Under 25s in Rotherham are being given a unique opportunity to develop their skills and make their mark in the creative and cultural industries in South Yorkshire, thanks to a dedicated Children’s Capital of Culture upskilling programme.
The six-month-long paid traineeships are enabling 55 young people interested in a creative career path to gain experience at some of Rotherham’s most progressive cultural organisations, including Magna, Wentworth Woodhouse, Gulliver’s Valley Resort, Grimm & Co, Rotherham Open Arts Renaissance (ROAR), Rotherham United Community Sports Trust (RUCST) and Rotherham Council’s Events Team.
All 55 trainees have been tasked with producing a series of creative summer events that will engage young people in Rotherham and give them a taster of what becoming Children’s Capital of Culture in 2025 will be like. Some of the town’s most experienced creative mentors are working with them to help turn their creative visions into reality, and as well as on-the-job support and mentoring, each trainee has also received a personalised training plan from South Yorkshire training provider, The Source Academy.
Leanne Buchan, Acting Assistant Director for Culture, Sport & Tourism at Rotherham Council, said: “A key part of the Children’s Capital of Culture programme is about giving our young people life-changing skills development and training in the creative and cultural sectors, and these traineeships are doing just that.
“When we advertised the trainee roles, we were blown away by the response and hundreds of young people between 16-25 applied. We appointed the 55 trainees based on their unique visons and aspirations rather than their prior experience, and they have all been placed at the organisations where we feel they will shine brightest and get the most out of their traineeships.
“The feedback we have received from the trainees so far has been fantastic, and they are all really excited to be gaining work experience in areas that interest them and being part of a programme that will genuinely transform Rotherham.”
The 55 trainees are aged 16-25 and 12 of them are care experienced. They come from a range of backgrounds, with some having no prior experience, while others have been through college or university.
Mitchell Nuttall, 25, is a young actor who is completing his traineeship at Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council. He said: “I struggled in school as I have a disability, and I didn’t do very well. After leaving I went to college to do performance arts before doing a degree in the same subject. I love acting, but decided it was time to do something different. However, my disabilities make certain things quite difficult, like a lot of 9-5 jobs, and that made finding something pretty hard.
“I was over the moon when I got this role. Everybody has been so supportive, and it’s really helped me to perform in the job, which is a huge achievement for me. It’s made me realise that with the right team around me, I can do well in a working environment and achieve great things.”
Mya Fuller, 17, has loved being on the stage since being a child and is doing her traineeship at South Yorkshire training provider, The Source Academy. She said: “My traineeship is letting me explore my interest in the arts and working at The Source has given me the confidence that anything is possible.
“I can’t wait for Rotherham to be Children’s Capital of Culture. It will be nice for my hometown to be in the spotlight, and it will bring a lot more opportunities to people who live here.”
Aliya Ahmed, 19, is doing her training at Magna, alongside studying for a photography degree. She said: “A lot of families are against their children going into the creative sector, as they don’t think it’s a proper career path. I want to help change these views, and at Magna I’m working on the production of a careers event for kids that will showcase all the brilliant job opportunities in the creative industries.
“I’m developing so many new skills and getting to meet a lot of new people. I usually only get to work with other people on my photography course, but now I’m getting to work with people who have experience in different areas and I’m learning so much.”
The training programme has been made possible thanks to funding from the UK Community Renewal Fund.
For more information about Rotherham becoming the world’s first Children’s Capital of Culture in 2025 and how you can be part of it, head to www.rotherham2025.com/hello