Brighton Peoples Theatre is developing a strategy for working with young people.
In 2017 Arts Council England provided R&D funding to Naomi Alexander, our Artistic Director, to research and develop Starboard Festival. The new strategy is emerging from this R&D, and will enable a new strand of work with children and young people to sit alongside our work with adults across the city. We anticipate developing several initiatives through this process, delivered in partnership with other organisations from across the city.
Read more about the why, what, and how of our new strategic process below, and please do come along to share your ideas and get involved!
Why do we want to explore theatre work with children and young people in the city?
We passionately believe that theatre is for everyone. But the statistics show a much less inclusive picture.
- Since 2010 there has been a 28% drop in the number of young people taking creative GCSEs according to the Cultural Learning Alliance.
- The Acting Up report found that since 2010 the country has lost 1700 drama teachers and students taking A level drama have dropped by 27%.
- Acting Up also heard evidence from across the country of trips to the theatre being cut, or only being given as part of the curriculum if a play was being studied for an English or Drama GCSE. This includes visits to theatre buildings where young people can learn about the range of career pathways open in the arts more broadly.
- Once people leave drama school they then have to navigate an industry where low pay or no pay for work in the first few years is seen as the norm. Equity’s most recent survey of members found that 11% earned nothing from their work in the entertainment industry and 67% earned either nothing or under £10k per year.
- Sutton Trust research found that despite just 7% of British kids attending private schools, 42% of British BAFTA winners attended a fee-paying school.
- This all contributes towards Rufus Norris, Artistic Director of the National Theatre, saying recently that the Government’s creative education policy is reinforcing inequality and the myth that ‘culture and creativity belong naturally to the elite’.
While we might not be able to change the Government’s education policy, we firmly believe that we can contribute to making change locally, to broaden and deepen children and young peoples participation in and creation of theatre.
At the heart of our new strategy is a very simple question: What can we do to create more opportunities for children and young people in the city to experience and create theatre?
We want to know:
- Is the picture described in national research showing a decline in young people participating in theatre, the same in Brighton and Hove?
- What brilliant practice exists currently inside or outside of the education system that we could support or develop?
- What new initiatives might support the development of theatre by/with/for children and young people in the city?
We are exploring these in a variety of ways, to engage different stakeholders across the city.
We have held meetings in partnership with Our Future City to get the input of drama teachers, youth theatre leaders, theatre-makers, other professionals working in theatre and young people over the past few months.
We are currently analysing what has come out of those conversations and will be posting details of our future plans here soon.