13 January 2015 at 2.06pm | Comment on this article
The walls of the Amphitheatre corridor at the Royal Opera House are currently adorned with an exhibition dedicated to the skill, passion and craft of our apprentices.
The Royal Opera House Apprenticeship Scheme offers young people the opportunity to learn on the job in a world-class organization. We currently employ 17 apprentices across 11 different departments including Costume, Armoury and Scenic Art. The positions are restricted to backstage, practical areas instead of performance roles to encourage a growth of backstage skills and opportunities across the industry.
The scheme has been running since 2007 and past apprentices have gone on to work at the National Theatre, on the costumes for the London 2012 Opening Ceremony, at Factory Settings scenic workshops, with Turner prize-winning artist Chris Ofili and continuing to work at the Royal Opera House.
Bendy Ashfield, Apprenticeships Manager at the Royal Opera House believes that the scheme will create a new generation of experts across the sector: 'We believe that success is supporting people to finish their apprenticeship ‘job-ready’ and go on to careers in the industry. That way, we’re providing future staff for the industry as a whole, not just the Royal Opera House.'
The scheme not only benefits the individuals but also the host departments: 'We love having an apprentice here' says a member of the Royal Opera House Armoury team 'They are a fantastic addition to our team. We can share our passion for theatre and craft skills with them, and their enthusiasm and inquisitiveness keeps us on our toes! It's a great transfer of experience and ideas on both parts.'
As well as the professional training and support, our apprentices receive pastoral support from the Royal Opera House. We have hired a number of young people who are enjoying their first experiences of living away from home so it is important to make sure that all our apprentices feel supported in every aspect of their time with us. Bendy adds that 'We’re always particularly proud of those apprentices who need a bit of extra support but who go on to amazing jobs within the sector.'
Our apprentices often find that they experience personal as well as professional growth during their apprenticeship, with one former apprentice telling us that: 'Taking part in this apprenticeship and working for the Opera House has helped me grow as a person and has given me more confidence to know that I can achieve things, if I work at them. It has shown me a world I never knew... With these skills that I have learnt here and the knowledge I have gained, it has opened my eyes to new opportunities for the future.'
While we look for our apprentices to show a clear passion for their chosen area, our recruitment focusses more on enthusiasm and commitment than experience. We will be recruiting in May for the next round of apprenticeships. Find out more about the scheme here.
To see the exhibition and find out more about coming to the Royal Opera House, check out our ‘Visit Us’ page.
Apprenticeships at the Royal Opera House are generously supported by the Derek Butler Trust, Jasper Conran OBE, the Gordon Foundation and Thurrock Borough Council.