Having provided sector-leading apprenticeships for 14 years, the Royal Opera House (ROH) has announced that it will introduce eight new apprenticeships for the start of its new season, which marks the Covent Garden-based opera house’s first full season for more than a year.
Since 2007, the ROH – the largest employer of artists in the UK after the BBC – has supported and trained 66 entry-level apprentices in the production and technical departments. The success of these positions meant the scheme was then expanded to include areas such as IT, communications and finance. This year the opera house’s roster of apprenticeships roles has further grown to include positions in event management and social media.
The new apprenticeships include roles in technical theatre, hair, wigs and make-up, scenic carpentry, costume, social media and events. The positions are all paid and offered on a fixed-term two-year contract. This year’s apprentices will commence their training in September 2021, graduating in August 2023.
ROH Apprentice Manager Bendy Ashfield commented: “The devastation to the arts and the loss of careers in the creative industries following the pandemic has been tragic. With that as our backdrop, we have worked incredibly hard to ensure that the talent pipeline and apprentice opportunities remain a priority.
“We are delighted to announce these new apprenticeships for 2021, and are proud that we have expanded these opportunities to ensure communications and events careers can flourish. It’s fantastic to be working alongside the very best arts industry professionals to provide much-needed training opportunities and we hope that this new set of entry-level opportunities will help create a diverse, highly skilled creative workforce long into the future.”
The scheme provides high-quality vocational training and is supported by some of the most skilled practitioners in the UK arts industry. Apprentices study for a relevant recognised qualification, alongside paid on-the-job training for two years, ensuring that when they leave the programme they are job and industry ready.
The aim is to encourage and maintain a diverse workforce that can thrive in the creative industries.
With guided support, the apprentices will develop the knowledge, skills and hands-on experience they need to undertake long-term and fulfilling careers in the arts.
Scenic art apprentice Danny said: “The working environment is fantastic. Everyone is so friendly, and it is great to have the opportunity to learn my trade from professionals at the top of their game. I still cannot quite believe how lucky I am. Being chosen as the scenic artist apprentice was nothing short of miraculous for me and my future career. I am so pleased to rise out of bed each morning knowing what fun lies ahead of me in the day, even if it is a 5am wake up. Surely that is when you know you are in the right job.”
Almost 90% of graduates from ROH’s apprenticeship programme have gone on to pursue successful careers working across the globe on wide-ranging, high-profile arts projects across live events, theatre, TV and film. Many return to work full time at the opera house, or take up freelance roles, after completing their two-year training.
Former stage engineering apprentice Priya said: “My apprenticeship has given me the confidence to do all the things I’ve done since, from working on The X Factor set with Scott Fleary Productions to planning a volunteering trip overseas to use my skills to build houses for those most in need. I don’t even bite my nails anymore, that’s how much I’ve grown in confidence!”
Former technical theatre apprentice James added: “To sum up the last two years, it has been a rollercoaster of emotions, challenges and very steep learning curves. I’ve had the chance to work with some of the best in the business, on some of the newest and biggest shows and some of the oldest and most prestigious. I’ve made some great friends, and the opera house, while teaching me a lot as a technician, has also taught me many things about myself and opened so many opportunities.”
Lauren Taylor is a flys and automation mechanical engineering apprentice, learning about the programming and safe operation of the power-flying system which moves scenery, lighting and anything else that needs to be suspended over the stage (Sim Canetty-Clarke).