Belfast Telegraph

Entrepreneurs raise the 'barre' on local physical arts facilities

By Lesley Houston

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

Dancer Charlotte Fastiggi is helping to raise the 'barre' as Elaine Bailie and Sarah Durrant unveil their new centre in east Belfast which will also see some high-flying acrobatics.

A dozen jobs are to be created with the launch of the physical arts academy 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 centre which will provide high calibre training for gymnasts, dancers, acrobats and aerialists.

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

The entrepreneurs have been supported by an Ulster Bank Funding for Lending loan, through the Bank of England's Funding for Lending Scheme.

The finance will assist the fit-out of their new purpose-built east Belfast training facilities to international standards.

The pair have vast experience behind them, with Ms Durrant acting as an examiner for the Royal Academy of Dance.

Ms Bailie, a national judge and coach with British Gymnastics, said: "We aim to provide high calibre artistic physical training for talented gymnasts, dancers and aerial dancers.

"We were therefore determined to design and finish the facility to the highest standards and Ulster Bank's support to make the necessary investment has been absolutely crucial."

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

"They are investing to create what is in a facility of very high standards. As a start-up business creating new jobs, it is a great example of local entrepreneurship that Ulster Bank is pleased to support."

Belfast Telegraph