From award winner to awards judge

 7 October 2019

Holly Foskett won the Northern Ireland Apprentice of the Year Award in 2017 when she was an apprentice with the Black Box, one of the principal arts and entertainment venues in Belfast. We caught up with her to discuss her experience of working in the creative industries and her new role as a judge.

Holly's apprenticeship with Black Box helped her to gain entry into the sector. She now works for the company full-time.
Holly's apprenticeship with Black Box helped her to gain entry into the sector. She now works for the company full-time.

Nominate now

Now entering its fifth year, the Northern Ireland Creative & Cultural Skills Awards were established to recognise organisations and individuals working to support young talent to build careers in the cultural sector. The route into the creative industries is often challenging for young people and Holly was no exception.

She said, "I always wanted to work in the arts but when I completed my photography course, our tutor told the class that we would be lucky if five per cent of us end up working in the creative industries. He said everyone else would work in retail!”’

Alternative entry routes

However, Holly was not deterred. She found her entry into the sector through an apprenticeship with Black Box.

“It is still difficult for young people to get that first step into the sector without any experience. The apprenticeship was perfect for me and came just at the right time.

The Black Box hired me on my potential and let me grow into the role. They were incredibly supportive and made me feel like part of the family in no time.

“The Black Box hired me on my potential and let me grow into the role. They were incredibly supportive and made me feel like part of the family in no time.”

During her time as an apprentice Holly won the Apprentice of the Year Award in 2017. “It meant a lot to me and my employers. I never expected to win but receiving the award was amazing! While it was an award for me, it felt like a celebration for the Black Box too.”

Building a career

After her apprenticeship Holly took up the permanent role of Administration and Community Officer at the Black Box. She spends her days liaising with clients, diary management for upcoming events, managing the box office, managing communications and promotion as well as being heavily involved in their outreach programmes. 

”I absolutely love it. It is a very busy job, but I am always meeting new people and being involved in new projects.”

A unique perspective

The Northern Ireland Creative & Cultural Skills Awards are about celebrating the people who are working hard to develop the future of the cultural sector; developing skills and making it more inclusive. Holly’s experience as an apprentice establishing her career in the sector will give her a unique perspective on the young people nominated and the businesses who support them.

It was so exciting when I won my award and I am so interested to see what talented organisations and individuals are up for the awards this year.

Holly says of the awards, “I am very excited to be involved in the awards as a judge this year! It is a brand-new experience but one I am very much looking forward to. It was so exciting when I won my award and I am so interested to see what talented organisations and individuals are up for the awards this year.

“Without the experience I was provided, I would have found it very difficult to get a job in the cultural sector. We need to recognise and celebrate those who are making a difference.”

Northern Ireland Awards 2019

Nominations for this year’s awards are open until 5pm on Friday 11 October and we're looking forward for a wide-range of applications. Whether you're part of a large company or a freelancer please do get involved! Applications should be submitted using our online nominations form. 

Full information on the categories available and how to enter can be found on the Northern Ireland Creative & Cultural Skills Awards page.

Winners will be announced at this year’s awards ceremony on Thursday 5 December in Belfast Metropolitan College, E3 campus. We'll be releasing tickets for the awards event soon, so make sure to sign up to our newsletter to be the first to find out they’re available.


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