Thousands of pupils across England will get to work with world-class cultural organisations as part of a £5m performing arts programme, the government announced on Friday.
According to the Department for Digitial, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), 10,000 children between the ages of five and 18 will benefit from new Youth Performance Partnerships in Croydon, Derby, Medway, Plymouth and Salford.
The BRIT School, BBC North and the Lowry Trust will partner with schools in these areas to give children the chance to perform drama, rap and dance, and learn theatre skills such as lighting, sound and set design, the DCMS said.
Participants will be given the opportunity to learn practical skills both on and off stage, and work with playwrights to develop new works that students will then perform.
The department added these partnerships will be “particularly focused” on engaging young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Proposals from areas where the level of young people engaging in the arts, culture and theatre are low, and where there are less opportunities for young people to take part in performance were prioritised.
Jeremy Wright, culture secretary, said: “As I know from my own experience, performing on stage can be transformative for young people. It can boost self esteem, build confidence and teach skills they will use throughout their lives.
“While I’ve seen first hand some of the excellent work by schools and theatre groups, too many children around the country still do not have the opportunity to take part either on stage or behind the scenes.
“Our Youth Performance Partnerships will give thousands of young people the chance to work directly with world-class cultural organisations and inspire the next generation of playwrights, actors or producers.”
One partnership was selected in the north, the midlands, the south-west, the south-east and London, the DCMS said.
These new partnerships add to existing government investment in cultural education, such as music education hubs which the DCMS claims have helped more than 600,000 children a year access activities such as playing an instrument or joining a choir.