With another Introduction to the Creative Industries programme ended, we caught up with the people who make it such a rewarding and inspiring experience for us too – the participants.
The part-time course returned earlier this year thanks to an award from Norfolk Community Foundation through the New Anglia LEP Community Challenge.
It’s for people aged 18-30 who are interested in a creative career but need some help getting started.
Tailored to participants’ interests and needs, it includes group training sessions, industry expert talks, visits to local creative organisations and individual mentoring sessions. All designed to help them into creative jobs or further training.
Q: What did you get out of the programme from a personal point of view?
Ruby: Definitely confidence within myself, knowing that I am not alone being new to the creative industries. Also, knowledge of how to get myself out there, talking to new people and saying yes to things. Any kind of experience that comes my way I now say yes to, this is the time to do that for sure.
Arthur: The programme took me from a place where I was extremely stuck and refocused me completely. I had done nothing for a year and then I came across the course.
I’m now going on to do a Level 4 course in September. I was able to access some counselling through The Garage which really helped me. I took part in a show and had a lot of fantastic work experience as a result of the ICI. The course kind of fixed me to be honest.
Molly: Above everything, I got confidence. A lot of it. It was amazing to be with a bunch of creative people in a room together, making friends as well, bouncing ideas off people.
I was feeling unconfident beforehand but learning practical things I could do to support me to get a creative career really helped me. A group of us still hang out together from the course, we still socialise and go to gigs.
Q: Has the programme helped you with your career? Training, education, work experience, self-employment
Ruby: It has helped me for sure. From things like learning about how to invoice, helping me with my CV, encouraging me not to be scared to talk to or email people who are quite high up in organisations. I learnt that everyone is human, people are happy to help.
My mentor helped me look at further education programmes relevant to my creative interests. I applied to go to Access and got an unconditional place on a Level 3 course in Music Performance. This course gave me the confidence to do this.
During the course we had a talk from someone at the Norfolk and Norwich Festival. They talked about different opportunities and jobs. I applied and I was successful in getting work on the bar and publicity team throughout the festival which was great experience.
This summer I am also working freelance for a company who tours festivals and events with the Reality Arcade. I have also found work front of house at St George’s Theatre and will start teaching drama to children in September.
Arthur: During my work experience I learned the basics of how to teach Years 5 and 6. How to engage them in activities. Also, some key stuff about discipline. Really helpful for if I pursue the teaching route.
Both the work experience and coming into The Garage each week not only helped me build confidence. It has helped me learn how to work with people in a professional environment, how to conduct myself. I also had a job interview and although I did not get the job it was a great experience to have that practice.
I start an HNC in September. I’m looking forward to being taught at this level because I have not had that before. It’s going to be the perfect preparation to get me back into the swing of things and to be part of creative projects, which is still my primary career goal.
Molly: Absolutely. I am currently employed as a communications officer which I see as a creative job. While I was on the course, I got the interview for the job. The sessions helped me to prepare for the interview and to go into it with confidence. The sessions helped me to identify my skills and articulate them to the employer in my interview.
I am also doing other things. I am now teaching singing lessons and the course helped because it gave me the confidence to do this. I am also doing assisting music directing. Again, the improvement in my confidence helped me to go for this opportunity.
I have shared some of the activities we did on the course with a friend who is looking for a creative job and it has really helped them too.
The course works. There are so many options these days. Some of them are so big you don’t know where to start or how to tackle them. This course makes you break it down into achievable tasks. They should have taught us this stuff at university, it’s a really good resource, it’s important.
Q: What part of the programme did you find most useful?
Ruby: It was all beautiful, for me especially. It was all useful.
The industry expert talks were great. Meeting and listening to people who were high up in their jobs in the creative industries, they spoke to us like we could do that ourselves and it was great to ask them any questions.
The mentoring for sure was really useful and I liked the group sessions. We were all so different, but we worked so well together. I’ve never been in a group where everyone was so different, but we all fitted together like a puzzle.
Arthur: By far the mentoring sessions, because that’s what helped open the doors for me. I did enjoy the group sessions, they were interesting. But the mentoring really helped me to refocus where I want to be going, what I want to be doing and gave me access to things I wouldn’t have had otherwise.
Molly: I loved all of them. Sam, my mentor, has been amazing helping me figure out what I need to do, to have some back up.
I really learnt from the industry expert talks. I wasn’t always necessarily interested in working in the specific creative area that the speaker came from, but it was interesting hearing all their stories. I don’t want to work in the circus, but it was inspiring hearing Massi’s story. His outlook on life, that was my favourite.
Q: Is there anything you felt was missing from the programme that would be useful to have been included?
Ruby: An end of course show at The Garage would be good for learners to show their creative side and to have a taster of practically putting something together, even just a show for each other.
Arthur: For the most part it was pretty much everything you could need.
One thing did occur to me on the days of the industry expert talks. It would have been cool to have a workshop / taster from the deliverer, especially where the speaker was a practicing artist.
Having creative workshops might expose people to arts they have not tried before and could be helpful or inspiring.
Molly: For me I feel I got everything out of the course that I needed to. Maybe it would be nice to do some creative things on the course, maybe a day where we could work on them together.
Maybe an ongoing spin-off project where there is a drop-in space once a month for people to work together on projects. Where young creatives can look for funding for their own project and go on to execute it. A Young Associate Artists Programme too.
Q: Before the programme what was your status in terms of work?
Ruby: Zero hours contracts in nothing I wanted to do.
Molly: I was unemployed.
Q: What is your status now in term of work?
Ruby: I will be a full-time student in September with part-time freelance work at St George’s Theatre as a drama teacher. I am also starting to teach guitar.
Arthur: Unemployed but less panicky about this. I will be a full-time student from September, and I now feel more confident about getting a part-time job and less nervous about going for interviews.
Molly: I am employed part time as a communications officer at Saint Peter Mancroft.
It is creative. I am making posters, banners, I drew something that was put on a banner, I’m printing images, I’m using my visual communications skills in the job. I am writing, I do the newsletter and the articles on the website. I am being used for my creative and visual skills.
I really enjoy it, it’s a bit crazy sometimes. Sometimes it’s quiet, other weeks there are lots of deadlines. Sometimes I don’t have time for my own work – part-time musician, part-time artist. But I’m getting there slowly with the balance.
Q: What would you say to someone considering signing up to the programme?
Ruby: One hundred percent do it, a thousand million trillion percent. I was nervous as I had just left school, but it was great. I am all still friends with the people I met. I’ve gained so many experiences and my confidence has improved so much.
Arthur: I would say definitely do it. It’s 100% worth your time, especially if you feel a bit stuck or lost.
Molly: Just go for it, the worst that could happen is you don’t like it. But there is something for everyone. We were a diverse group, all into different things. But you will get something out of it. You will connect with one of the areas, there’s no downside to going out meeting people and doing things when you’re creative.
Q: Any other comments?
Ruby: I think Yax (Adam Yaxley, our engagement and inclusion manager) should be there more. He and Carrie (Mansfield, our executive producer) work so well together. You’re so fun. Yax could just say one sentence about cheese and onion crisps or something and we would go on to have a deep conversation about crisps. He would always see the other side to things.
It was a really safe space. We all felt comfortable from day one and accepted each other’s differences. We could talk to you guys at any time.
It’s the perfect course for someone who might not know what they want to do next, or how to get going. It provides so much information about how to get going with a creative career with great advice from the industry experts who give the talks. Like I said, the mentoring sessions are great for anyone feeling a little bit lost.
Molly: It’s a really good course, I’d recommend it to anyone. I’ve got a job now which I wouldn’t have got. The Garage is such an inclusive environment. Anywhere else I would have felt more intimidated but here it’s very safe and inclusive.
Our free Introduction to the Creative Industries Programme returns next year. Signing up to it was one of the best decisions Juno Evans has made. She said:
When she lost her retail job because of Covid, drama graduate Juno Evans decided to sign up for our new, free Introduction to the Creative