In late 2013, we travelled to South Shields to deliver THIS IS IT! North East. We met and were inspired by a whole raft of creative talent in the area, including Dan Lee, Creative Employment Programme apprentice at South Tyneside Council. Read on to hear experiences of his apprenticeship so far, and how THIS IS IT! North East was for him.
“I began my apprenticeship in supporting live events and promotion at South Tyneside Council at the start of July. I had spent almost a year scavenging for work opportunities with little luck. Years of education, four years at two different colleges and it seemed like I’d achieved very little. I could have moved on to university, but I knew people who had taken this path and they were at the same place as I was. It seemed like another few years of education with a bill at the end of it.
When I got the apprenticeship I was over the moon, and I started the beginning of summer. We had public music gigs throughout the summer, and I found myself suddenly meeting people, seeing tangible outcomes of my work, but most of all I was waking up with a purpose each morning.
THIS IS IT! North East was something I had been looking forward to. I had been wondering what to do after my apprenticeship, and I needed to see some evidence that people had been where I am now and achieved success. If I am being completely honest, I wanted to see some working class people who had made a name for themselves due to hard work, not some fancy pants who got given the best education at a job and the family company. I am pleased to say that I got what I was hoping for.
We spent the day engaged in various activities – brainstorming ideas and developing thoughts with other apprentices and analysing what we had done with the speakers, discussing how they can be developed further and applied in the real world. There were speeches from people in the creative industry – these people related to what we were going through, and had been though themselves. One speech by Kevin Meikle, a Visual Artist and Studio Manager, gave an honest insight into the world of freelancing and emphasised that we don’t need to rely on someone else – if we put the hours in, we can work for ourselves.
The speaker Alex Brownless, a fashion designer and co-founder of Arts Thread, was particularly inspiring for me. He is living evidence of something that I had been told about but was yet to see. He (in fact all the speakers) talked to us with confidence and honesty. It wasn’t lofty talk about how we can do anything if we just dream; they talked to us like real people -employees even.
THIS IS IT! North East was exactly what I needed. It left my mind whizzing with ideas and thoughts. I don’t know what the future holds for me, or what what my goal is in life, but I do know that I will keep working my arse off, keep climbing the ladder and, who knows, maybe giving a speech at a THIS IS IT event in the future…”
Dan Lee, Creative Employment Programme apprentice, South Tyneside Council – who is now actively involved in helping The Creative Society develop an Alumni scheme as part of the THIS IS IT! programme.