An increase in theatre productions and general entertainment shows around the region has created a demand for qualified stage technicians, according to a local academic. Aubrey Wilson, dean of technical arts at the academy, said while much had been written about the downturn in the local film industry, theatre and television productions were growing and needed technical staff. He said before the academy was established in 1984 the few live theatre productions were mostly from overseas, but this was changing with the large number of students graduating annually from the School of Drama. 'What we are seeing is a lot of small theatre companies being formed. Hong Kong writers are now producing scripts for local audiences instead of just translating Western scripts into Cantonese,' Mr Wilson said. 'This is healthy and all these productions need technicians. Film is only the tip of the iceberg. In a course like this [technical arts], there are a lot of parallel fields such as window display, architectural lighting, store design, theme parks and touring shows. The entertainment field is large and growing.' Mr Wilson said the academy was taking applications for its technical arts programme, offering a two-year diploma course, a three-year Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) degree and a two-year advanced diploma. Both courses run from September to June. The diploma course will provide a balance of introductory theory and practical experience with students being introduced to stage management, lighting, set and costume design, sound engineering and scenic arts among others. They then choose an area to specialise in. This course is a prerequisite to enter the BFA programme. Admission to the diploma course requires a minimum of Form Five level, relevant experience and an interview with school staff. Mr Wilson said about 98 per cent of the programme's graduates in the last seven years had found work in the industry. 'A lot of people may not fare well academically [in high school], but that doesn't mean they are not talented. They may think in a different way. They are good with their hands and they are creative and, when they come here to interview, they find a way to satisfy themselves to be successful and feel good about themselves,' he said. 'Maybe all the way through the school system they were an outsider and now this is an opportunity for them to excel. 'In about 10 years, some of our graduates will have some fairly healthy international credentials.' The deadline for applications is May 1.