“I want there to be more opportunities for young people to enjoy creativity” Thangam Debbonaire MP

2 Apr 2024

As part of the national #SeizeTheDay campaign, Thangam Debbonaire MP visited Bristol Old Vic to speak to young people about value of arts to education.

Seize The Day, a Drama & Theatre Education Alliance campaign to raise the profile of Drama in schools, reached Bristol Old Vic last week when MP for Bristol West and Shadow Culture Secretary, Thangam Debbonaire, visited the theatre to chat to young people actively involved in some of the arts initiatives run by Bristol Old Vic and to highlight the value these projects bring.

Charlotte Geeves (Executive Director) and Nancy Medina (Artistic Director) met Thangam and introduced her to this year’s Made in Bristol (MIB) cohort during a workshop session led by director Sally Cookson and writer Adam Peck – both Olivier-Award-winning Bristol theatre-makers.

Made in Bristol is a 12-month scheme for 12 young people who would like to pursue a career in the arts and are on some sort of gap year. Now in its 14th year, MIB’s huge success means that 95% of ‘graduates’ from the scheme are still working in arts careers today, including the award-winning The Wardrobe Ensemble.

She then met members of Bristol Old Vic’s newly created Technical Youth Theatre, alongside students from St Brendan’s Sixth Form College and Taunton’s Bishops Fox School ahead of their performances this evening on the theatre’s Weston Studio stage. This is part of the week-long NT Connections youth festival of drama (now in its 22nd year) regionally hosted by Bristol Old Vic each year and involving seven regional youth theatres.

Speaking after the visit, Thangam Debbonaire MP said:

“Bristol Old Vic the oldest working theatre in the country has so much exciting work taking place with young people telling great stories, learning new skills and enjoying themselves.

As Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, I want there to be more opportunities for young people to enjoy creativity and a Labour government will make that a priority.”

Bristol Old Vic’s Executive Director Charlotte Geeves said:

“Our relationship with schools and colleges around Bristol is longstanding and increasingly vital. Bristol Old Vic supports young people who can no longer get the support they need in mainstream education. Our unique creative-based learning provides an often transformative experience with lasting benefits for participants. Investment in arts and culture means access of opportunity for every child, from every part of the city, no matter background or experience.”

#SeizeTheDay is a national  campaign running from 20–27 Mar, coordinated by the Drama and Theatre Education Alliance (DETA) to engage politicians and school governors with drama and theatre for children and young people in schools, colleges, universities and theatres. The aim is to raise awareness of the value of Drama and Theatre education in young people’s lives, coinciding with World theatre Day and World Theatre Day for Children and Young People.