It is with a heavy heart that we have learned of the passing of our good friend Kay Mellor. Leeds born and bred, Kay was a pioneer of northern drama and real-life stories, going where no other female writer, director, or actor had gone before. We’re deeply proud and humbled to have been chosen as the home venue for her two stage premieres, Fat Friends The Musical (2017) and Band of Gold (2019) – both of which were huge success stories, as was everything that Kay turned her hand to. The hearts and thoughts of our theatre family are with her family, who we are also blessed to call friends of our theatres.

Imogen sat in Leeds Grand Theatre's auditorium

Apprenticeships at Leeds Heritage Theatres

There are several pathways into a career within the theatre industry and we want to shine a spotlight on the success of our past apprentices.

Written by Ellen Carnazza.

Since 2011, Leeds Heritage Theatres has hosted eight accredited apprenticeships across various departments. Many of our past apprentices have progressed into permanent roles within the company or built impressive careers elsewhere within the theatre industry. For example, ex-Tech Apprentice, Danielle Chandley, is currently on tour with the hit musical CHICAGO, ex-Learning Apprentice, Maddison Norton, is now the Creative Engagement Assistant at Leeds Playhouse, and another ex-Learning Apprentice, Grace Gama, is a Senior Acting Tutor.

We spoke to one of our first, and one of our most recent, apprentices about their journeys.

Our current Finance Officer, Bethany Ellis, completed an apprenticeship with our Learning department back in 2011 and has stayed with the company ever since.

“It was my first proper job after doing my A-Levels and most of my time was spent learning how to deliver tours and workshops about the heritage of our gorgeous buildings. I liked how I was learning on the job and was getting paid to learn new skills (plus there was the bonus of not racking up student debt!)

During my apprenticeship, I was also lucky to gain experience in other departments like Comms, Box Office, Technical and Finance – that’s where I discovered I could have a career that combines my love of maths and theatre. So, when the role of Finance Assistant became available, I applied and successfully landed the job. I’ve now worked my way up to Finance Officer, and it’s all thanks to my apprenticeship.”

Bethany Ellis sat in the auditorium at Leeds Grand Theatre

Credit Bryony Jameson

Like Bethany, our new Learning and Engagement Administrator, Imogen Hinchcliffe, also progressed into a permanent role following her apprenticeship with the Learning department.

“I started my journey as a Cultural Learning and Participation Apprentice in October 2019. I’ve had the opportunity to work on various projects such as Leeds Grand Youth Theatre, Leeds Actors in Training, and the Child Friendly Leeds Awards (to name just a few!). Despite a global pandemic, I thoroughly enjoyed my time as an apprentice and found a real passion for learning and engagement in the arts.

Since completing my apprenticeship, I have become a permanent member of the team as Learning and Engagement Administrator. I’m really excited to have this permanent position and cannot wait to make my mark on the role. I hope to create opportunities for young people in the arts throughout my career just like the apprenticeship did for me!”

Imogen Hinchcliffe and a LAIT member posing with arms crossed in a workshop

We hope to continue to support those who want to pursue a career in theatre and are currently reviewing the best way to do this. Whilst we already offer several entry routes into the organisation, such as apprenticeships, internships, and volunteering opportunities, we are creating a Workforce Development Plan to make sure our approach is fit for purpose and can reach people who are currently under-represented in the company. Keep an eye on our Take Part page to find out more.