Darlington Academy of Performing Arts (DAPA) returns to face-to-face teaching in the studio with brand-new classes for anyone aged from two years to adult.

After several months of online classes and workshops, DAPA launched its timetable for September. DAPA is run by Paul and Joanne Mason and started two years ago, with one two-hour class, teaching drama, singing and dancing. With an increase in demand they added add extra classes, building up to nearly 100 students.

About DAPA
In November 2019, they moved into their own premises and what began as an empty shell, they decorated and tried to make it a place for their students to call home. They continued their aim of bringing more arts to schools, by offering free workshops throughout Darlington (supported by funding from DfC Small Grants Scheme), including a project for Darlington Library’s BookFest.

In March 2020, as with so many other businesses, they were forced to close their doors due to Covid-19, but DAPA kept their students busy during lockdown. Paul said: “We wanted to help keep our students active and, more importantly, we wanted them to be able to socialise with their friends. We held several weekly sessions, including workshops with West End stars and worked on video projects, including an ‘Isolation Showcase’ which we wrote especially for them.”

While many organisations struggled to stay afloat, especially those in the performing arts industry, Paul and Joanne tried to stay positive by continuing to renovate their premises. “We spent days and nights at the studio, painting and decorating. We wanted to have everything ready for the day we could return to the studio.”

Finally, with the easing of restrictions in August, DAPA returned to the studio for summer workshops. “We weren’t allowed to put on a show at the end of the workshops, so we decided to create a video production with the use of green-screen technology.

“We made sure everyone was safe and socially distanced, but on screen we could edit the footage, so it looked like they were standing right next to each other. It was a completely different way of working but the students loved it as they felt like they were in the movies!”

  • DAPA’s new timetable includes new classes for acting, singing and dancing from age 2 years to adult
  • Annabelle Crosby-Stewart has joined the team and is teaching dance; DAPA is now registered as a LAMDA exam centre