The discussion started with someone saying they worked as a youth worker, and worked with a lot of engaged, creative young people who were interested in the arts, but for whom going to University was just not on their radar – either because of bad experiences with education or just it being outside their family experience and not an expectation they’d grown up with. It seems like something that’s left out of a lot of discussions about diversity in theatre, and a lot of routes into the industry, even for marginalised groups, assume a level of higher education (e.g. opportunities targeted at recent graduates).

Honestly one of the things that was best about the session was people disagreeing with the premise of the question and providing examples of how they or people they knew came into the industry without going through higher education. So potentially theatre is not as much of a graduate closed shop as it appears – or the routes are there but they’re not well known enough. Youth theatre and school drama departments came up a few times.

We talked about university providing a safe space to fail in your development as an artist – just putting on shows and making work without a lot of time pressure or financial pressure - and asked if that had to come in the context of higher education. Could youth theatres and community or outreach projects provide that? Someone mentioned the Unicorn Theatre having a theatre-making group for young mothers which sounds bloody great. Also talked about the importance of participation departments in theatres not being isolated from the rest of the building.

This article also came up in discussion and someone asked that it be put on the session notes so here it is: