22 May 2022

Call for Derry creative businesses to avail of funded internship programme

The project aims to support the next generation of arts and cultural professionals  


Méabh Rooney pictured with Chris McCreery, director of the Science Festival and Sarah Jones from Creative & Cultural Skills NI.

New project funding is available to Derry arts companies to create intern posts, it has been announced.  

The 40 new entry level paid internships will offer young people the chance to gain real on-the-job experience to kick-start their careers in the creative industries.

The NI Creative Employment Programme (NICEP) will work with employers to establish brand new posts in order to give people opportunities in the arts and cultural sector. Creative industry businesses in Derry are encouraged to take advantage of this excellent opportunity to add to their teams.

Funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Department for Communities, the programme will provide part funding to cover wage costs for employers who create the new jobs and hire a young person aged 16-24.

Run by Creative & Cultural Skills NI, the project aims to support the next generation of arts and cultural professionals and enable the growth of the sector by directly addressing skills gaps and shortages.

“We want to offer greater paid opportunities to young people with the aim of eventually eradicating unpaid internships, which are so prevalent in this sector. Budgets are very tight in this sector so by offering additional funding, this programme will not only help organisations create new, exciting positions but also allow for fairer opportunities to young people,” explained Sarah Jones of Creative & Cultural Skills NI.

NICEP ran as a two year pilot programme initially and this highlighted the demand for support by both industry and individuals with 59 creative businesses creating 89 apprentices and paid intern opportunities over that period. 

Méabh Rooney was a past participant on the programme, securing an internship with the NI Science Festival as a Marketing and Events Intern in 2017. With a university degree in geography, she was working in retail when she spotted the post and applied for it.

“The programme gave me a chance to get my first job in the creative sector. I never would have thought of event management as a career but I love it. I was hired back in 2019 and for the upcoming festival and this year they are giving me the opportunity to take the lead in programming two big events so I’m continually learning and developing,” she explained.

The organisation also benefitted from the NICEP funding and support. Chris McCreery, director of the Science Festival, explained: “We simply could never have done this without the support. It’s been hugely beneficial to us not just to have an extra team member but to have a new perspective by this smart, engaged young person. She quickly became a valued member of the team who has contributed so much to the festival.”

The programme will support new jobs from a wide range of fields including music, dance, drama, literature, visual arts, craft, festivals, arts venues, community arts, galleries, museums, circus and carnival arts but will also accept applications from the wider creative sector including digital, film and TV. Employers looking to grow their staff teams and offer an opportunity to a young person, should contact the NI Creative Employment Programme team for more information.

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council, said:  “We want to encourage our talented young people to see the working in the arts as an attractive career option. The NI Creative Employment Programme was created to provide quality training and mentoring opportunities, to give fair access to careers in the creative and cultural industries, and help bolster the creative sector by harnessing the talent of the next generation.”

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