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Posted 10 Oct 2023

Assemble in white text with coloured arrows pointing towards it

National Youth Theatre (NYT) have launched Assemble, a new programme created to address isolation amongst disabled young people in non-mainstream schools that specialise in moderate or severe learning support needs, seed funded by the National Lottery Community Fund’s Bringing People Together programme.

Initially running across London, Manchester, and South Wales, Assemble will create connections between disabled and non-disabled young people and build a network of local organisations that provide ongoing opportunities and progression routes into the arts and employment. In Wales, Assemble is being delivered in partnership with National Youth Arts Wales, a charity for young performers and creatives across Wales, from ages 11-25.

National Youth Theatre also holds a key partnership with the Centre for Equity and Inclusion at London Metropolitan University. This partnership will evaluate and examine the power community organisations and programmes have to influence social policy change.

One of the highlights of the programme will be supported by Gig Buddies, pairing a young volunteer with neurodivergent participants to go to gigs, concerts, and other cultural events such as attending the theatre alongside relevant training.

Assemble aims to grow participants' confidence and expand the young people's interest in the arts through specialist workshops and training. They will build upon the National Youth Theatre’s current programming which develops young people's employability and creative skills, such as confidence, communication, and cooperation. Participants will be supported by volunteers from the local community who will be trained, and become experienced in, inclusive practice.

Participants will be supported to access further opportunities after the programme, including progression into National Youth Theatre membership, access to the arts, and other opportunities from cultural community organisations in their local area.

Paul Roseby OBE - CEO and Artistic Director said; “Assemble is an important next step in our growing national inclusion programme and efforts to fix the broken pipeline that isn’t currently serving young disabled talent. Assemble will bring people together, tackle isolation and empower young voices to thrive. We’re grateful to our partners at National Youth Arts Wales and The National Lottery Community Fund for their support.”

Evan Dawson, Chief Executive of National Youth Arts Wales, said: “Isolation amongst young disabled people is a huge problem in Wales. At National Youth Arts Wales, we have seen countless examples of how theatre and arts projects can inspire, support and connect young people from a wide range of backgrounds. So were really excited to work with our partners at NYTGB on Assemble, which will leave a lasting legacy across Wales, helping young disabled people engage with arts and culture opportunities in their local communities. It’s a ground-breaking example of what can be achieved when arts organisations work in partnership.”

Melissa Eaglesfield, Deputy Director of UK Portfolio at The National Lottery Community Fund, said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, and the hard work and dedication of staff and volunteers at The National Youth Theatre, this funding will make a great difference by creating a grassroots network where disabled and non-disabled communities can come together in England and Wales.

“Our ambition is to invest most in places, people and communities experiencing poverty, disadvantage and discrimination. I’m delighted that our funding is being used to create safe environments where communities can build new relationships in a creative space.”

The National Lottery Community Fund recently launched its new strategy, ‘It starts with community’, which will underpin its efforts to distribute at least £4 billion of National Lottery funding by 2030.

As part of this, the funder has four key missions, which are to support communities to come together, be environmentally sustainable, help children and young people thrive and enable people to live healthier lives.

National Lottery players raise over £30 million a week for good causes across the UK. Thanks to them, last year The National Lottery Community Fund was able to distribute over half a billion pounds (£615.4 million) of life-changing funding to communities. To find out more visit www.TNLCommunityFund.org.uk

There will also be a steering group for each area the programme is running in made up of D/deaf, disabled, and neurodivergent young people, local community organisations, cultural venues, and key local change makers, including council and local authority members. They will keep the interests of the participants at the heart of this programme, oversee best practice, and be part of building local inclusive networks, driving change at local policy level to enhance the potential for cultural engagement to enrich participants' lives.

Assemble will begin in Autumn 2023 - get involved now