Bright Young Things | New Projects bridging the gap between arts and education

2 Feb 2024

Bristol Old Vic has launched a series of new initiatives to help bridge the gap between arts and education. 

With arts subjects almost non-existent in state school education due to lack of funding, Bristol Old Vic has increased the number of creative opportunities for young people. 

The new projects are designed for people who are new to theatre and theatre-making and offer practical ways of learning about the varied careers in the theatre sector.

Bristol Old Vic hopes these additional projects will help to tackle the wider skills shortage the theatre sector is facing as well as improving wellbeing and confidence for those involved. 

Executive Director of Bristol Old Vic, Charlotte Geeves said:

“Despite a challenging financial backdrop, Bristol Old Vic continues to champion work with and for young people. We know that arts subjects inspire creativity, enable learning, build skills and support wellbeing. We also look forward to  working alongside WECA to support their place partnership programme, that will enable every school pupil to access a cultural experience each year. Together we know these initiatives will help young people to thrive, succeed in their future work and bring joy to their lives.”   


Launching this week is a brand-new Technical Youth Theatre for ages 15-18. This 3-year project is a free programme taking place on-site at Bristol Old Vic. Participants will attend weekly sessions covering a range of skills with the aim of giving a pathway into production-based roles.  

Engagement Director Lucy Hunt, said:
This new programme is not about performing on stage but about a lifelong career in the industry – the huge range of transferable skills that can be used for an ongoing career and even to become the next generation of Artistic Directors or Chief Executives if that is someone’s goal. It’s perfect for young people who have great attention to detail, who are creative and inquisitive with an interest in getting stuck into the practical sides of the industry.”

Sitting alongside this, on Mon 18 Mar, Bring The Drama Industry Day will take place at the theatre – an informative fun morning for 15-19 year olds who want to find out more about what it takes to run a theatre. BOV is partnering with the BBC’s Bring the Drama Festival, a six-week programme of careers events around the UK showcasing behind the scenes jobs in the creative industries, opening up doors to the next generation of behind-the-scenes talent. 

This sits alongside the BBC series Bring the Drama hosted by Bill Bailey which follows eight people who have always dreamt of becoming professional actors but have never had the opportunity.


Another new project is Young Company Global Majority (ages 16-25) –  a space where young people aged 16-25 from Global Majority backgrounds come together and make theatre. The group was founded as a response to the theatre sector, where Global Majority theatre makers will often be in a minority.

Engagement Assistant Lili Harvey said:

 “The Global Majority group was established at Bristol Old Vic to create environments that serve and provide well rounded experiences to all of our creative young people in the city. Too many times they have found themselves in spaces where they are the minority, shrinking parts of their personalities and understandings to appear the same. The Global Majority group is a space where they don’t feel they need to do this, they can be honest and forthcoming with their opinions. All of this allows them to explore their creativity in a more empowering and authentic way.”

Young Company: Global Majority member Lillian said:

“It’s really nice to have a Global Majority space with is a really accepting free place to be who you are- it’s nice to have a place with no fear, no anxiety, and just ‘this is who I am.”
On 5 Feb, there is an open invitation to young people from the Global Majority to attend a workshop to participate in developing what Young Company Global Majority will look like going forward, and how the sessions can best support young creatives. Alongside Artistic Director Nancy Medina, the workshop will be facilitated by the Bristol Old Vic Engagement Team and practitioner Lydia Cook.

Participants will receive a free ticket to a show at Bristol Old Vic. Food will be provided, and travel reimbursement is available. The first full session will begin Mon 26 Feb and run for 5 weeks.


Further initiatives launching this spring include Representation and Erasure (for ages 16-21), which will delve into almost 300 years of history to explore the plays being made here and what they say about Bristol and British society over time. How have these stories been used to represent different cultures, countries and communities on our stage and in our spaces over the last 257 years? Whose voices and cultures have been represented, misrepresented or erased?

The project begins on 17 April and is open to any young people interested in areas such as Theatre, Drama, History or Citizenship; Digital storytelling or Animation.  By platforming the opinions of young people, the ambition is to refocus the stories and history through a 21st century lens and create a digital project to share publicly in autumn ‘24


These new projects join Bristol Old Vic’s other hugely popular initiatives that include: 
Young Company:City which provides free weekly drama sessions delivered directly into schools and community groups across Bristol; 
Young SixSix - a free to attend ensemble of young people drawn from across the centre and north of Bristol; 
Made in Bristol - BOVs training scheme for young theatre makers; and the award-winning
Bristol Old Vic Young Company – one of the largest youth theatre groups in the UK.

In 2023 Bristol Old Vic delivered nearly 20,500 hours of learning activity, with over 15,000 participations.

Discover some more ways to take part here: