Thousands of young people in Medway and the Isle of Sheppey will soon have their chance to be in the creative limelight with news of a major new youth theatre project.
In an announcement today (22 March), the Department of Culture, Media, Sport and Digital have awarded £1 million to the Medway Cultural Education Partnership and the Isle of Sheppey Cultural Education Partnership as part of its Youth Performance Partnership Fund – one of only five successful applications nationwide.
The Medway and Isle of Sheppey programme is called “Theatre31”. It takes its title from Article 31 of the UN Convention on Rights of the Child, which declares every child’s right to participate fully and freely in cultural and artistic life. This idea is central to “Theatre31”, with young people expected to take centre stage in devising the opportunities and activities of the programme over the next three years.
Through this programme over 2,000 children and young people across Medway and Sheppey will have the chance to perform, whether that be in theatres, community halls or even outdoors. Children may work with professional theatre writers and there’ll be opportunities to get hands-on with the backstage world of the theatre, with activities around directing and stagecraft.
More information about how young people can get involved in “Theatre31” will follow in Summer 2019.
Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright said: “Performing on stage can be transformative for young people. It can boost self esteem, build confidence and teach skills they will use throughout their lives.
“While schools and theatre groups do excellent work, too many children around the country do not have the opportunity to take part either on stage or behind the scenes.
“Our Youth Performance Partnerships will give thousands of young people the chance to work directly with world-class cultural organisations and inspire the next generation of playwrights, actors or producers.”
Medway Council has been the lead partner in the application and Cllr Howard Doe, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Community Services, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded this funding which will give young people more opportunities to get involved in the arts. The funding will also further strengthen the relationships we have with creative community groups.”
Richard Holdsworth, Chair of Medway CEP, said: “We are thrilled to have been able to secure this great opportunity for children and young people in Medway and Sheppey. Following the model established by ART31 based at the University of Kent’s Gulbenkian theatre. We will ensure that young people are at the heart of shaping our programme delivery”
Chantelle Crofskey, Chair of the Isle of Sheppey CEP, said: “We are delighted to be partner in this fantastic opportunity for the children and young people of Sheppey and Medway. This investment in the arts will make a huge difference and impact to the cultural and arts access in our local areas, securing programmes and provision for the future.”
Jasmine Ee, who is an ART31 member and Medway resident, said: “I'm looking forward to having creative experiences in Medway so that myself and future young people here can access the art opportunities that I was given at the Gulbenkian.”