Foot In The Door Launch at The REP

Foot In The Door Launch

Our brand-new initiative Foot In The Door kicked off on Monday 19th June. Foot In The Door is coordinated by Creative Alliance, delivered by 9 partners (Bareface, Beatfreeks, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Blue Whale Training, CBSO, DanceXchange, DESIblitz, mac, The REP) and funded by Arts Connect. The launch took place at The REP on Monday where all 60 successful participants were invited to hear from the partners, Creative Alliances’ Director, Noel Dunne and guest speaker Marika Bee.

Foot In The Door (FITD) is a series of courses designed and delivered by the partner organisations that will enable 60 young people to develop their employability skills, gives them 90 hours experience working within a range of organisations and to get a head start in the creative sector. We especially wanted to encourage those from a diverse backgrounds, experiences and abilities who may not have had such an opportunity before.

The programme will develop participants in areas such as technical, backstage, production, event management, digital marketing and much more. We can’t wait for the 60 young people to get fully stuck into everything on offer to them and to take a step towards becoming part of one of the fastest growing sectors in the West Midlands economy.

First up to welcome the 60 young creatives was Creative Alliance Director, Noel Dunne:


About Foot In The Door

A knowledge and skills based training programme designed to help you better compete for entry level jobs and apprenticeships.

There are courses being designed and delivered by employers in Birmingham’s Creative and Cultural industries. Each partner will tell you more about what their course is covering and when it is taking place. Mac will be running an arts volunteer training programme which you’ll all be able to take part in. There will also be a programme of Monday evening employability sessions designed to help you better present yourself on paper, in person and online. There will also be masterclasses and visits to add to your learning.

Why are we doing it?

The creative industries are the one of the fastest growing sectors of the West Midlands economy: worth nearly £4billion a year to the regional economy and employment in the sector has increased by 16%.

Last week alone we received over 800 applications for the 30 live apprenticeship vacancies we’re currently advertising for.

So, employment is growing but there are still not enough opportunities in our sector for everyone competing to do them. That means we know that it can be tough for young people from diverse backgrounds, experiences and abilities to get their foot in the door.

Qualifications are necessary but experience is essential.

James’ story:

James Hull is from Chemsley Wood, Birmingham.  James completed a BA Honours in Animation and Moving Image in 2016. He can’t get work in the creative industries and so he has been doing lots of voluntary work alongside working in a pub because he can’t get people to commission him as an animator.

The reality is he probably won’t – not straight away- and from the conversation I had with James it sounds like no one in school, college or university has had that type of conversation with him. And that is the same for everyone here who is trying to earn a living from creating or performing original content.

Schools, colleges and universities are excellent at developing a deep specialist set of knowledge and skills that usually lead to qualifications. In the creative industries those qualifications are usually about creating or performing original content.

The reality is that most paid roles, especially early on, are in supporting and organising roles: in customer service, marketing and sales, back stage and administration, running workshops and organising projects and events. The Business of being Creative.

What I hope James and all of you get from the Foot In The Door programme is the chance to think sideways and not just up or down.  For James, it might be thinking about how his knowledge and skills in animation might be developed in marketing, stage design or teaching roles.

Sideways Thinking and the Climbing Frame

People often talk about the career ladder. There is no such thing in the creative industries. It’s more like a climbing frame. A lot of the time you have to move sideways, and sometimes even back down, to move around to move up. Looking and moving sideways means thinking about how you might take the knowledge and skills you have and apply them elsewhere and in other roles.

What employers are looking for are qualities and behaviours that are often best developed by experience. Qualities like getting on and doing it, doing what you say you’re going to do and taking responsibility for sorting things out when they go wrong.

Foot in the Door has been designed with the funders Arts Connect and all the partner organisations to give you the opportunity for a breadth of experiences to present to employers.

These partners have all been selected because they are committed to creating entry level opportunities for talented young people like yourselves. If you have been on our apprenticeship vacancy page in the last week you’ll have seen apprenticeship opportunities with Bareface, BRB and The Rep. There will be opportunities for you to compete for at the end of the programme.

We want to see you move on and into paid work opportunities as apprentices, as freelancers or on part-time or even full-time contracts.

What You Do

Listen to the course descriptions and read the summaries you’ve been provided with. Tomorrow morning at 7.00am you’ll all get an email with links to the EventBrite booking form for each course.

You choose 2. We can’t guarantee your first choices. Once a course is full its full. In some ways, it’s not the end of the world if you don’t get your first choice. This programme is about looking sideways and sometimes discovering something that you didn’t know you could be interested and be good at.

Only choose courses you can commit to. There all types: some are being run as week long summer schools, some are Saturday morning, some are evening classes, some are run over a whole mix of dates. Missing one session is OK: life happens and you may have personal, family, medical or other commitments that clash. But don’t sign up to a course that you know you’re going to find it difficult to commit to. You’ll only be stopping someone else from doing it.

You will also have the chance to book onto one employability session in July or August. These take place on a Monday between 4.30 and 6.00. September and October will focus on Presenting Yourself in Person and we will have employers talking about what they look for at interview. In July, we’ll open the programme again for you to book your third programme once we have seen how bookings have gone for the first two.

A written piece by Alex Thompson (Foot In The Door Candidate)

Look Sideways. A saying I never thought to bring into my own professional life. Starting a degree at 18 and everything that comes with it, the word was ‘go’ and when it wasn’t ‘go’ it was ‘up!’ However, the two words that stuck with me after attending the Foot in the Door launch were the two words, Look Sideways.

After graduating with a degree in Media and Communications in January, I remember quoting Peggy Lee in my head when I went to take my degree. Not that I didn’t enjoy my time at University; from a personal point of view I wasn’t in the right frame of mind a lot of the time; and although the help was out there I didn’t really make much effort to obtain it. During my time at university, particularly towards the end, I looked at what I had to do as a strict set of rules in my mind. It was in a rather big bold red font rather than let’s say a light blue one. I couldn’t differentiate between what was a rule or a guideline and the number one recurring thought was to find a way to get up the ladder.

“How about turning the ladder sideways?”

Hearing this in The Door at The REP, on an exceptionally hot day was a surprising cooling contrast. Around 59 others and myself were invited to Foot in the Door’s launch. Foot in the Door (FITD) gives up to 90 hours experience working with organisations within the creative sector. Foot in the Door is set up by Creative Alliance.

 “Giving young people a chance to build a legacy in the creative and cultural industry in Birmingham throughout 2017”

I was happy to see not only recent graduates, but also students leaving school, entering college, seeking work in the creative sector and not really knowing where to start. Each speaker from his or her respected organisation had a clear consensus that what you put out is what you get back. Just securing a place at one of the creative sectors from; The REP, Birmingham Royal Ballet, CBSO and DanceXchange, would give us 60 young people training and experience in behind the scenes works, stage management, public speaking, play-writing, storyboarding and marketing to say a few!

After hearing each speaker, it was safe to say I felt a bit overwhelmed about the opportunities that could successfully come my way. A slight voice of imposter syndrome ringed in my head. However these thoughts were quickly disproved after hearing the final speaker. A lady called Marika Bee, who had been in my shoes, openly admitted that she doesn’t find passion in work if it’s not in the creative sector. Marika spoke for the ambivalent young creative individual who just isn’t sure where to go in the professional world. She talked about being a professional with creativity and she reminded us that we were built for this.

Marika spoke for us all and personally made me feel confident and more ready to take on FITD and what is now coming my way. To make Birmingham the creative city it is with my own creations, ideas and knowledge. The willingness to get stuck in and an open mind for what Creative Alliance has to offer me and help ground this wandering individual in a possible career path in something I adore, a path going side to side.

 You can follow Alex on Twitter here

To keep up to date with all things Foot In The Door please go to the website here