My Community Arts Management Apprenticeship with A New Direction

Our Programme Assistant, Maria Onyelekere, reflects on the skills she learned and the experience she gained by taking an apprenticeship with A New Direction.

16 December 2013

What is your current position at AND, and what does your day look like?

I’m the Programme Assistant at A New Direction and I work closely with the Programme team.

A typical day for me would include things like helping organise logistics for events we run, drafting fee offer letters for people we contract and lots of spreadsheet madness and number crunching.

How long have you been in post?

I’ve been at A New Direction for almost 3 years now.

Did your apprenticeship prepare well for the tasks involved in your current role?

Yes, doing an apprenticeship gave me a massive amount of preparation for my current role. I learnt ‘on the job’ and I had great support from my manager in gaining knowledge of various key tasks of the job such as writing funding bids, running events and carrying out general day-to-day tasks.

How did you find the learning with City of Westminster? Did it feel like a continuation of secondary school/6th form? Did you enjoy it?

I enjoyed studying at City of Westminster College; it felt like a continuation of 6th form. I was able to talk to other young people who were in the same situation as me and we supported each other in our work and learning at the college; it was brilliant!

Where did you see the post advertised and what were your first thoughts and expectations?

I saw the post advertised on, the national website for apprenticeships in England. When I saw the post, I couldn't believe my eyes! It was exactly what I was after so I applied, thinking I wouldn't even get an interview. A few days later I was called by the college to have an interview. This went well and I was called for interview number 2 which I thought was also successful...well I got myself a job!

What made you think about doing an apprenticeship in community arts?

I was working for Toy’s R Us and wanted to move on as I didn't think I would have many opportunities there. I put in some serious thought about where I would like to work; somewhere enjoyable, but also somewhere that I felt my work made a difference.

An apprenticeship in Community Arts gave me the opportunity to progress and develop myself, whilst also working with an organisation to help young people (not much younger than me!).

When you got the position did you think you would still be with working here some three years later?

I was hoping I could stay on after my apprenticeship had finished but I wasn’t too sure if A New Direction wanted to look for another apprentice. Fortunately, I was so fantastically amazing at my job, they couldn't let me go!

Lots of organisations are creating apprentice positions within cultural and creative organisations. What advice would you give your peers, would you recommend an apprenticeship?

I would definitely recommend other young people to go for an apprenticeship if they are thinking about it; especially within the cultural/creative sector. You learn so many skills that you wouldn't necessarily gain by going to university and you earn instead of paying thousands in fees. You are literally learning as you go along which is fantastic.

I had support from both my employer and the college I went to once a week. The employer and educational institution are both required to put in a lot of effort too so everyone is willing to support you and eager for you to succeed.

A New Direction is creating new paid apprentice and intern positions with support from the Creative Employment Programme.

If you are an employer (commercial or subsidised) who falls under the Arts Council cultural footprint and interested in learning more about the wage incentives available, please click through to our employability programme CREATE Jobs and / or contact Oliver Benjamin.