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School theatre to spotlight key issues

10 November 2017

A new theatre project is being launched to raise awareness of the difficult issues and pressures facing young people.

Applied Theatre in Cumbria (ATiC) will take plays focussing on community safety and health and wellbeing into schools across South Lakeland and Barrow.

The initiative follows a successful pilot project in which a hard-hitting production about the dangers of drink and drugs was performed in nine local schools earlier this year. 

Funding of £150,000 has now been secured to launch ATiC, with a series of professional theatre performances to be delivered by the Brewery Arts Centre over the next two years.  

The theatre project is the latest initiative backed by the South Cumbria Community Safety Partnership, which is made up of a range of organisations including ourselves, Cumbria County Council, the police and fire services and voluntary organisations who are helping to tackle crime and disorder and promote community safety.

Councillor Philp Dixon, our Portfolio Holder for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: “We know theatre is a very powerful and effective way of engaging with young people. Performances about topical community safety and relevant health and wellbeing issues will help to educate our schoolchildren, reassure them and show what sort of help is available.

“The ATiC plays will deal with some difficult and challenging topics. They will be written and performed to entertain but also to deliver real impact. They will be backed up by engaging workshops and professionals will be on hand after each performance to ensure young people get the advice and support they need.”

Project leaders have already begun visiting schools were students will have their say on what the important issues are. Their views will then be translated into the content of the performances.

The theme of the first play will be on mental health issues, which will be performed in 10 schools in the spring of 2018. Teaching staff will have a say about both the content and age group suitability.  

The theme of the performance will change for 2019.

The Brewery Arts Centre will pull together a creative team to deliver ATiC, including a writer, director, stage manager and bring in some of the best acting talent in Cumbria.

Brewery Chief Executive Richard Foster said: “We are delighted to be part of such an exciting new project. The Brewery has more than ten years’ experience delivering engaging courses, classes and events in theatre, dance, art and music for young people through our Youth Arts programme.

“We have also worked on some ground breaking outreach projects in the community with schools and with ‘hard to reach’ groups that have limited access to the benefits that art and culture offers. We look forward to making the Applied Theatre in Cumbria a creative, innovative and impactful project.”

ATiC is being jointly funded by the South Cumbria Community Safety Partnership and the charity Curious Minds, the Arts Council organisation for the North West.