At Sadler’s Wells, we are committed to nurturing tomorrow’s generation of arts professionals. Since 2015, we have collaborated with over 15 organisations and supported over 100 individuals in forging a career in the creative industries.
Access to opportunities in the cultural sector can be challenging for young people for a variety of reasons: limited in-school careers services, cuts to arts education, informal recruitment processes and lack of industry awareness and networks. Through our paid training and employment opportunities, workshop initiatives and work experience placements in different departments we aim to break down barriers to employment, address skills gaps and create entry routes into the sector.
On #InspiringFutureTheatreDay, we take a look at the ways in which Sadler’s Wells is working to inspire and equip young people to access opportunities and discover career routes in theatre, and hear from some of the young talent that we are supporting into the industry.
Internships and apprenticeships
We offer paid six-month internships and 12 to 18-month apprenticeships across different departments: from Programming, Technical & Production and Producing & Touring to Human Resources, Visitor Experience and Catering & Events. We also offer placements in our Learning & Engagement, Breakin’ Convention and Development teams. Looking ahead, we’ll also be introducing two new kitchen apprenticeship opportunities.
Human Resources, Marketing and visuals are some of the areas that I was able to learn about and it’s made me realise that you don’t have to be a dancer to be part of such a big organisation like Sadler’s Wells. It’s also made me become more open-minded about jobs overall.Maimuna Kigenyi, 10-week work experience placement student
This has been such a great experience for me because I’ve been able to learn first-hand what it’s like to work in an office setting. I’ve realised that there are so many different aspects to an organisation that exist, and that I shouldn’t be afraid to broaden my horizons.Rachael Olumuyiwa, 10-week work experience placement student
Through these opportunities, students gain a unique and comprehensive insight into how we work to make Sadler’s Wells a world-leading dance house – providing them with valuable experience and know-how from the perspective of those working behind the scenes, in our offices and in public-facing roles.
I wasn’t aware of the theatre beforehand, so it was definitely a learning experience. I would have never thought that there would be so many departments for a dance organisation, but it all makes sense now. I’ve learnt that it’s not just about the great performances and the dancers. A lot of work is done by many people with different roles and tasks which altogether achieve something great.Maimuna Kigenyi, 10-week work experience placement student
Because of my huge interest in the computing field, I also met with a few people from IT. They really helped me understand the world of IT much better, and the many different paths and issues that fall under IT. It also helped me figure out what pathway in Computer Science I wanted to go for, which I am really grateful for.Rachael Olumuyiwa, 10-week work experience placement student
Work experience placements
We now offer more work experience placements than ever before, including work experience opportunities for Key Stages 4 and 5, college and university placements (as a required part of students’ courses), work shadowing and leadership development placements. These placements allow young people to gain relevant, professional experience and knowledge, and increase their chances of finding and retaining employment that meets their aspirations. Students learn about the various aspects of Sadler’s Wells’ activities and their requirements, while gaining insight into back-stage operations and roles available across the organisation and beyond.
As a dancer, I’m very used to being on stage. The opportunity gave me great insight into what goes on behind the scenes at a theatre, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time.Milly Clarke, one-week work experience placement student
We are also involved in two initiatives with an employment and career focus: the Creative Opportunity Programme (COP) and Shared Training and Employment Programme (STEP).
Creative Opportunity Programme (COP)
COP is a two-week pre-employment programme for east Londoners aged 18-30. Through workshops and networking events led by industry professionals, the initiative aims to introduce young people to a range of opportunities and careers in the creative sector, and to provide them with the skills, insight and confidence to successfully apply for jobs. Delivered by Create Jobs, the programme has been running since 2017 and we are one of its founding partners.
Shared Training and Employment Programme (STEP)
Alongside Create Jobs, Bow Arts and London College of Fashion, we co-designed and developed STEP, a programme designed to increase representation in the creative, cultural and digital industries.
Open to young east Londoners, the paid opportunity sees participants complete two six-month internships (either in two different organisations or within two different departments of the same institution), take part in professional development workshops and work on a year-long curatorial project. Interns have the chance to build a strong peer network and, working with a specialist industry mentor, are equipped with the skills, experience and connections to begin their career in the sector.
I’ve only been here a month and feel like I’ve learnt so much already. Learning about how productions work behind the scenes, getting to see the shows, meeting and being around people who share the same interests as me and finding out just how many roles are needed in an organisation to put on shows has definitely benefitted me.Leila Jassal, STEP intern working in the Producing & Touring team
iDISCOVER STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths)
iDiscover is a week-long programme for primary schools, introducing pupils to a range of STEAM careers and experiences. As part of the initiative, members of our Technical team have been leading visits by groups of 8 to 9-year-olds, where they discuss the different jobs available in theatre and, through practical activities, explain how they apply their knowledge of STEAM subjects in their everyday jobs.
iDiscover STEAM is integral to the range of training and employment opportunities we offer at Sadler’s Wells, as we believe it is important to inspire and engage young people from a very early age, and to raise awareness among them of the variety or roles and paths available in the sector.
Reflecting with some final thoughts on their time here at Sadler’s Wells, our students said:
One thing that I love about Sadler’s Wells is the diversity that is portrayed and how people of many backgrounds come together and create something wonderful.
Maimuna Kigenyi, 10-week work experience placement student
I didn’t know much about NYDC and Sadler’s Wells, so it was really refreshing to know that they worked so closely with loads of different young people.Rachael Olumuyiwa, 10-week work experience placement student
I’m super inspired by the work that Sadler’s Wells does with their young artists and emerging choreographers. It’s such an encouraging thing to see an organisation care about and develop that.
Leila Jassal, STEP intern with Producing & Touring
Future Theatre Day is a nationwide campaign launched by the Society of London
Theatre (SOLT) and UK Theatre in 2017, showcasing the multitude of offstage
theatre careers available to young people. The campaign also recognises the
role and work of arts institutions and organisations in strengthening
connections between schools, colleges and local theatres.