The future of theatre in Yeovil and the South West is in safe hands, as 15 young people from across Somerset and Dorset took part in The Octagon Theatre & Westlands Entertainment Venue’s inaugural work experience programme.
During the first week of the summer holidays these sparky young people met with members of The Octagon & Westlands team, learning about what goes into running a busy creative arts venue. Staff from the Arts Engagement & Outreach, Programming, Box Office, Front of House, Marketing, Events and Technical teams gave the work experience students an insight into the daily life of their jobs while also talking about their different career pathways.
Over the course of the week-long work experience programme, the 15 participants aged 14-16 years old, discovered…
Throughout the week participants got the opportunity to meet industry professionals and the people behind the scenes that make it all happen, to find out more about the various careers in the arts and theatre. Over the week, participants developed key employability skills, learning teamwork, communication, problem-solving and public speaking.
Each day participants were given mini tasks relating to different areas of the industry, including making programming decisions, investigating the challenges of producing a piece of immersive outdoor promenade theatre, designing a creative project to engage young people across Somerset, and operating the sound and lighting for a stage show.
Over 40 young people applied to take part in this opportunity, the final group of 15 were selected because of their varied interests in learning about the broad diversity of non-performing roles in the creative industries. Participants travelled to Yeovil from all over Somerset and Dorset - some traveling over an hour each day. At the end of the week, the students formed three companies and developed their own ideas into a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style pitch for a new touring show, which they presented to The Octagon & Westlands management team and each other. The Octagon & Westlands work experience programme will be repeated annually with plans to deliver two week long programmes each year for Yr10 and Yr12 students respectively.
This activity forms part of The Octagon & Westlands expanded Arts Engagement and Outreach programme, which has been made possible through the venue’s role as an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation.
Of the week, the participants said:
“It was really interesting finding out about all sorts of job opportunities, and I learned a lot about the sort of jobs that I may be interested in when I'm older. Thank you so much!”
“Thank you so much for the great week, I’ve learnt loads and really enjoyed it. Hopefully I’ll get to volunteer or work at Westlands/the Octagon in the future!”
“[…] has blossomed under the programme and so thoroughly enjoyed it that I cannot thank you all enough! To all at the Octagon and Westlands for making such a positive impression. Please do pass on my thanks to all, what a wonderful asset you all are to our community.”
Katherine Hoskins, The Octagon & Westlands Arts Engagement and Outreach Manager, said: “It has been a delight to work with these 15 fantastic work experience students, and a privilege to invite them into our venue to see behind the scenes. We have been blown away by the interest in our work experience programme, the high standard of applications and the local need. We hope by opening up our venue and offering students the opportunity to have insight into the different careers in the arts industry, we can encourage them to think about how they could contribute to the future of culture in Somerset.”