The ABTT and Southbank Centre launches it’s co-designed Technical Academy to address skills shortage and diversify the creative production sector

18 March 2024

The ABTT and the Southbank Centre is proud to announce the launch of its co-designed Technical Academy, a pilot training programme which aims to create new pathways into careers in Technical Production, attract new talent and improve the diversity of the workforce. The Technical Academy is open to anyone 18+ with no previous experience or qualifications in Technical Production, and offers participants the chance to learn the basics, see how technicians work, and discover the need-to-knows to find work in the industry.

Image credit (L-R) Emily Roberts, 6ft From The Spotlight; Graham Moir, Head of Technical Production, Southbank Centre and Technical Academy Participants. Photo ©️ Roger Hennigan

The full-time training course, which launched last week, runs for three weeks and takes place at the Southbank Centre and partner venues. Selected from over 700 applications, the 25 participants taking part in the Technical Academy are from London, 18-44 years old, 60% female or non-binary and 52% Black, Asian and Ethnically Diverse.

The Board of the Southbank Centre’s Technical Academy is made up of leading institutions and businesses across the arts and creative sector including Association of British Theatre Technicians (ABTT), The Albany, Ambassador Theatre Group (ATG), Association of British Theatre Technicians (ABTT), Factory International, National Theatre, The Production House, RNSS, Roundhouse, Royal Albert Hall, and Omnii Collective. Along with the Southbank Centre, they have co-designed the Technical Academy programme and curriculum and are providing masterclasses, venues, potential freelance opportunities, paid work placements and help with the next steps in finding work.

While on the training course, the participants will gain a grounding in health and safety and build skills in the range of work that happens backstage in creative venues – from building stages, rigging lights and setting up drum kits, to operating sound, lighting and audio-visual effects. The course will introduce participants to the many and varied job opportunities within technical production. Each participant will be supported by a grant, travel expenses, lunch and all equipment will be provided. At the end of the training, there will be a careers day to build confidence in finding future opportunities and work placements. Each participant will also be invited to join the Southbank Centre’s wider Emerging Artists and Creatives Alumni Community and will become ambassadors of the programme. The longer-term aim is that the programme will run several times a year, increasing the number of participants to 100.

The Southbank Centre has also launched a series of six monthly Technical Skills Symposium events, leading a joined-up approach to solving the technical skills and talent pipeline crisis in the sector by convening support from the sector to share best practice and develop opportunities.

Alexandra Brierley, Director of Creative Engagement at the Southbank Centre, said:

“The Technical Academy is a significant opportunity to develop employer-led, pre-employment training for diverse talent and match them with future job opportunities. There is a lack of understanding about the career opportunities in technical production and we want to encourage new people into the sector – especially those from under-represented communities. We are delighted that so many key organisations in the arts and creative industry have joined the Board and wider Technical Skills Symposium series: to support this training academy, remove barriers and work together to broaden the talent pool entering the Technical Production workforce.”

Nicola Cardillo-Zallo, Director of People and Culture at the Southbank Centre, added:

“We’re excited to launch the pilot of the Technical Academy, which has been developed in close collaboration with our partners. The aim is to remove the barriers that exist for diverse talent and ensure participants gain the grounding they need to identify and accelerate their careers in Technical Production. By being introduced to different peer organisations, gaining access to build relationships with industry experts, creating a community with their peers and contributing to building a programme that is fit for future cohorts, we are working towards tangible and measurable outcomes that will ensure this is a sustainable skills development programme for the long term.”

For more information on Southbank Centre’s Technical Academy click on the link here