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Apprentices On Top Of The World

Posted on 5 March 2019

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Creative apprentices in the North East are experiencing all aspects of working at cultural venues, including walking on the roof of one of the country’s most iconic buildings – Sage Gateshead.

The brave feat took place to celebrate National Apprenticeship Week (Monday 4 – Friday 8 March). The Creative Apprenticeship programme is delivered by Sage Gateshead in partnership with Gateshead College, and gives young people a new, alternative route into the creative industries. It is also a great way for employers to train up a young and diverse workforce with the right skills for the future.

One hundred apprentices have come through the scheme, since it was launched in 2008. Walking on the roof of Sage Gateshead were apprentices Holly Blythman and Emma Dowson and former apprentice Emma-Louise Gorman, who now works full-time in Sage Gateshead’s marketing and communications team.

After the roof walk employers were invited to a special event at Sage Gateshead to hear about new plans to make the Creative Apprenticeship scheme even more exciting and rewarding for apprentices.

On the job learning is a big part of the scheme and there are opportunities for apprenticeships in community arts, cultural and heritage venue operations, live events and promotions and technical theatre (lighting, sound and rigging).

The new delivery programme includes the chance to hear from industry experts and spend time in different cultural venues, and the opportunity to work towards a Gold Arts Award.

Ivan Jepson, director of business development at Gateshead College, said: “The partnership between ourselves and Sage Gateshead has been really successful and on the back of this, we’re really delighted to be working with them on their new creative industries apprenticeship programme.

“Creative industries are really important for our economy so it’s vital we continue to develop new talent so that the sector can continue to thrive. Not only are apprenticeships a great way of bringing new skills into these industries and developing the current workforce, they also provide a fantastic option for bright, creative individuals who are looking to work in the sector.”

Pat Blyth, Creative Apprenticeship Co-ordinator at Sage Gateshead, said: “We are proud to celebrate our creative apprentices during National Apprenticeship Week and excited to unveil our new plans for delivering the programme.

“As well as providing a different way into creative industries they can also be a viable route to university, giving young people the skills and confidence they need to step into higher learning.”

Holly Blythman, 23, of Stockton-on-Tees, is a creative apprentice currently working at ARC, Stockton Arts Centre, supporting community arts projects such as the young person’s programme ‘More Stuff like This Please!’

She said: “It has absolutely helped to shape my career aspirations and ambitions. I have been able to get involved in as much as I like at ARC and I have learnt so much.

“I would definitely recommend it to others as it is such a great opportunity to get involved in the arts and be fully supported and trained whilst doing so.”

Annabel Turpin, Chief Executive of ARC, said: “Our apprentices are brilliant! They bring huge energy, fresh thinking and new perspectives to ARC.

“As an employer, we have reaped the benefits of investing in them so many times over, as many have gone on to fill permanent roles within the organisation. In an area where recruitment can be challenging, taking a longer term view around growing our own staff has definitely paid off.”

Creative apprentice Sarah Webster, 21 from Newton Aycliffe, began her apprenticeship at The Bowes Museum, working in front of house and then in the marketing/PR team.

She said: “University was not the right pathway for me, but I wanted a job in the arts. Creative apprenticeships seemed like the ideal route, allowing me to work but also study part time.

“I was so excited to be given the opportunity to work as a marketing assistant, as working in marketing/PR in heritage sites, museums or galleries is a particular aspiration of mine. I also love learning from the conservation team, they are always eager to share their knowledge and try to get me involved in the process.”

Since it was launched in 2008 apprentices have been employed by Sage Gateshead, Centre for Life, Beamish, Dance City, Northern Stage, The Customs House, Live Theatre, Museum of Hartlepool and Hartlepool Maritime Experience, Seven Stories, Bowes Museum, Arts Centre Washington and Tyne & Wear Museums.

If you’re interested in becoming a Creative Apprentice you can find out more here.

Photo credit: North News