Kate Townley- Project Management Apprenticeship at Art Shape

Feeling university is not for you, read how Kate forged her own way in the creative industries with support from Create Gloucestershire’s CEP funding. 

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After leaving college I was still very much unsure about how I wanted to progress, although being very keen on a creative career I had no idea about the opportunities that were available let alone how I would go about getting involved. Both school and college had been very focused on university, it seemed like that was the only path available and it was just something I didn’t want to do. 

Value of volunteering
I knew that experience would be key, and so I decided to start looking into local arts organisations that offered volunteering. This is where I found Art Shape and automatically resonated with their work and values as an organisation, I felt like this was somewhere that I could work. It took me a while to build up the courage to call the office but when I did I spoke to Lucy, the Managing Director. After sending through my CV, Lucy asked me to come in and have a chat. I was then offered the apprenticeship. 

Career pathways - apprenticeships
No one had ever discussed apprenticeships with me, I didn’t know that they were available in the creative sector. At first I was unsure, it seemed like a big commitment, especially with a level 3 qualification to complete as well. However I had a good feeling about Art Shape and gratefully accepted the role. 

Over the year of my apprenticeship, I can honestly say that I learnt so much- the role was incredibly varied and I worked with every member of the team within different elements of the organisation. I learnt marketing, project management, data entry, volunteer co-ordination, and exhibition set-up through work in the office. But also, outside of the office, I assisted in Adult Education classes, ‘Of Course We Can’ inclusive young adult’s workshops and supported the Your Future project working with young children from a domestic violence background. 

Opening my eyes to new experiences
It was a year of new experiences and the opportunity to work with so many different people completely opened my eyes. I have met interesting people of all abilities, and broadened my knowledge of the arts along the way. I was incredibly lucky that Art Shape supported me whilst completing my Level 3 NVQ in Business and Administration- any experience that I needed they were happy to provide. So after finishing my apprenticeship, I stayed on with Art Shape continuing with the jobs that I had started during my first year and taking on new responsibilities. 

I came to Art Shape, 19 and fresh out of college, completely fazed by life outside full-time education and now 3 and a half years later I have progressed to become the Education co-coordinator and Volunteer manager. It has been an incredible journey with a team of fantastic people, I couldn’t have imagined a better introduction into the creative industry.  

Plans for the future 
I’ve learnt so much about being creative from the inspirational people that I’ve met along the way, it’s given me the confidence to pursue my own artistic vision. All my learnt skills in marketing, social media, inclusive practice and community art will continue to inform my decisions and help me on my journey. I feel so much more inspired now than I did when I first started. 

Tips for anyone wanting to take their first step into the creative industries
For those who are just starting on their journey I would say, experience is everything! There are so many wonderful organisations out there with a passion for all things creative, and despite what you might have learnt at school - there are so many different ways to be involved in the arts. 

Research local creative organisations, ask about volunteering or work experience - you could get involved with so many exciting things just by enquiring. Meet people and allow time for connections to be made, once they know your skills and passion it’s very likely that they will recommend you to others. But most of all enjoy the journey and allow your goals to change as you grow - you might find that your calling is something very different to the idea you entered with.  Connecting up with the county arts and cultural network,  Create Gloucestershire is a great starting point. They have a useful page on their website Creative Steps and you can get up to date news on their Facebook page facebook.com/creategloucestershire and via their twitter @createglos