The UC Theatre transforms the music industry — one youth at a time

The music venue’s internship program brings a crew of underrepresented young people into the theatre to prepare them for concert industry jobs.

An intern at The UC Theatre learns to set up the sound with theatre stagehand, RJ Wilks. Credit: The UC Theatre

This story is brought to you by The UC Theatre Taube Family Music Hall.

This month, 28 ambitious young music-lovers gathered to chase their dreams through The UC Theatre’s Concert Career Pathways (CCP) youth education program. The free, nine-month training program — funded by donations to the nonprofit independent music venue  — aims to remove the barriers to entry into the music business for marginalized communities including Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), LGBTQ+, and low-income youth. 

People ages 17 to 25 can learn the technical, creative, and business aspects of concert and event promotion while developing the critical and creative thinking skills necessary for success in the 21st-century workplace.

The UC Theatre’s program certainly delivers — each year, at least 80% of CCP graduates achieve relevant employment within three months of completing the program. The result is a direct career pipeline for marginalized youth whose communities have historically been underrepresented, excluded, and exploited by the music industry. 

Deprived of 18 months of live concerts, this year’s cohort is eager to jump headfirst into venue operations, boosting the local music scene, in the wake of the pandemic, with a jam-packed lineup of COVID-safe concerts.

CCP kickstarted in mid-October with six polished introduction workshops on concert promotion, community development and education, production, marketing, talent buying, and front-of-house operations. Upon completion of the introductory workshops, CCP participants spend a minimum of 50 hours shadowing department heads at The UC Theatre, before being placed in paid internships or mentorships at the theatre, focusing on their fields of interest. 

Interns and mentees at The UC Theatre learn how audio signal flows through the theatre. Credit: The UC Theatre

CCP offers two different program tracks depending on skill level — the internship program welcomes participants with little to no experience in the industry, while the new mentorship track accommodates more experienced participants. 

Interns can freely explore all departments to gauge their interests and develop transferable professional skills. Meanwhile, mentees are supported in taking initiative on their own projects and diving deeper into their established passions through resources provided by The UC Theatre. Some of last year’s mentee projects included filming and producing a video series; creating a networking platform for creative professionals; and designing a CCP fundraising T-shirt.

All program participants — mentees and interns alike — get to flex their creativity and collaborate with one another through group projects and events while regularly attending advanced workshops and presentations featuring industry professionals. Last year’s workshops included restorative justice, career training, production management, and financial readiness. 

Participants are also given the unique opportunity to collaborate with their peers to plan and execute a community event at The UC Theatre — this includes promoting, talent buying, budgeting, audio engineering, lighting design, production management, and more. Check out this article featuring Cohort 4’s Valentine’s Drag Show, which highlighted local queer and trans visual artists, musicians, and performers. 

Erik, a new CCP intern, said, “Here are tangible activities that you can walk away with. I want to be a sponge. It will help me be more confident. I will be booking events. I want to uplift local artists. This program is a sea of knowledge that I can dive into. I value meeting more people.” 

The newest CCP Cohort 6 represents a diverse range of identities including:

  • 34% women
  • 21% nonbinary people
  • 79% people of color (7% African American/Black, 21% Asian, 41% Latinx/Hispanic/Chicanx, 7% multi-ethnic, 3% Indigenous/Native American)
  • 45% LGBTQ+
  • 45% low-income youth
This year’s interns and mentees at The UC Theatre finish a production workshop, learning the life of a stagehand. Credit: The UC Theatre

In June 2022, this cohort will graduate and join the equally diverse coterie of professional CCP alumni that represent a growing force of change. The UC Theatre is assembling a diverse team of driven young people to challenge the status quo of the music industry, which has long been dominated by a single demographic.

Applications for next year’s program will be available in the spring of 2022. More information will be posted on The UC Theatre’s website

Next time you attend a concert at The UC Theatre, be sure to stop by the community engagement table in the lobby, and meet some of the CCP interns working the show. Don’t be shy! They love bragging about the incredible opportunities they have at The UC Theatre… and for good reason. Before long, the industry will be flooded with diverse, energetic, and innovative young adults who are committed to equity, inclusion, and accessibility both on stage and behind the scenes. 

Please join us in welcoming Cohort 6 as they work together with The UC Theatre to transform the music industry!

This story was written and paid for by The UC Theatre Taube Family Music Hall, whose mission is to present a vibrant range of live performances to advance the appreciation of music, culture and education in the Bay Area.