Entrepreneurs raise the ‘bar’ for local physical arts facilities

In a foray into the Northern Irish dance scene, two entrepreneurs have opened Northern Ireland’s first physical arts academy.

ancer Charlotte Fastiggi helps raise the ‘bar’ as Elaine Bailie and Sarah Durrant unveil their new center in east Belfast, which will also see high-flying acrobatics.

Around ten jobs are to be created with the launch of the Academy of Physical Arts in Belfast, located at Prince Regent Road.

Ms. Bailie and Ms. Durrant, both members of the Academy of Professional Physical Arts (APPN), have made a substantial investment in the center which will provide high level training to gymnasts, dancers, acrobats and jumpers.

The duo, who were showcasing their new facilities to lender, James Foote of Ulster Bank, plan to employ 12 people by the end of 2014 in a variety of roles including full-time instructors, an apprentice and support roles.

The entrepreneurs were supported with a loan from Ulster Bank Funding for Lending, through the Funding for Lending Scheme of the Bank of England.

The funding will help upgrade their new training facilities in East Belfast to international standards.

Both men have extensive experience behind them, with Ms Durrant acting as an examiner for the Royal Academy of Dance.

Ms Bailie, National Judge and Coach of British Gymnastics, said: “We aim to provide high caliber artistic physical training to talented gymnasts, dancers and aerial dancers.

“So we were determined to design and complete the installation to the highest standards and Ulster Bank’s support in making the necessary investments was absolutely crucial.

Andy Mills, regional director of corporate banking at Ulster Bank, said: “Elaine and Sarah have impressive credentials and have both been involved in the physical arts industry at a high level.

“They are investing to create what is in a very high level facility. As a new job creation start-up, this is a great example of local entrepreneurship that Ulster Bank is happy to support.”

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William E. Bennett

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