ENTERTAINER Jonathan Wilkes aims to help more aspiring stars when he opens a second performing arts centre in Swindon next month.

Jonathan, 35, and wife Nikki will be running the new Wilkes Academy of Performing Arts, in Westmead Industrial Estate, with friend Suzanne Mole. They already have a sister centre in the town and believe the two venues will complement each other.

The new site will specialise in dance with state of the art studios, while the first centre will focus on developing students’ acting skills.

TV presenter and West End star Jonathan, originally from Stoke-on-Trent, said: “We are excited about the new college, which will be up there with the best in the country.

“Nikki is from Swindon and we live here so we’re passionate about being part of the community.

“Swindon is a great area and what amazes me is the massive appetite it has for the performing arts – especially dance.

“The new centre has an intake of 60, with students being local and even international as we have people coming from Germany and Holland.

“We are full but we always have room for passionate people and would never turn talent away.”

The new centre will open on September 8 and local groups have already been using the facilities. The courses are open to those over 16 but the Wilkes Academy of Performing Arts, which also has centres in Stoke, does run weekend junior sessions.

The centre has a relationship with Swindon College, which allows it to offer a BTEC Level 3 in performing arts.

Jonathan said: “One of the big important things for us is that relationship with the college. Sometimes in this industry it is not always what you know but who you know.

“We try to provide the best education and connections for our students.”

Despite being a working performer, Jonathan makes sure he regularly visits all the academies to meet the students and run masterclasses.

He said: “Nikki and Suzanne do a great job and we have fantastic teaching staff. I love being able to come in and do masterclasses.

“If you’d have told me five or six years ago that I was going to be a principal of an academy I’d have laughed but I’m loving it. I have a great passion for it and it is the most rewarding thing that I’ve done in my career.”

For more information about the new centre and its courses, visit www.wilkes academy.co.uk.