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We Need To Do Something About Youth Access To Drama

Am I mad to try to start my own Youth Theatre in this climate?

Madelaine Smith - 26 July 2013

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I am a freelance drama practitioner working predominantly with young people, but employed by other arts orgs. However, I am really beginning to feel the pinch of funding and resources in this sector. So, my question came from a place that says, if you can't get enough work, make your own.

However, my feeling, having not set up something (anything!) like this before is that why should I be able to do it when many others now are in trouble?

Responses were as follows:

The general response seems to be no, I'm not mad - received a tweet during the session from the National Association of Youth Theatres saying yes, do it and we'll support you.

Young people themselves are now seeing the impact of funding cuts and are very protective over their drama groups - they want to get involved.

The need for youth theatre is greater than ever as drama is cut from school curriculum.

How to get started tips

Identify the need in the local area - do local theatres or groups already cover requirements?

Identify what it is you do? Why are you different? What are you offering?

Do you need subsidy to run the groups or is it a commercial venture where all participants are fee-paying?

Get in touch with the local authority - is there any potential for partnerships?

Suggest/offer to set up a Youth Theatre Festival in the borough (similar to STEP)

Look for ways to collaborate with local schools / drama teachers

Money matters

Don't get stuck in the chicken/egg conundrum: if you can afford to start the group with no/little money then do it. It is easier to get money out of people if you already have a group of young people who are committed to continuing the group.

Research notable locals for possible private donations for start-up funds

Approach the corporate sector for donations/ sponsorship - most big companies have a ‘corporate responsibility’ dept which may be able to make donation.



I also saw a lot of cross-over with some of the other sessions this evening and definitely take some of the ideas from those also.

I would be really interested in hearing from anyone who has experience in this area - particularly in how you got your group funded, but any advice, support (or interested parties in W/N.W. London for that matter!) would be greatly appreciated

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