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Monday, 22 September 2014

£2.5m media centre given a Kick Start

PRUDHOE’S £2.5 million Fuse media centre is finally up and running.

The state-of-the-art building at Prudhoe High School, which has been in the pipeline for years, opened its doors on Wednesday, as over 60 young people from around the region turned out to meet top media talent as part of Channel 4’s Kick Start talent programme.

Offering facilities for television, radio and art studies, the centre is designed as a hub for diploma students as well as the wider media community.

Built over the last 12 months using the latest green technology, it is also destined to host performances, productions and screenings, fostering numerous creative partnerships.

Headteacher of Prudhoe High School Dr Iain Shaw said: “We’re still testing the systems and fine-tuning things, but this is the first of a number of pre-launch events.

“We’re delighted everything’s in place and, although it seems like a long time in the making, it’s actually progressed quite quickly.

“There’s been a lot of excitement from everyone who’s seen it.”

Design, technology and film studies teacher Tim Smith, who has already taken some classes in the centre, added: “There’s been a fairly constant stream of students using it.

“There have been gasps as people entered for the first time, which is reassuring – we always wanted it to feel completely different to day-to-day school.”

The project has been driven by Tynedale Virtual College, a collaboration of Tynedale’s four high schools, with Dilston College and Hexham Priory School.

Over the course of six years, four other sites, including two in Hexham, were considered.

Funding came through a successful bid to the Department for Children, School and Families, which also allocated £1.5 million for a satellite residential skills centre at Ridley Hall. This is also nearing completion.

Fuse, which was designed by the renowned Napper Architects, includes television and radio production studios, editing suites, training rooms, performance areas, an exhibition space and state-of-the-art recording equipment.

Although fitting neatly into an unused plot of land to the far west of the school, the plans were not without their controversial elements.

Northumberland County Council, which passed the scheme in June last year, received 29 letters of objection and a petition bearing 54 names from residents unhappy about everything from increased traffic to visual impact.

But Dr Shaw said: “The builders tried their best to make sure any impact on the neighbours was minimised.

“We’ve now increased the number of parking spaces on the site, which we’re hoping will alleviate the problems some have suggested.

“We’ve already had some people in to have a look and we’ll be inviting residents to come and see the building as part of the launch process.”

Wednesday’s Inspiration Day North, part of 4Talent’s Kick Start programme, included workshops and presentations from lifestyle presenter Julian Bennett, screenwriter Steve Chambers, film maker Nick Hillel, head of Channel 4’s Learning and 4Talent Jo Taylor and singer-songwriter Anna Leigh Middleton.

Testing out the new technology, the professionals aimed to offer insights in their working lives.

Inspiration Day North producer Carol Alevroyianni said: “It’s good to be working with the next generation of media professionals in a space that has been built for exactly that purpose and to be working with an organisation that shares many of our objectives.

“Fuse has everything we need and more, from TV studio, Mac suite and cinema, to recording studios and versatile shared spaces for networking.

“And it looks great too, with some amazing views.”

The event was one of a series taking place throughout the UK aimed at young people wanting to break into the media industry.

For more information, see http://4talent.channel4.com/ View more photos here

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