THE first arts-based apprentice has been appointed in Ryedale.

Natasha Jones, has joined Helmsley Arts Centre as assistant arts co-ordinator.

The 23-year old, who lives in Kirkbymoorside, has been involved with the arts centre since she was a child. She started out as a member of Helmsley Arts Centre’s 1812 Youth Theatre, which she now co-manages.

As part of the apprenticeship, Natasha will work towards a level two qualification in community arts administration supported by Leeds City College.

“Helmsley Arts Centre has been such a huge influence on my career decisions,” she said. “Enrolling with the youth theatre at 12, then progressing to assistant director has allowed me to continue using the skills I learnt at college, where I studied performing arts.

“Living in such a rural area where jobs in the arts are sparse, my apprenticeship at Helmsley Arts Centre is a chance of a lifetime. Not only will I get a qualification, it is also providing me with opportunities that I could not otherwise have gained without moving to a city and consequently removing arts opportunities from my community.

As the first arts apprenticeship in my district I am very proud that it is with Helmsley Arts Centre.”

Artistic director Em Whitfield Brooks said this was a welcome opportunity for the arts centre. “I am excited to be working closely with such a talented young person who is so keen to work in all areas of the arts and Natasha is already proving a valuable member of the team,” she said.

“To be able to give this opportunity to a local young person, working here for a whole year as an apprentice, is absolutely fantastic.

We’re hoping she will help us continue to develop what we offer to our younger audiences, as well as learn the ropes across all that we do, and we’re very grateful to Ryedale District Council for recognising that that arts can change lives even in these cash-strapped times.”

Councillor Linda Cowling, leader of Ryedale District Council, which funds the post, said: “The council is delighted to be supporting the creative sector and young people.

This is a tremendous opportunity for a young person to really learn how an arts centre operates and experience a variety of work.’’