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Apprenticeship scheme launched by off West End theatres

Apprentices on the new scheme launched by London Theatre Consortium. Photo: Peter van den Berg
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Battersea Arts Centre, the Lyric Hammersmith and the Bush Theatre are among thirteen of London’s off West End venues that have launched an apprenticeship scheme aimed at young people who have not been to university.

Each of the theatres, which are collectively known as the London Theatre Consortium, will take on at least one apprentice to help create a “new route” into the industry for people aged 16 to 24.

Beginning this week, 21 apprentices will start the one-year programme with work placements at the theatres, for which they will be paid the national minimum wage.

They will also be able to obtain a creative apprenticeship qualification as part of the scheme in either venue operations, technical theatre or community arts. Training for this will be provided by LeSoCo college, a merger between Lewisham College and Southwark College.

The two-year programme will provide a total of 38 apprenticeships. It has been partly funded by £80,000 from Arts Council England’s Creative Employment Programme, which is a £15 million fund aimed at tackling youth unemployment. ACE’s investment has triggered further investment from LTC’s members and other organisations totalling around £500,000.

Jessica Hepburn, executive director of the Lyric Hammersmith and vice-chair of the LTC, said: “The scheme is aimed at people who have not been to university. Our industry at the moment is saturated with people who have been to university who can then generally afford to work for nothing to get the experience to get their foot in the door.”

She added: “This is about trying to change that and providing a new route into our industry, which we need partly because we want our workforce to reflect the city we live in and also because people from different backgrounds will bring different experiences to enable us to develop new artists, audiences and markets. It’s about building the sector in the long term.”

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