Taking on apprentices at Greenwich Theatre

 27 September 2012

Greenwich Theatre were always interested in apprenticeships, but worried that, as a small theatre, they didn't have the resources to train someone on a technical theatre pathway.

Creative & Cultural Skills introduced them to some creative apprenticeship options other than technical theatre.

Promoting work-based learning

Greenwich Theatre has always strived to use theatre to tackle the barriers preventing young people from accessing education, employment or training.

Their programming team work hard to arrange a broad selection of productions to satisfy as wide an audience as possible. They encourage training and professional development for all staff - a perfect apprentice employer!

Greenwich Theatre has always strived to tackle the barriers holding young people back from education, employment or training.

Indeed, the Artistic and Executive Directors had always embraced work-based learning, and were keen to make this a reality there.

But when Creative & Cultural Skills started talking to them, they found that they were struggling to make an apprenticeship work for them.

Choosing an apprenticeship framework

They were aware of the Technical Theatre Apprenticeship. But they felt that, by its very nature, a young person doing that role at Greenwich would require more management and resource than they were able to offer.

“Whilst Greenwich Theatre, like most arts organisations, is always in need of an extra pair of hands, we needed to ensure we were equipped to give an apprentice the attention and guidance that they needed to grow within the organisation.”

Creative & Cultural Skills didn't want them to give up on something like this, which they were passionate about supporting.

They talked them through some other options, including the other creative apprenticeship frameworks that were available. Might they be able to make an apprentice work in another part of their organisation?

Working front of house

Working with our team, they quickly identified a space in front of house. Here, they could offer a successful apprentice not only a permanent job but also a progression route to Duty Manager.

“Hannah exceeded our expectations in ability, enthusiasm and commitment,"

This department was also somewhere where they could properly support the apprentice in their role, without needing to take someone away from their day job to supervise.

Their apprentice, Hannah, was a great success. “She exceeded our expectations in terms of her ability, enthusiasm and commitment," said Susan Winter, Producer at the Theatre.

"Her confidence also increased rapidly from week to week."

Hannah's career looks set to go from strength to strength: on completing the apprenticeship, she went on to take a place on the two-year foundation degree course in Technical Theatre & Stage Management at RADA

Views on apprenticeships

The Theatre also found that the apprenticeship came with additional benefits for staff.

"The addition of an enthusiastic, practically-led young person whose skills can be developed to compliment the specific culture of your arts organisation has obvious benefits," said Susan.

"And as for the bigger picture: we are delighted to be part of an initiative that acknowledges more accessible alternative pathways into the cultural sectors.

"We continue to strive towards this ideal as part of our creative learning remit.”

Working with the apprenticeship training service

Greenwich Theatre became the first organisation to use our ATA service and ask us to employ their apprentice on their behalf.

We were able to support them throughout, to ensure that the whole process was as smooth as possible.

Today, staff at the Theatre are overwhelmingly positive in their views on apprenticeships:

"While the majority of our employees have been working in the arts for many years, it's beneficial for staff to be able to see their own position and role within the organisation through the eyes of a young person starting out in the industry," their Producer, Susan Winter, told us.

"It creates a renewed sense of enthusiasm and staff morale.

"I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the same to other companies."

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