The mission statement of the Arts Department of Wexford County Council is to improve the quality of life for the citizens of County Wexford by enabling people to engage in high quality arts experiences and by stimulating and supporting standards of excellence among artists in their practice.
Youth Arts is a key context for investment and is prioritised in Wexford County Council’s Arts Strategy 2011 – 2015:‘Youth Arts provides opportunities for young people to explore issues of significance and to experience high quality art practices in a safe and appropriate environment. It provides a platform to enhance ayoungperson’s development by cultivating individual expression regardless of background.’
Consequently, Wexford County Council has led a pro-active approach to the development of youth arts within Co. Wexford.
A strong youth-centered ethos underpins all areas of youth arts programming by the Arts Department, which has been guided by the following core values:
- Centrality of the individual
- Inclusion, access and participation
- Equal focus on personal, social and artistic development
- Creativity of the individual
- High artistic standards
The Arts Department’s investment in Youth Theatre has been particularly strong over the past number of years, as is evident in a number of developmental programmes and projects:
Youth Theatre Services and Development Programme (2013 – 2015):
Wexford County Council invited tenders from suitable, qualified and experienced individuals and / or companies to deliver youth theatre services for the period 2013 to 2015 (subject to funding, ongoing review and continuing satisfactory performance). The following services were required:
A) Youth Theatre Workshops and Production Programme, incorporating:
- The facilitation of weekly workshops and rehearsals for young people aged 11 to 23 years.
- Planning, design and delivery of an annual programme of high artistic standards.
- Produce at least one production per year.
- Engage external guest facilitators where appropriate
- Encourage a county wide participation programme
B) Youth Theatre Development Programme. This programme should:
- In association with the Arts Department establish a strong artistic policy for Wexford County Council’s Youth Theatre Service.
- Address the recommendations of ‘State of Play’.
- The coordination and delivery of youth theatre development training workshops (similar to Work IT!) to, for example, leaders from emerging and established Youth Theatres and Drama Groups throughout County Wexford, community groups.
- In association with the Arts Department, assess whether there is a need for mentoring and if resources are available, address this need.
- Liaise with Wexford County Council.
- Coordinate and manage all activities in relation to Youth Theatre Services and Development provision, including the development and implementation of policies and procedures.
- Source additional funding for youth theatre services.
- Develop partnerships with local, national and international organisations and agencies.
- Promote the youth theatre service and development programme – locally, nationally and internationally.
- Develop strategic plans with the Arts Department of Wexford County Council and other identified partners for the long term development of youth theatre in Co. Wexford and establish appropriate structures.
The submission received from Barecheek Theatre Company was placed first in order of merit.
Barecheek Theatre Company provide the above services via County Wexford Youth Theatre (CWYT): CWYT provides an outlet for artistic expression among the young people of County Wexford through the medium of theatre production and performance. CWYT develops and presents existing, new and experimental work by young people across the artistic disciplines of drama, dance, music and film. CWYT is inclusive and apolitical and actively promotes equal access to the arts for all.
Currently there are over 90 active members aged between 11 years and 23 years, divided into three age appropriate groups. The groups meet each Saturday for 1.5 hours per group during school term time in Studios (Youth Arts Studio) in Pinewood Business Park in Wexford Town.
CWYT has approximately 30 members who have gone on to train within the performing arts industry in Ireland and abroad and members who have won IFTA’s, Irish Times Theatre Awards and who now work professionally in theatre, TV and film.
CWYT have won the prestigious Young Ensembles Award from the Arts Council three times to develop new work.
Work It!: An Ambitious Youth Theatre Development Programme (2012):
- Setting Up A Youth Theatre
- Child Protection Training
- Youth Drama Facilitation Training
- Mentoring and Development
There was 95% participation in these free workshops. This is testament to the demand for these services.
The Work It programme attracted senior members of and volunteers from existing youth theatres as well as participants from a variety of sectors who were keen to learn about youth drama approaches, including: secondary school teachers and school completion staff; youth workers and youth club volunteers; freelance drama facilitators and drama teachers / tutors; artists and facilitators from other arts disciplines; members of amateur drama groups, and members of local community arts initiatives. The Programme succeeded in raising the profile of youth theatre practice and promoted the basics of good youth drama facilitation skills amongst participants from the above backgrounds.
Participants were drawn from across the South East, but came predominantly from Wexford, showing a demand for these opportunities within the county. Two potential new youth theatres, based in Wexford Town emerged as a result of the Work It programme and are seeking guidance and mentorship from NAYD. These new initiatives are in addition to the two other NAYD affiliated youth theatres in the county, Co. Wexford Youth Theatre and Buí Bolg Youth Group.
Youth Theatre Partnership Building Seminar (2012)
In August 2012 the Arts Department, in association with NAYD (www.nayd.ie) and Coracle (www.coracle.eu.com), ran a partnership-building seminar for youth theatre leaders from Wales and South East Ireland, called FUSE.
Participants: Buí Bolg, Courthouse Youth Theatre, Dry Rain Youth Theatre, Kilkenny Youth Theatre, WACT Youth Theatre (Wexford), Waterford Youth Arts, County Wexford Youth Theatre, Sbardun Gwreiddiol (Wales), Coracle Theatre Project (Wales), Mess Up the Mess Theatre Company (Wales), Narberth Youth Theatre (Wales), SA15 Stage School (Wales).
There was 90% participation from invited youth theatre leaders. FUSE is testament to the demand for partnership building opportunities.
State of Play: A needs analysis of youth theatre / drama training in the South East of Ireland (2010)
This research document explored professional development opportunities for youth theatre practitioners in the South East of Ireland and a needs analysis of youth theatre / drama training in the region. The publication, entitled ‘State of Play’, was researched by NAYD in association with the Arts Department of Wexford County Council. Click for pdf.