Get Into Arts, Culture and Heritage


Josie writes about her experience of a Prince’s Trust project to help young people gain employment, skills and opportunities in the arts in Plymouth.

Josie Hartnett has been participating in a project to help young people gain employment, new skills and opportunities through arts organisations in Plymouth. Run by The Prince’s Trust and in collaboration with Plymouth City Council, Plymouth Culture and Plymouth’s arts, heritage and cultural organisations, young people have been getting to grips with training and placements across the city. Josie writes about her experience of this project.

The Prince’s Trust helps 13-30 year olds who are unemployed or struggling at school to improve upon their lives. Three in four young people supported by The Prince’s Trust move into work, education or training. All programmes are free and help to give young people the skills they need to succeed, both in terms of confidence and motivation, and work related skills such as CV writing or placement opportunities. Many young people involved have faced issues such as homelessness, mental health, leaving care or have been in trouble with the law.

The course I am on is the ‘Get Into Programme for the Arts, Culture and Heritage.’ This was the first year this particular course has run and will hopefully continue and be as popular as the enterprise programme. The job centre advertised and prompted some people to join the course and 16 of us participated, most in our 20s with different levels of experience and educational levels. If you know little about how to get into a particular industry or want to trial it before committing, then this programme is a convenient way to do so. The staff running the programme really get to know you, knowing everyone by name and their interests, which shows when it comes to being assigned a placement.

When told my placement was with Plymouth Culture I admit I was a little confused. As a person who knows very little about the arts I was unsure why they thought this placement the most suitable for me, and I knew nothing of the organisation unlike the Theatre Royal or Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery which are both larger and I have an interest in. However, after only 8 days it makes far more sense.

Plymouth Culture were busy with an Ambition for Excellence funding application for my first week, meaning you do see the reality of work life. Instead of focusing on this, Plymouth Culture’s Heather Sabel and I explored the city and I came to understand how gifted the city is in terms of art, culture and heritage. This was a good networking tool as I visited companies such as Plymouth Arts Centre, Plymouth Music Zone, Devonport Guildhall, both theatres and both museums – many of these places for the first time. Because of this time to explore and understand Plymouth’s cultural scene, the meetings in the second half of the placement made far more sense and names could be matched to people and companies. I sat in on the final meeting for the Ambition for Excellence application which was interesting to see how group collaboration was working. In addition, I sat in on the marketing and social media meetings, and a finance phone call which showed the difference in admin work.

This was a well-rounded placement as I had the opportunity to understand how to construct and progress a funding proposal, both smaller and large scale, looked at social media, visited some of the partners and have started to understand how Brexit will affect the arts.

After the placement stage we return to reflect on whether we have grown over the three week period and if our perceptions have changed. There is also a small celebration event, which friends and family can attend to hear you talk about what you have achieved. The Prince’s Trust organise interviews from employers with vacancies in the area for our final day. If you are a person who is unable to get past the application stage this is a great opportunity to show off interviewing skills and knowledge of the industry.

Overall I think this is a programme that all participants will gain from. Hopefully we will all come out of this with jobs, but if not we have all gained a first aid certificate, improved our CVs and have learnt some new practical skills, and most people seem to be enjoying their placements so will have the potential for a reference or examples to talk about in future interviews. In addition, for up to 6 months after the course you can choose to have further support in terms of a mentor.

Josie assisting with workshops at Plymouth City Museum

Charlotte at work in the Peninsula Arts gallery

The 14 young people working on ‘Get Into Arts, Culture and Heritage’ on placement at Plymouth City Museum

Team building exercises

Plymouth City Museum’s Adam Milford providing a training session

On placement at Theatre Royal Plymouth

Joe Meldrum from Plymouth Culture says, “It was great to work with The Prince’s Trust on the ‘Get Into Arts, Culture and Heritage’ programme. I believe this is the first time that this programme and arts organisations have joined up, and I’d like to say a huge thank you to the Prince’s Trust, Plymouth City Council’s Sam Jackman and all the organisations in Plymouth who supported placements and opportunities. This has been an incredibly useful project not just for all the young people involved, but for the organisations too – I’ve since discussed with two major arts venues how they can use similar models to recruit and train new staff. It was fantastic to work with the very talented Josie (who did her placement with us) who, alongside all the other young people on the programme, will go onto great things in the future.

It’s really important that arts organisations support these kind of career and skills development opportunities for young people who come from a background which makes accessing these opportunities difficult, yet are often the best candidates for a lot of the roles on offer. Entry-level roles at arts organisations are often filled by students who are sometimes only available throughout term-time, rather than someone who is searching for work and wants to progress within a company. The ‘Get Into Arts, Culture and Heritage’ programme has already changed the way arts organisations in the city, including Plymouth Culture, are thinking about recruitment. The skills, determination and dedication shown by the young people on this programme were exemplary – it’s proving that to work in the arts it’s not necessarily about having a qualification in an arts-based subject, it’s about being willing to learn, work hard and organisations providing the opportunities to enable people to try this. Within a week, Josie (who doesn’t have any prior experience in the arts) was really helping our small team by researching transatlantic funding opportunities and writing reviews. It was so useful to get her perspective on the projects we were working on – we’re sometimes ‘blinkered’ by being too involved and Josie’s viewpoints were extremely helpful. I know a lot of the other organisations who hosted placements were full of praise for the young people who worked with them.”

“We were really proud to support this programme and are keen to keep supporting this and similar projects happening in Plymouth. Once again, a huge thanks go out to The Prince’s Trust, Plymouth City Council, all the amazing arts organisations who hosted and supported placements and to all the young people involved.”

The Prince’s Trust’s Programme Executive Jason Stone says, “This programme has enabled local young people to get involved in arts and culture in Plymouth and really build on the success of what is already happening in this wonderful city. It’s fantastic that we were able to place so many young people into placements with organisations that are involved in shaping the culture of Plymouth and allow them to gain hands of work experience during this time. We hope to continue this work into 2017 and hope to support more young people through Arts, Culture and Heritage.”