Meet The Factory Academy Apprentices

Five local people, aged 22 to 25, have been employed as Creative Venue Technician apprentices in a new scheme launched as part of the Factory Academy.

Two apprentices have been employed by the Royal Exchange Theatre, one at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU), one at HOME and another by The Lowry.

Developed in partnership with training providers and arts organisations in the region, the new two-year apprenticeships will offer on-the-job training alongside development and skills training.

The apprentices will play an active part in the technical operation of the venues – working on elements, such as lighting, audio and scene changes, and using a variety of tools to make, install and maintain scenery and other equipment.

A key part of the vision to put skills and training opportunities at the heart of The Factory, The Factory Academy will deliver a range of apprenticeships and training opportunities over the next few years, with the aim of diversifying the workforce in the creative industries.

We caught up with the apprentices to find out how they are getting on.

 

How did you feel when you found out that you had been accepted onto the apprenticeship?

Zeph: When I found out I got the apprenticeship I was very happy and so relieved that I didn’t have to go back to my old job. I’m really looking forward to learning new stuff. It’s the best of both worlds in a way because you get to learn but don’t have the stress of university and you get hands-on experience whilst making money.

Eloise: I was so surprised, I thought someone must be pranking me! But I am so excited to get started. I think I’m most looking forward to the variety of shows that I’m going to get to work on.

Arber: When I got told that I had been accepted onto the apprenticeship obviously I was very happy, but you don’t really understand that you have become part of something until you really experience it. Yesterday we all went to see a show and that’s when I thought, ‘this is it, this is what I want to do, and I’m here at the start of something.’

Halima: When I was offered the apprenticeship I was so happy. I am really excited to learn new skills in such an exciting upbeat environment.

 

 

What has been your experience so far?

Eloise: I’m doing my apprenticeship with The Lowry. So far I have been shown around the building and introduced to everyone. It’s a much bigger building than I thought it was. I’ve been shown the backstage areas and they’ve talked me through the different skills like lighting and sound that I’m going to learn.

Louis: My apprenticeship is with The Royal Exchange Theatre which is also where I did my traineeship. I did all kinds of light, stage and sound work in the lead up to Gypsy during my traineeship.

Halima: My traineeship was also at The Royal Exchange but before then I had never even been in the building. During the traineeship I helped out on the show Gypsy backstage on the lighting and stage management. I wouldn’t have applied for the apprenticeship without that experience – I didn’t even really know what a creative venue technician was or did.

Zeph: I did my placement at HOME. I had been in the cinemas there, but I’d never been to the theatre. On the traineeship I did a lot of shadowing of different people in different departments and sitting in watching tech rehearsals. Everyone was so welcoming and friendly.

Arber: I am at Manchester Metropolitan University. I didn’t know anything about Manchester Metropolitan before the traineeship – it was a real surprise for me to find out that is was so big and they had so much going on.

 

 

What attracted you to The Factory Academy apprenticeship?

Halima Arteh: Before this apprenticeship, I had been in various retail jobs. I went to university to do Computer Science but I dropped out. I read about The Factory Academy and I thought it sounded great because I’ve always wanted to get into the arts but have never known how.

Zeph Deakin: I actually worked in a lab before and it was quite stressful. It wasn’t what I actually wanted to be doing. I did the trainee placement at HOME which is where I have also ended up doing my apprenticeship which is great. The experience really solidified my want to be involved in the arts.

Eloise Bickle: Before I applied for this apprenticeship I was working as Front of House. I wanted to apply for the apprenticeship because I feel like there is not that many opportunities for people my age.

Arber Binjaku: I moved to Manchester from Albania five years ago. I did plumbing for three years at Trafford College and I didn’t like it. I did the Factory Academy traineeship last year and was placed at Manchester Metropolitan. It was a great experience – I did a lot of things I had never done or seen before in my life but at the same time it all felt very familiar. I decided to also do my apprenticeship there because I enjoyed it so much.

Louis Fryman: Before the apprenticeship, I was working as a chef. Working in a venue was something that I had always wanted to do but I hadn’t thought it would be possible for me.

 

What are your impressions of The Factory?

Arber: The Factory is the future. This is it. It’s not going to be just a theatre, it will be a place where people can come and hang out. It’s going to be huge and I assume with what MIF has done before it will produce some amazing work.

Zeph: I’m interested to see the scope of stuff that will go on there. It’s very big so there’s got to be some pretty impressive stuff going on there. It will be cool to feel part of it once it’s finished.

Eloise: I think the Factory will allow people to think bigger and more imaginatively about what they can create in Manchester.

Louis: It will undoubtedly be a really significant addition to Manchester because of its sheer size and versatility.

 

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