RESIDENTS are being given the chance to develop workplace skills through a training opportunity with the Royal Exchange Theatre.

Wigan Council is working with the award-winning Manchester-based theatre to deliver "Local Exchange" - a three-year creative programme, which sees the Exchange take up residency in Leigh, Atherton and Tyldesley.

During the residency, people can make the most of creative opportunities, including workshops, school programmes, theatre festival and training schemes.

On 12 March, a 12-week "front-of-house" training scheme will start, supporting residents aged 18 and over who are currently not in work, to gain on-the-job training and experience in the cultural sector.

The project will see those involved take part in a number of workshops based at both Leigh Spinners Mill and the Royal Exchange Theatre in central Manchester.

READ > School day takes strange turn when sky rips open in play at Leigh Spinners Mill

Cabinet member for communities and culture at the council, Cllr Chris Ready, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for our residents to gain transferable skills to help them enter employment, while learning about the creative and ever-changing cultural world.

“As part of our commitment to making arts and culture accessible to all, we’re committed to working with partners in the industry, including The Royal Exchange Theatre, to be inclusive and ensure residents and visitors can make the most of the borough’s cultural offer.”

Participants will gain a first-hand insight into the backstage tasks required in a theatre production on stage and ready for an audience.

The training is focused on the duties of the Exchange’s visitor experience teams, who are responsible for welcoming visitors and ensuring they have a great experience at the theatre.

Trainees will shadow individual members of the team to learn new skills and understand the theatre process.

At the end of the training programme, participants will be involved in running the Exchange’s pop-up theatre in Leigh, The Den, which will be in Leigh Spinners Mill for two weeks from May 11 to 24.

It will be home to a variety of exciting events including theatre productions, workshops, readings and family activities.

Director of creative learning and engagement at the Royal Exchange, Inga Hirst, said: “Through Local Exchange we want to open up the range of skills, opportunities and jobs that the theatre has to offer.

"The front of house training programme was piloted in Tameside last summer and has seen three participants go on to get jobs at the theatre whilst others have increased their confidence and communication skills to secure other roles including football stewarding.

“We are excited to develop the programme in Leigh and work with even more people from the area to deliver the festival in their neighbourhood.”

The free programme will run from March 12 to 28 May 28 and does not require any previous experience in theatre or customer service.

The project is in line with the council’s new cultural manifesto, which outlines the borough’s five-year plan on how the authority will work with the cultural community and local residents to position the area as a culturally thriving district in the north west.

For more information and to sign up to the Front of House training programme, text 079494 315 213 with your name and email address before March 12.