BLACKBURN is to get a new performing arts academy.

The new drama, dance and singing project is aimed at young people from the age of eight to 24.

Founded by Canadian-born composer and musician Dr Trevor Siemens and his long-standing team, it will use the hall, gym and classroom at Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in West Park Road.

It is scheduled to open on Saturdays from April 23.

It will be divided into two age groups - an academy for 14 to 21-year-olds and junior programme for eight to 13-years-olds.

They will each have between 14 and 60 members working in three separate sessions.

Dr Siemens - who has recently moved to Blackburn from Whitworth - and his team have spent several years working together at Bury's Holy Cross College.

He said: "The team behind iPAN believe in making the performing arts accessible to all: supporting and encouraging young people to find their individual voice - both onstage and in society more generally.

"The team’s approach focusses on building solid technical foundations, while fostering each student’s creativity and individuality, with the aim of preparing them for further education in the performing arts or professional work.

"Students are able to develop confidence through regular performances.

"As there are fewer and fewer opportunities for young people to pursue these subjects within formal education (student numbers in music and drama have declined sharply over the past decade as fewer schools offer these subjects) - we want to be able to offer the opportunity outside of school or college.

"The iPAN company provides an opportunity to explore a variety of theatrical genres through an annual season of performances alongside individualised coaching.

"It offers an excellent option for gap year students wanting to refine their skills and prepare for a move into further education or employment.

"Recent industry reports have highlighted the fact that the skills developed through participation in the performing arts - creativity, collaboration, decision-making and flexibility - will be vital to future employment as more and more jobs become automated.

"iPAN’s core team - Trevor, Paul, Charlotte and Slava - have been fostering these skills and inspiring young people through over 70 years of teaching experience between them.

"We are extremely excited to start working with the young people of Blackburn with Darwen."