Newcastle-based theatre company Northern Stage has won the Workforce Award at the 2019 UK Theatre Awards on Sunday 27 October in a lunchtime ceremony at London’s Guildhall.

The Workforce Award recognises work that specifically promotes a commitment to professional development and the opening of entry routes to off stage roles. 

Northern Stage won the award for their thriving participatory programme which engages young people aged 5-25 in a wide range of projects underpinned by their company values of innovation, inclusivity and collaboration. 

Northern Stage's Executive Director, Kate Denby said:

"We are absolutely thrilled to have won this award. Our team has put a huge amount of work into delivering a well-developed and properly targeted work experience programme for younger teenagers that puts them on an accelerated trajectory, one which we can support at each stage via our established programmes such as Young Company and North. It is fantastic that this important work has been recognised by the UK Theatre Awards and we hope this opens up more opportunities like this for young people across the UK.”  

In 2018/19 Northern Stage set out to support the professional development of young people interested in offstage roles by launching a comprehensive tiered support model which included a Careers day that gave young people the opportunity to access professionals in one to one surgeries.

Northern Stage also run work experience weeks which is offered to up to 15 young people between 14-18 years old, twice in an academic year and have proved the most successful in developing entry routes to off-stage roles.

Determined to widen access participation Northern Stage targeted recruitment inviting applications from young people from under-represented groups including asylum seekers, those from BAME backgrounds, those with learning and/or physical disabilities and those with a housejold income below £16,200 and/or in receipt of free school meals.

Northern Stage's Deputy Director of Participation, Susan Mulholland said:

"We sought to remove some of the barriers to applying and taking part. Our applications could be done via an online form with the option to send us a short recorded message if they didn’t feel able to fill in a form. Provision was made to cover travel expenses and we also  offered everyone a free lunch rather than just those entitled to free school meals."

In Spring 2020 Northern Stage will launch a Careers Roadshow which is an opportunity for rural schools and those for whom transport costs to the theatre will be a barrier. Professionals will visit the school and deliver a combination of practical demonstrations, one-to-one surgeries about career paths.

The Theatre, which is the largest producing theatre company in the North East of England, offers continued development opportunities with their Young Company, a creative development opportunity for young people aged 16 - 21 and their NORTH programme which features tailored support for actors, theatre-makers and independent theatre companies in the North East to develop their skills and create work.

More information about Northern Stages training and development opportunities can be found at northernstage.co.uk in the 'Get Involved' and 'Professionals' sections of the website.

    Photos by Pamela Raith and Ewa Ferdynus