If We Can You Can: GLAS Performing Arts Academy

If We Can You Can: GLAS Performing Arts Academy

Stuart Angus and Gareth Lee set up GLAS Performing Arts Academy to make performing arts more accessible. They spoke to BQ about why they are entering their business into this year's If We Can You Can challenge...

Tell us about your business

GLAS Performing Arts Academy is a community interest company which aims to provide affordable opportunities in music, dance, drama and fitness to people who could not otherwise afford it. We aim to focus on areas of high deprivation within the North East and hold the ethos of 'Arts for Everyone'. Through this ethos we aim to bridge the gap between people who would not otherwise socially interact and give them a common cause to come together and create that community feeling which is very often lost in the modern day world.

We hold ethos of 'Arts for Everyone' as our core in everything that we do and firmly believe that regardless or race, age, gender, creed or background every person should be given the opportunity to participate in performing arts in one way or another and no one should be excluded from doing so.


What did you do before setting up your business?

Stuart: I worked in retail in varying capacities and I also currently teach piano

Gareth: I worked for a promotions company based in the North East and also danced professionally.


What inspired you to set up your business?

We both really believe that performing arts need to be made more accessible to everyone within the community. Quite often music, dance and drama are not thought to be of a lot of importance but through both of our personal journeys we have come to realise that Performing Arts can help people overcome many different barriers, improve their lifestyle and also can help to give people who wouldn't normally interact a common cause to do so.


What makes this business different?

GLAS Performing Arts Academy is different from any other Performing Arts Academy as we hold the value of 'arts for everyone' at our core. Our attitude is that anyone can get involved with performing arts regardless of their background, experience, age or gender. The majority of our classes will be open access where anyone can come along and have a try in a safe and non-judgemental environment. Many other Performance Academies are ran purely for profit but we will be using profits that have been generated to reinvest back into the community to offer free or subsidised workshops and classes.


What inspired you to enter the If We Can You Can Challenge?

We were inspired to enter the If We Can You Can challenge as we love talking about our business and the opportunities presented through entering this challenge would give us a great platform to talk to even more people about it! The help and support that is given from the industry experts judging panel would also prove to be invaluable in helping to drive our business forward.


Where do you see your business in three years’ time?

Currently we do not have a fixed premises and we are using facilities around the borough of Gateshead to hold our events and classes. In three years we would love to have our own place where people can benefit from top class music, dance and drama tuition, workshops and classes


What has been the most rewarding part of your journey so far?

The most rewarding part of our journey so far has been being able to offer something a bit different to the borough of Gateshead and getting such a positive reaction from everyone we talk to.  We have a small number of regular classes running at the moment and several community performances coming up including a very special performance at the Sage Gateshead on the 29th October as part of the North East Social Enterprise Festival and also a Silent Film Festival at St Mary's Heritage Centre on the 20th and 21st January 2017.


What has been your biggest challenge?

Our biggest challenge has been setting ourselves clear direction in what we want to be able to achieve. We are both very creative with our thinking and get excited by lots of different ideas but at first found it was very hard to channel them into something workable. We really had to focus on what our priorities were and almost work back from there to set ourselves a clear path.


Who/what gave you support or advice?

We have had great support from Gateshead Council in getting ourselves set up, they have been amazing in connecting us with other people in the Social Enterprise world. Without their support we still would not have got ourselves off the ground.


What advice would you give to someone looking to set up their own business?

Our best bit of advice is to make as many connections and to network wherever possible. A lot of our contacts have been made just by sending an email to introduce ourselves, tell them what we were about and to ask if they could take some time out of their schedule to talk to us. We really do feel that the more people that understand your business and what you stand for the more likely they are to buy into your vision and values. But most of all don't be afraid to try it out, there are a lot of resources out there and a lot of people who want to help so don't be afraid to use them!


Stuart and Gareth will be exhibiting their business at the Social Enterprise Festival at The Sage Gateshead on 29th of October, 2016. For tickets and more information, click here: