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Capital Theatres Technical Modern Apprenticeship programme

The Capital Theatres Technical Modern Apprenticeship programme supports young people to develop skills for a Theatre Stage Department, including flying scenery, and stage technician disciplines. Capital Theatres received an award of £69,000 from the R25 Fund.

Working in partnership with Edinburgh College for this pilot scheme, Capital Theatres will employ two Technical Modern Apprentices, through the Skills Development Scotland (SDS) Modern Apprenticeships Scheme, which will include paid places on their Diploma in Technical Theatre and Production Operations (SCQF Level 7).

Based at the Festival Theatre, the apprenticeships will each last 14 months, the first from November 2023 to December 2024, the second from November 2024 to December 2025.

Funding will cover salary, industry training and qualifications, equipment (radio, toolbelt and tools) and PPE (steel toe cap boots), IT equipment (laptop) to support multi-location working and study and also a travel allowance to visit other theatres.

There is currently an industry-wide skills gap in technical skills for the theatre industry, referred to more commonly as the ‘off-stage talent drain.’ Capital Theatres has consulted with other theatres who all have trouble in recruiting skilled and experienced staff for junior technical positions. It is an area which does not receive much profile, yet it is an essential part of delivering live performance. 

Skills Development Scotland’s Modern Apprenticeship Scheme provides a well-established, tried and tested framework for Capital Theatres to trial an on-the-job training experience in Technical Theatre which does not exist anywhere in Scotland

Capital Theatres has well developed networks which will ensure that Modern Apprentices will be able to experience working in other Edinburgh venues, such as the Lyceum and the Traverse Theatres, which are of different sizes and have different operating models (producing houses rather than touring venues for example)

In addition, their close relationship with Scotland’s National Touring Companies means they will be able to offer the Modern Apprentices experience of working with them as well as other large-scale UK touring companies and, potentially at other UK venues.

The key principle of Capital Theatres’ Technical Modern Apprenticeships is to address this practical skills gap by enabling participants to directly experience every part of the Stage department with a particular focus on the fly floor and rigging, developing skills and behaviours which will make them suitable candidates for working on large-scale touring productions, as well as working with producers more locally on co-productions, and with National Companies in Scotland.

The project will also help build capacity in Capital Theatres’ Technical Team, by developing a good working model for future Modern Apprenticeships. Trialling a Modern Apprenticeship is part of their strategy to future-proof technical skills for the theatre industry, while providing the opportunity for long-standing members of staff to pass on their skills, knowledge and expertise.

There is a growing appetite across the sector to create more opportunities for new talent to enter the industry in this way, yet few actual opportunities. Funding a Modern Apprenticeship is challenging for many small-scale theatre organisations, and can be a barrier to more opportunities being created. This funding offers Capital Theatres the unique opportunity to support people to develop skills which will support the industry, and allow Capital Theatres to share learning and experience with others in the sector.

Environmental Impact Measures Taken
Capital Theatres is committed to exceeding the basic legal requirements around sustainability and are working towards Net Zero by 2030 in line with the city’s ambitions. They strive to minimise environmental impact arising from their activities through an Environment and Sustainability Strategy which ensures all venues have easy-access and well-signed re-cycling bins and composting provision for staff and visitor use. As a result of this, the organisation currently has for example: a beehive on the roof; bike shelter; re-usable plastic cups across all bars; canned beverages instead of glass when possible; digital screens instead of posters around the theatres.