Gallowglass – the UK’s leading provider of event crewing staff – turns 25 this year, and the company is celebrating by announcing an exciting training initiative aimed at helping young people build solid, sustainable and rewarding careers in the arts and events industry, whoever they are and wherever they are from. And that, says founder and chairman Paul Grecian, is good news for the entire sector.
“We are a quarter of a century old now, and we have so much experience and expertise,” says Grecian. “Throughout its history, Gallowglass has always employed young people from diverse and disadvantaged backgrounds, encouraged them to flourish and prosper, then provided them with jobs that will see them through their working lives, whether that is within the company or elsewhere in the industry. Now, we have decided to formalise that process into a national training scheme.”
The way the scheme works is simple. Young people join Gallowglass as probationary crew, working in a range of roles on a variety of events across the arts and events industry. After spending several months with the company, they are offered the opportunity to specialise in an area that inspires them – anything from project managing large sporting events, to engineering sound for small-scale theatre shows.
“They might say that they love working in TV studios, so we will make sure they get more opportunities to do that, and the appropriate training to back that experience up,” says Grecian. “Or they might say they love working with lighting, so we will make sure they get the chance to work and train in lighting.”
“By the time someone has spent five years with Gallowglass, they have gained so much experience and so much knowledge that they have a job for life if they want it,” Grecian continues. “Some choose to stay with the company, either on site or in one of our offices. Others leave for different opportunities and different challenges.
A lot are subsequently employed by one of our clients, because they have seen our crew work and want a share of that expertise.”
The system kills several birds with one stone, according to Grecian. It means Gallowglass can keep supplying flexible and reliable crews to a range of events, large and small, national and international. This creates a conveyor belt of experienced professionals entering the arts and events sector, helping to solve the issue of skills shortages across the industry.
It also means those from disadvantaged backgrounds are given the chance to work on exciting and innovative projects. And, crucially for Grecian, it helps tackle the problem of youth unemployment – something particularly close to his heart.
“When I left school, I was drifting, desperately looking for work that would give me some kind of direction,” he says. “Fortunately I found it, and I managed to turn things around. That is what I want this initiative to provide for the young people of today.”
“Youth unemployment is a huge problem across the country, and it is only going to get worse because of the coronavirus pandemic,” he continues. “I want our training programme to provide a seamless transition for young people from school to professional training to long-term employment. That’s the dream.”
Since 1996, Gallowglass has grown from a small team in a single office to an international company with nine hubs around the UK, and further facilities in Barcelona and the Middle East. It has worked with more than 8,000 clients at over 23,000 venues, providing more than six million man-hours to events around the world – from San Francisco and Shanghai, to Aberdeen and Abu Dhabi.
Chances are that you have been to an event run by a Gallowglass team, even if you were not aware of it. The company has helped stage some of the biggest concerts, conferences, shows and sports tournaments in the world – including Glastonbury Festival, the 2015 Rugby World Cup, and the London and Rio de Janeiro Olympics – and regularly works at some of the most famous theatres and TV studios in the country.
There are three branches to its business: event crewing, health and safety, and training. Gallowglass can provide experienced and qualified labour to make sure an event runs smoothly from concept to completion, ensure that the event is compliant with all relevant health and safety regulations and, alongside all of that, it can design and deliver a variety of training courses.
“We set out to revolutionise the events industry, and that’s exactly what we’ve done over the past 25 years,” says Grecian. “We have always been at the cutting edge of the sector, driving new ideas forward. And this training programme is the latest in a long line of initiatives that have changed the industry for the better.”
Right now, Gallowglass is actively looking for more clients and collaborators who share the company’s vision, particularly within the world of theatre and performing arts. The company already works with leading institutions, such as the Royal Albert Hall, the Royal Shakespeare Company and Historic Royal Palaces, and has a close relationship with leading technical specialists White Light. It is hoping to connect with more venues of all shapes and sizes over the coming years.
“Lots of industry leaders are already seeing the benefits of working with Gallowglass,” Grecian says. “They can rest easy in the knowledge that their events are being run by a team of experienced, qualified professionals, and they also know that, thanks to this initiative, they are investing in young people who might well go on to join them in a few years. It is as though they are getting two services for the price of one – event crewing and staff training.”
And, because Gallowglass has nine hubs across the country, it can partner with clients and other companies wherever they are in the UK – from Scotland to the South West – to employ young people from the local community and invest in their careers. It is a long-term strategy, says Grecian, designed to provide opportunities for young people nationwide, to promote diversity in the arts, and to safeguard the future of the entire events industry.
“There are big problems at the moment in the world of arts and events,” says Grecian. “There are skill shortages, there is a lack of diversity, and there are very few opportunities for disadvantaged young people out there. Gallowglass has done what it has always done by coming up with a revolutionary solution to those problems. And now, we want people to help us deliver that solution.”
For more information: gallowglass.com