Nearly 400 people have already committed to being part of Inspiring the Future of Theatre, which launched on 19 April. The ground-breaking initiative, a partnership between Society of London Theatre (SOLT), UK Theatre and Inspiring the Future (part of the charity Education and Employers), aims to recruit 1000 ambassadors in the first year.
Theatre industry professionals from artistic directors, costume cutters and lighting designers to producers and props masters – many working in the UK’s top theatre and performing arts venues – have signed up to visit UK schools, introducing children to a diverse range of theatrical jobs.
Some notable ambassadors so far include James Graham, playwright; Prema Mehta, freelance lighting designer; Sharon D. Clarke, actor and singer; Laurence Miller, Commercial Director of Nimax Theatres; Kate Pakenham, Executive Producer at Donmar Warehouse; Caroline Dyott, Producer at Sheffield Theatres; Sita McIntosh, Chief Executive of What’s On Stage; Jess Glaisher, Senior Lighting Technician at The Young Vic; Gary Lloyd, director and choreographer; Kenny Wax, producer and SOLT President; Livia Nagy, Sound and Video Technician at the National Theatre; Susie McKenna, Associate Director of Hackney Empire; Tarek Iskander, Interim Director of Theatre at Arts Council England; and Michèle Taylor, Director for Change at Ramps on the Moon.
Visit the Inspiring Future Theatre page for more information and to sign up to be an #InspiringFutureTheatre ambassador.
Prema Mehta, freelance lighting designer and an Inspiring the Future of Theatre Ambassador, said: “It is so important that young people from all backgrounds are aware of the rich variety of theatre jobs available, and are able to make informed, ambitious decisions when it comes to choosing a career path. As an Inspiring the Future Ambassador I am excited to visit a school in my area to inspire pupils about lighting design, and introduce them to the technical, creative and collaborative elements that make my design job so rewarding.”
Michèle Taylor, Director for Change at Ramps on the Moon and an Inspiring the Future of Theatre Ambassador, said: “When I was at school I had no idea that a career path like mine was possible for a disabled person, but I was fortunate enough to have a few adults who believed in my abilities. The theatre industry needs all sorts of highly-trained professionals from different backgrounds and with different life experiences, so it’s a joy to inspire the next generation to pursue careers in all elements of the theatre.”
The campaign launches officially on 11 July, with an event at Northstead Community Primary School in Scarborough. Over 150 year 6 pupils from Northstead and other surrounding schools will come together in a day of activities, led by ambassadors from the nearby Stephen Joseph Theatre. Similar events will be held across the UK, focusing on areas prioritised for social mobility and cultural development, with more information to be announced in due course.
A social media campaign on 11 July centred on the hashtag #InspiringFutureTheatre will encourage ambassadors, schools and theatres around the country to celebrate their involvement, and promote the careers, education and outreach work already taking place.
Theatre industry professionals are encouraged to sign up to the ambassador scheme via the Inspiring the Future website, no matter their career level and type – and to add their voices to the #InspiringFutureTheatre social media campaign on 11 July.
As SOLT and UK Theatre’s recent Workforce Review indicated, if we are to build a sustainable, resilient and globally competitive workforce for the future it must represent our diverse population. We are actively seeking ambassadors from all backgrounds to help us realise this.
Theatres and arts organisations are also able to register their interest in getting involved and working with their local schools, via the website.
Also announced today, SOLT and UK Theatre are partnering with Digital Theatre+ to create a unique eight-part education resource, My West End. This series of short online films dives into the world behind the curtain, shining a spotlight the on the extremely dedicated and often unseen backstage practitioners working at the heart of each theatre in the UK.
My West End wants young people to know that they could be the next generation of technical, production and venue teams – regardless of economic or geographic constraints. These films will be a key part of the resources provided to the Inspiring the Future of Theatre Ambassadors.
Each of the eight films will be 30 minutes long and available free for a month on Official London Theatre and UK Theatre websites. After that, highlights from the films will remain free to all young people, and the full-length films will sit on the Digital Theatre Plus website.