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Getting that foot in the door

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Helen Barthorpe

Fundraising Trainee

DCMS Jerwood Creative Bursaries - Bursary Blog
Fundraising Trainee Helen Barthorpe explains how she landed her dream role at iconic music venue The Sage Gateshead thanks to the DCMS Jerwood Creative Bursaries Scheme.

After finishing my BA at Sunderland University in 2009, it almost felt like a full time job looking for any sort of vacancy within television stations, radio stations, record labels, event planning companies, media companies, music venues, music and culture magazines, music marketing, publishing organisations… The list goes on.
The Sage Gateshead and the River TyneRelentless application writing. Thinking when posting every envelope: “I have a good feeling about this one.” But alas, no reply! No congratulations – or even commiserations – came back through the letter box. These disappointments just made me feel tired, disheartened and frustrated. I realised that there were so many people in the same shoes as me, but I was also incredibly aware of the people who had been able to get into an organisation and were given their chance. Why couldn’t I get that foot in the door?
It wasn’t until I carried out my daily scan of The Sage Gateshead website for any job openings that I came across the DCMS Jerwood Creative Bursaries scheme opportunity. I researched the scheme and applied immediately. I kept the glimmer of positivity as I filled out the form. But I always had a voice in the back of my mind saying: “This is going to be another one that I don’t hear back from.” A few weeks later, I received a call asking me to come for an interview. I couldn’t believe it!
The interview was all a bit of a blur. Saying I was nervous was the world’s largest understatement. I just cared so much about doing well. A few days passed before I received a phone call… I had got the job! I was elated, my Mam was ecstatic and my whole family were over the moon.
The DCMS Jerwood Bursary scheme has enabled me to be a part of an organisation that I’ve admired since its opening in 2004 and to experience a place that I have aspired to be employed in. The Sage Gateshead is an iconic live music venue in the North East of England and a centre for music education. My position here is Fundraising Trainee, which is a support role to the Fundraising Team.
The Sage Gateshead at nightFundraising within The Sage Gateshead is an integral part of its running. The team applies for support from trusts and foundations, corporates, individuals and supporters to ensure that all the strands within the organisation have enough funding to continue or to improve. There are a vast amount of learning and educational programmes available within The Sage Gateshead that benefit people within the community from many varying types of background. They do really great work here.
My role is to help the team in any way that they need. This could be events planning and working at events, researching into funding prospects, donor care, processing ticket requests, and many other activities. I am being given the opportunity to sit in on and administer important meetings here, which gives me a first-hand insight and understanding into the running of such a vast and varied musical organisation. I’m learning new things every single day.
After coming to this amazing building as a visitor and as a concert-goer, I would never have imagined all of the goings-on behind the scenes that result in this place running like a well-oiled machine. I am trying my very best to now be a beneficial part of that machine within my team and, as a result, within the organisation. I already have so much to say about how much I’ve learned. I’m now putting all my theory into practice and loving it!

Photos courtesy Sage Gateshead. ©Mark Savage

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