20 November 2019

Centre stage + 20

Youth Theatre Ireland Releases Findings of National Study

Fun, inclusion and respect in a safe and supportive space

Youth Theatre Ireland have released their third national study covering a decade of data at their 2 day annual Youth Theatre Symposium ‘Which way from here?’ at University College Cork today. The study draws on data from 55 youth theatres and over 700 participants. ‘Fun’, ‘inclusion’ and ‘respect’ are ranked as the most important values underpinning the ethos of youth theatre. Youth theatres are described as a safe and supportive space where young people can discover theatre, express themselves, take creative risks and realise their potential.

Michelle Carew, Director of Youth Theatre Ireland said, “This report highlights the potential of youth theatre for enhancing young people’s creativity and wellbeing and highlights how investment in youth theatre’s core costs, including skilled drama facilitators, is essential for the sustainability and growth of youth theatre in Ireland”

Increased levels of confidence and self-esteem

Benefits include increased opportunities and ability to mix with new people and make friends, increased levels of confidence and self-esteem, greater sense of self-identity and self-expression, improved sense of wellbeing and happiness, decreased anxiety and stress levels, improved communication skills, improved teamworking skills, increased ability to express feelings and ideas, increased sense of pride in achievements, improved sense of acceptance and belonging, enhanced ability to take on responsibilities and commitments, greater opportunities to explore issues and stories that matter and enhanced levels of achievement at school and other areas of life.

Cultural inclusion

Youth theatre is also contributing to the cultural inclusion of rural young people, LGBTI+ young people and young people with a range of disabilities and long-term illnesses. Members who openly identify as LGBTI+ within their youth theatre form 7% of the membership. 48% of members were the first in their family to participate in the arts.

Improving face-to-face communication

Contrary to the general decline in direct communication resulting in increased use of smartphones and other devices, the study found that face-to-face communication was the preferred method for 67% of members. Youth theatres are programming a wide range of challenging artistic activities with members to support their development and create unique theatre work that is responding to the ideas, imagination and experience of members.


Supporting Future Young Leaders

Centre Stage +20 research indicates a rich spectrum of artistic, creative, personal and social outcomes of participation in youth theatre. Benefits include enhanced levels of creativity, creative confidence and risk-taking, increased ability to progress to third-level theatre courses or professional theatre, increased opportunities to learn facilitation / leadership skills and become a Young Leader.

The study ‘Centre Stage +20’ highlights the continued growth of provision in regional towns and rural areas, and the decline of provision in cities. Youth theatres based in large Irish towns account for 44% of all youth theatres in the country with 80% of all new youth theatres established in the past 10 years are in rural areas and large towns and only 18% of youth theatres are based in cities. The development of provision in cities has stagnated with only one urban youth theatre established in the past decade.

Editors Notes

Youth theatres operate in 24 out of 26 counties in Ireland, 2,663 youth theatre members regularly engage in youth theatre activities and one youth theatre is operating per 11,314 young people aged 10 – 19 in Ireland. Counties Cavan, Kildare, Laois, Leitrim and Longford have the highest levels of youth theatre provision, per capita, Dublin is the most under-served region in the country and Westmeath and Offaly are currently the only counties with no youth theatre provision.
In August Creative Ireland announced funding for a pilot programme to  roll-out a new nationwide expansion and structure for the development, training and start-up of youth theatre groups. This means that Youth Theatre Ireland will expand beyond their presence in 24 counties to a new group in Dublin and in each of the counties where no affiliate currently exists by the end of 2020.
Youth Theatre Ireland is core-funded by the Arts Council of Ireland and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs

Media contact, interview and image requests:
Tracey Ferguson PR | M: (086) 158-4342 | E:  tracey.ferguson@gmail.com

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