 347 sq ft.

The facilities, which represents a multi-million pound investment, include seven rehearsal studios for acting and musical theatre, seven fully-sprung dance studios, four singing rooms and a TV production suite. Other features include a student welfare and physiotherapy room, a learning resource centre and library, IT suites, study areas and a cafe and social areas.

The MGA Academy is approved by the Scottish Qualifications Agency, the Imperial Society for the Teachers of Dance, and is Scotland’s only fully accredited college with the UK’s Council for Dance, Drama and Musical Theatre.

The centre is urging potential students to enrol early to avoid disappointment of missing out on a place during its milestone first year in the new campus.

Giles Auckland Lewis, Chief Executive of The MGA Academy, said: “We are very excited to see our new West Lothian campus taking shape and from September we are preparing to welcome up to three times the number of students we could previously enrol.

“With its location almost equidistant between Edinburgh and Glasgow and enjoying a superb motorway and roads infrastructure, the new base will be much more convenient for students and staff alike and this marks the opening of a new chapter in our success story.

“We have spared no expense to create a truly spectacular centre which will take the raw talent and sparkling potential of home grown and international performing arts students, and give them the basic tools through to advanced skills to dance, sing, act and perform at the highest levels.”

The MGA Academy was founded in 2015 to address a demand for an innovative performing arts academy outside of London and has produced a wealth of talented graduates who have appeared in studios, on stage and on screen in major productions.

It will retain its footprint in Edinburgh, with its existing Balgreen campus becoming a dedicated hub for junior age groups between 4 and 18, with Livingston the focus for college, degree level and postgrad students.

Mr Auckland-Lewis added: “The MGA Academy at Livingston will be truly world class and it is nothing less than our talented students deserve. The new campus ensures that we can continue to attract world-class tutors drawn from across the UK, Europe and the US, who have the teaching skills to deliver our courses for preparing the next generation of professional performers.

“We are providing a platform for aspiring performers to remain in Scotland while studying at a level equivalent to other prestigious UK colleges and potential students should act now to ensure they are part of the inaugural intake at our new home.”

Former student, Kieran Cooper who is currently performing in the Strictly Ballroom UK tour said: “I think the move is a very smart one as it opens MGA to a whole new audience. Having everyone under the one roof rather than spread over separate campuses can only be a good thing.

“I have seen some of the photos of the new place and it looks spectacular and I cannot wait to come and visit once it opens!”

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