High House Production Park is a fourteen acre site overlooking the Thames in Thurrock. It has a public park, heritage buildings, but most especially it has brand new state of the art facilities for the creative industries. All in all it’s a great combination of facilities, location, and atmosphere. I think more important that all of that is the extraordinary partnership that we’ve got here between a number of organizations who are at the top of their game in the creative industries. The new costume centre is the home for a completely unique degree course in Costume Construction, which is delivered in the workplace of the Opera House so students work alongside the professionals. There are many benefits for the Opera House having a base that’s so close to their Covent Garden home. We have a costume store which houses all of the repertory costumes for the Royal Opera House. Also, old stock which will be accessible for designers to reuse and recycle. We’ve also got the costume course which is going on with South Essex College. We’ve got the costume archive which houses all of the historical collection for the Royal Opera House. And the costume workshop which will be making costumes for primarily the Chorus and the corps de ballet. I’m studying Costume Construction, I wanted to do it here, with its links to the Royal Opera House I just felt that that was more of a course for me because I want to go into theatre and things like that. We have the archive of costumes that are here that we can easily access and the people that work directly with the Opera House are literally below us. So if we’ve got questions, or anything like that, we can just go and ask them. Here in the Royal Opera House workshops we produce, paint, and create all the scenery and refurbs for The Royal Ballet, The Royal Opera and Birmingham Royal Ballet. Being here at High House Production Park and coming into Thurrock was very much about being able to do so much more production of our scenery but also about being part of a much wider community in Thurrock. There’s a definite feel of working in a real top class institution, so I am getting to learn a real wide range of skills. I know from past apprentices that they’ve had some pretty good opportunities come their way once finishing. Clients that visit the back stage centre can use it for rehearsal, for filming, for production, for training. And alongside all of those activities, those professional activities, we have students in residence that are also training and they benefit from that integration with industry. It’s really providing affordable creative workspace for local artists where there was no provision before. I think it’s bringing everyone together, there is quite a good buzz here. A lot of doors have opened through us being here. So the Royal Opera House aims to reach as many people as possible through our programmes here at High House Production Park. So that means that people from all different ages and all different backgrounds can find a way to connect with the creative industries. Whether it be through their early years in schools, or whether it be through volunteering or singing in one of our groups, or joining one of our making craft workshop, so it’s a fantastically broad offer. We hope that people can touch base with us at any point on the way. It’s just lovely to be involved with it all, and having the chance and the opportunity and to be taken up tomorrow to Covent Garden to sing there, I mean where can an old Essex girl like me get the chance to do something that? Having the cultural hub in Thurrock is really important. Important for building the aspirations especially of young people in the borough. One of the things that we’ve done is create what we call the cultural entitlement that gives access to high quality culture to every young person in the borough. To write, to create, to sing, to build, and to see good quality art is really important for those young people. Having a cultural hub, having High House Production Park here, has been transformational. A decade ago most young people in Thurrock wouldn’t have dreamt of going to Covent Garden to see the Opera. We’ve now got young people in the borough who have performed on the stage there. That just wouldn’t have happened without the power of High House Production Park being here in Purfleet. A really exciting development for all of us in the Thurrock area is the prospect of the National College for Creative and Cultural Industries. This will be a brand new institution a national centre of excellence to deliver training and technical and craft skills for our industry. It will be open to students from the age of sixteen upwards and will prove an alternative to going into higher education, it will provide vocational professional technical training for students who might want to become technicians in the industry, who might want to work backstage, work in production, music, theatre, film, broadcast, it’s a very exciting new development. We’ll have some of the finest employers from across the UK who will be delivering those courses directly. So we can’t wait and neither can the schools of Thurrock. We’re here forever, we are a new sector for employment.