Get up to Speed with Culture & Leisure - a great success

Over 1,000 visitors and 45 exhibitors attended South Yorkshire’s very first Get up to Speed with Culture & Leisure, which took place at Magna Science Adventure Centre in Rotherham on Wednesday 8th June, which was organised by our client The Work-Wise Foundation.

The event, which was free to attend, was part of a series of events taking place in the run up to Rotherham becoming the Children’s Capital of Culture (CCoC) in 2025. The organisers were supported by six Trainee Creative Producers who helped to design and deliver the event as part of a six-month work placement programme.

The event kicked off with an inspiring Business Breakfast, hosted by Broadcaster and Journalist Andy Kershaw on behalf of Rotherham Pioneers, with the theme Licence to be Creative. Andy introduced special guest speakers Kate Brindley, Project Director for Arts, Culture & Leisure for South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority, Julie Dalton, Chair of the Children’s Capital of Culture and Managing Director of Gulliver’s Valley in Rotherham, Jamie Hinton, CEO and Co-Founder of tech company Razor, Natasha Poland, who founded animation company Nessietessimal and is one of the event’s Trainee Creative Producers plus Jackie Freeborn, Chief Executive of Rotherham Pioneers.  The Breakfast Event was attended by over 100 business people.

After this, visiting students attended an interactive exhibition, where they had the chance to meet artists, photographers, designers, entertainers and those working in the Culture and Leisure sectors and find out about their career journeys and job roles plus colleges and training providers. Exhibitors also included Gullivers Valley, Grimm & Co, Hallam FM & Greatest Hits Radio, National Emergency Services Museum, Rotherham United Community Sports Trust, Rotherham Titans, Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust, Kings Camps and Sheffield Museums.

During the event, attendees had the chance to learn about the future of these industries and the exciting range of different job roles available.

John Barber, CEO of The Work-wise Foundation and Chair of the Get up to Speed Committee, said: “The idea for this event started last year, based on the success of our Get up to Speed events for STEAM (Science Technology Education Arts Maths).  We wanted to reach young people interested in careers in the arts, creative, leisure, sport, tourism and hospitality sectors, giving them first hand experience of working in these areas.  The feedback we had from pupils, their teachers and the businesses involved was phenomenal – and hopefully this will be the first of many culture and leisure careers events.”

Kevin Tomlinson, CEO of Magna Science Adventure Centre, comments: “There are thousands of people employed in South Yorkshire in culture and leisure careers and it is a major contributor to the local economy.  Seeing so many young people engaging with artists, leisure and creative businesses was inspiring and this will help to strengthen their experience of the wide and diverse range of careers, whilst giving businesses the chance to inspire the next generation and to address skills gaps within these industries.”

Two of the Trainee Creative Producers who worked on the Get up to Speed – Culture & Leisure had this to say:

Beth Edley said: “I have loved every minute of the opportunity to work with The Work-Wise Foundation and Magna to help plan and run this event.  It was amazing to see the process from the run-up to the event and then the overall result, seeing students and families get involved with the organisations who were exhibiting was really exciting.  This opportunity has opened my eyes to other sectors of work that I didn’t even know existed. Careers events like Get Up To Speed are great for young people to get a better insight into the working world.”

Natasha Poland explains: “Being a part of the amazing team that produced Get Up to Speed with Culture and Leisure has been a great experience for me to see just what goes into making an event like this.  I have met new people, learned and applied new creative and professional skills.  By bringing people together in fun and inventive ways this has created a whole host of opportunities for us to dip our toes into the events industry: a route I'm seriously considering following!”

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