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The Arts Apprenticeship - hints, tips & pointers

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Genny Cotroneo | 10:10 UK time, Thursday, 6 December 2012

As part of the wider London 2012 Festival, the Greater London Authority offered five full-time NVQ Level 2 paid apprenticeships to work on producing events, specifically outdoors. Ella Samoles-Little earned her place with the Barbican as Culture Squad Apprentice Producer and reflects on how you step from your education to your profession in the arts.

“I have always been fascinated with the arts world, and am constantly influenced by the world around me. Since the rise in degree fees, I think the best advise I can give towards getting into the cultural sector, would be to go out and seek opportunity. Be involved in any way you can and if you have the right attitude, it will get noticed.

Close up of the blog author, Ella Samoles-Little


My path started by exploring photography and film at A-level, I loved experimenting with the visual messages you can create in both mediums. This pushed me in the direction of filmmaking. I studied a HNC in media practice, which had a focus on production. Although I enjoyed specific areas of the degree a lot - scriptwriting and directing were always my favourite – I did feel that some of the creative degrees now stop you tackling what you have passion for in your own way. Not everyone who is interested in making films – from the horror head, to the documentarian – will learn and take information in the same way.

I didn’t finish my degree as I wanted to explore different routes and I came across Changemakers, a charity that focuses on the development of young people and helping ideas grow. I was fortunate to became part of their year scheme which developed my campaign skills, presentation and speech as well as giving me access to a personal mentoring scheme to help develop projects of my own. It was inspiring to be amongst like-minded people that wanted to make a difference.

That is where I got the chance to curate a community project with a £350 grant. Working with the people around me, I wanted to capture ‘The London Life’ through young people from 18-25 using Film, Photography, Music and Poetry. The project was a great success, and it was really interesting to see what people had to say. Also, the amount of support and involvement that was on offer was amazing.

The scheme was over and the buzz was fading from the night we pulled off. “Where to next?” was my biggest question. So, to answer this question, I turned to the internet and found the following websites useful:
- Arts Council Arts Jobs is a great way to see what work is out there
- Networking sites such as LinkedIn will help you to meet the right people.

Then to find spaces that aren’t being used or on offer to use as a work space/ office/ rehearsal space for any project you have in mind somewhereto is an organisation which can help. See more information on their website.

Apprenticeships are now becoming widely available which is great to see. It’s not only the increase in university fees that makes me a firm believer in all apprenticeship schemes. Participation on a scheme allows you to work and learn in a professional environment and really gain an insight into working within the arts. The Independent Theatre Council offer great short courses to help develop any areas you wish to know more about.

If there is any advice I can give, and what I urge you to do, is: Get out there! Speak to people with the same interest, combine ideas, get networking and get involved. Do some research into companies that produce the kind of work you are interested in and approach them about work experience opportunities. Meet people within the industry and be pro-active. And don’t forget that networking tools such as twitter and blog pages are a great way to communicate with the world and follow people that inspire you.

Find your drive, and hit the road because the opportunities are out there!


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