Performance Academy

The Performance Academy course is designed to cater to the diverse needs and creative aspirations of learning disabled and autistic people.

Whether you seek professional advancement in the arts or simply wish to explore your creative self, our course offers an accessible, supportive, inclusive, and enriching environment where everyone can thrive.

York St John University validates Performance Academy course to Certificate of Education in Performing Arts Level 4, the only one in the UK.

Applications for Performance Academy 2024 -2027 course are now open

Apply Now

The Course

We have listened to learning disabled and autistic people to establish the Performance Academy. A place where everyone can explore their creative ambitions, whether it’s for personal joy or a pathway to a professional career.

The Performance Academy offers comprehensive training in Theatre, Music, Dance, and Industry Studies. Beyond artistic skills, we focus on building confidence, communication and teamwork.

Through detailed one-on-one assessments, we provide personalised support to enable students to develop skills in an accessible learning environment. 

A side shot of a row of men and women singing into microphones in a studio. The person in focus is a white man in his mid twenties with floppy blonde hair and is wearing a striped jumper.

Located in Bradford, our fully equipped studios provide a safe space for learning where everyone will have the opportunity to collaborate with experienced artists and engage with professional companies. 

Our course is thoughtfully designed to cater to the specific needs of learning disabled and autistic people, and we provide a nurturing and inclusive environment where everyone can thrive.

We prepare learning disabled and autistic people for a future filled with creativity and self expression.

a white man and woman with down syndrome are stood next to each other posing. the woman is looking at the man.

Our partnership with York St John University ensures that our course is validated to Certificate of Education Level 4, a unique offering in the UK for people with learning disabilities and autism.

Each year, our students take the stage in our annual Showcase performance, allowing their unique talents to shine in front of an appreciative audience.

A group of people dancing against a black background. A white man with curly brown hair is leading them.

Performance Academy is a 3-year full-time training course for learning disabled and autistic people.

  • Starting September 2024 and ending July 2027
  • 35 weeks per year
  • Core hours: Monday to Thursday, 10 am to 3pm
  • Over the age of 18 years old
  • Learning disabled and or autistic people
  • A keen interest in the Performing Arts with a drive to explore and work in the arts industry
  • The Performance Academy course costs £50 per day – this is usually paid for by the student’s local authority through Adult Social Care Personal Budgets.
  • If you have any questions about the registration process or the Performance Academy please call us on 01274 487390 or email us academy@mind-the-gap.org.uk 

Community and Networking

We cultivate relationships, nurture mutual support, and commemorate every milestone as one big family. Embark on this creative journey with us and become a cherished member of our lively and welcoming community.
  • Family Connections: We encourage participants and their families to connect, forming a supportive community.
  • Regular Gatherings: Join us for regular events, providing opportunities for participants and families to bond and share experiences.
  • Open Rehearsals: Witness your loved ones in action during open rehearsals and connect with like minded people.
  • Support Network: Our dedicated support staff facilitate connections and provide assistance to both students and their families.
  • Inclusive Performances: Enjoy inclusive performances and celebrate the many talents of our students alongside other families in our community.
A group shot of the members of the Mind the Gap Academy
A white man with glasses and short blonde hair is singing and clapping. In the background is a blurred group of people who are watching him.

Year 1: Building Strong Foundations

  • Explore Classic and Contemporary plays.
  • Get started with dance through Dance Techniques.
  • Develop music performance skills: song writing, music composition, keyboard skills, vocals and body percussion.
  • Discover how professional theatre and performance companies work.

Year 2: Expanding Your Horizons

  • Dive into Physical Theatre and learn from physical theatre companies.
  • Strengthen your Dance Choreography skills.
  • Study Music Production for screen and stage.
  • Understand your skills in a broader industry context.

Year 3: Achieve Excellence Together

  • Study Music Composition and try your hand at song writing.
  • Choreograph your own dance piece.
  • Hone your Devising Theatre skills.
  • Showcase your talents in a final Performance Project that combines theatre, music, and dance.
  • Create a portfolio focused on professional pathways.

When I’m in the building I feel that I’m doing something I want to do and I’m progressing towards a career, I enjoy the subjects and just getting on with it in theatre, dance and going on the keyboard.

Jake Thow

I feel very supported seeing smiley faces and being given time and patience and staff know me well.

Cara Bussey

Performance Academy Staff

A headshot of Emily Kecic. Emily is a white woman with shoulder length, straight blonde hair. She has blue eyes and is smiling, showing her teeth. She is wearing a long sleeved top, which is patterned with thin blue, white and orange horizontal stripes. She is wearing a silver necklace with a small circular pendant. The photo is taken outside in front of large red triangular vents.

Emily Kecic

Associate Artist: Theatre

Emily works with our amazing Performance Academy to develop and nurture their skills in theatre.

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A headshot of Karen Bartholomew. She is a white woman in her thirties with blue eyes and long brown hair, which is tied up. She is wearing a black shirt with small pink spots on it and blue tortoise shell glasses. The photo is taken outside in front of a large red vent and an old mill building.

Karen Bartholomew

Associate Artist: Dance and Engagement

Karen started with Mind the Gap in 2008 and is now an Associate Artist in Dance and Engagement.

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A headshot of Matt Evens. He is a white middle aged man with dark eyes, short blonde hair and an auburn beard. He is wearing a dark blue hoodie. The photo is taken outside in front of some large red vents.

Matt Evens

Associate Artist: Music

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A headshot of Jack Yarrow. He is a white man in his twenties with blue eyes and long hair. He is wearing a blue baseball cap and a black jumper. The photo is taken outside in front of an old mill building.

Jack Yarrow

Academy Music Tutor

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A headshot of Melissa Conyers. She is a white woman in her twenties with dark eyes and long brown hair. She is wearing a flowery patterned dress and small hoop earrings. The photo is taken outside in front of some large red vents.

Melissa Conyers

Head of Learning and Support (Maternity Deputy for Academy Director)

Melissa is responsible for overseeing the Performance Academy programme in partnership with York St John’s University and managing the student’s support needs and welfare.

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A headshot of Charli Ward. She is a white woman in her thirties with green eyes, red lipstick and should length dark/blond ombre hair. She is wearing a blue flowery patterned dress and a chunky brown necklace. The photo is taken outside in front of a large red vent.

Charli Ward

Academy Director (Maternity Leave)

Charli oversees the smooth running of Mind the Gap Academy.

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A headshot of Becca Johnson. She is a white woman in her twenties with blue eyes and shoulder length mid brown hair. She has a small nose ring and is wearing a pink top and a brown cardigan. The photo is taken outside in front of a large black frame.

Becca Johnson

Learning Support Worker

Becca provides hands on support in sessions, ensuring that everyone is learning to their best ability.

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A headshot of Katie Aynsley. She is a white woman in her twenties with dark eyes and long auburn hair. She is wearing a blue denim jacket with a fur collar. The photo is taken outside in front of an old mill building.

Katie Aynsley

Academy Dance Tutor

Katie is the Academy Dance Tutor, which means she can usually be found downstairs in our Dance Studio!

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Applications for Performance Academy 2024 -2027 course are now open

Apply Now

Frequently Asked Questions

The Performance Academy course is validated by York St John University

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