The Bike Shed Theatre joins pioneering bid to end middle-class domination of arts organisations

The Bike Shed Theatre has been selected as one of forty organisations across the country to take part in a flagship scheme to help end middle-class domination of the arts. The Exeter venue will join arts organisations including Turner Contemporary and Sage Gateshead on the Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries programme which will employ graduates from lower income backgrounds.

As one of the organisations receiving funding towards a post, The Bike Shed Theatre will employ a full-time Events Organiser on a twelve-month contract. The post will be advertised in October and will be open to graduates who received a full maintenance grant throughout university and who would struggle to do the unpaid work which acts as a gateway into the sector for up 88% of young people working in the arts today*.

Kelly Johnson, The Bike Shed Theatre’s Deputy Director said:

‘We firmly believe that theatre should be for anyone who’s curious about the world, regardless of economic background or social class. Everything from the kind of work we stage to the décor in the bar and the approach of our staff is carefully considered so that we can be as welcoming as possible to people who might not ordinarily come to theatre. Our employment opportunities should be the same but when gaining experience in the sector often means undertaking unpaid work, it’s not a level playing field. We’re excited to be part of this pioneering scheme which aims to address such an important issue in our industry.’

The bursary recipient will receive a mentor throughout the placement and, along with all other recipients, will have the opportunity to travel to Europe to take part in an international festival. By the end of the bursary, they will have met numerous industry contacts and gained a well-rounded experience and support in getting a permanent position within the arts.

The Weston Jerwood Creative Bursaries grant follows a series of grants recently awarded to The Bike Shed Theatre from Trusts and Foundations including support from Esmee Fairbairn Foundation for its Artist Development programme and Backstage Trust for the development of The Boat Shed, a new creative space on Exeter’s quay.