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Royal Opera House celebrates winners of student Design Challenge 

Design student Sam Howard holding a framed certificate for the Royal Opera House Design Challenge competition, stood beside a mannequin dressed in ta theatre costume.

The Royal Opera House has celebrated the 2023 winners of its prestigious Design Challenge at a special prizegiving event.

The Design Challenge is a nation-wide competition that opens the door to the arts, providing an opportunity for young people across the country to get invaluable insight into vocational careers. 

This year participants were tasked with creating designs for Mozart’s The Magic Flute and over 450 students entered the competition from 28 schools and colleges across the UK.

Launched in 2011, the Challenge is open to anyone studying Art and Design from GCSE to Foundation Degree level. It requires applicants to try their hand at designing sets, costumes, wigs, makeup or a marketing campaign for a designated opera or ballet production. Students research and produce design prototypes, relaying their ideas and process in a 90-minute portfolio pitch.

Work by all finalists was seen and scrutinized by judging panels of professional designers and creatives at the Royal Opera House.

Sam Howard from East Sussex College, who was joint winner in the costume design category, said:

‘I drew inspiration from Sci-Fi films and games that have fascinated me throughout my life to design, develop and produce a costume that puts a futuristic spin on Mozart’s Magic Flute and aims to inspire a younger generation.’

Jillian Barker, Director of Learning and Participation at the Royal Opera House, said: 

‘The Royal Opera House is thrilled to have hosted the winners of our flagship Design Challenge programme. Having spent the day touring the Royal Opera House and meeting practitioners in departments across the building, the winners were presented with their awards in our Linbury Foyer.  We hope this will prove life-changing both for those who attended, but also the many who sent in submissions – an experience that inspires creativity, builds their confidence and opens up opportunities for them to build a career in the arts industry.’

Next year’s Design Challenge will open on 21 June 2023. Students from across the country are encouraged to enter. Find out more here.

Photo: Royal Opera House