A new programme of live events run for and by young people takes to the region’s stages from 26 May.
STAGE iT, a region-wide programme of theatre, music and performing arts events run by a young promoters group with the backing of Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival, will take place across the 2018 Year of Young People.
The project will host a number of quality live performances throughout 2018, kicking-off with an al fresco High Street Takeover on Saturday, 26 May at Dumfries Plainstanes. This event will include Block - a daring spectacle of aero-acrobatics from NoFit State Circus and Motionhouse; remarkable dance theatre from Janis Claxton’s pop-up duets, a showcase from local young musicians; a set from the exciting Tinderbox Orchestra; and a few treats from this year’s festival.
Stage iT provides developmental opportunities for young people aged 16 to 26 by involving a range of youth groups and young individuals in staging events for their own community.
Supported by the Year of Young People 2018 event fund, and the Holywood Trust, the project is aimed at encouraging and increasing participation in some of the more rural parts of the region as well as groups of young people with disabilities who may otherwise be less involved and supported to participate and/or experience performing arts events.
Festival chair Ken Gouge said: “We are empowering young people to make a genuine contribution to the work of the Festival and Arts Live.
“Throughout the 2018 Festival programme there are events badged YPG Stage IT. YPG stands for the Young Promoters Group. It programmes events specifically by and for young people. It consists of 12 young people from across the region who meet monthly. The young chair of the group has an ex officio seat on the main Arts Festival Board. YPG members have opportunities to build on their existing knowledge and experience of programming, managing and promoting events as well as to share their experience with their peers.
“With the funding we have for the Year of Young People we have created two part-time paid commissions specifically for young people to support the work of the YPG thus giving them real work experience in an arts organisation.
“The first event organised and promoted by YPG will be the STAGE IT High Street Takeover, on the first Saturday of the Festival. This is an amazing 5-hour free outdoor event on the Plainstaines featuring No Fit State Circus, Janet Claxton Dance, the Tinderbox Orchestra and a young musician showcase and much more.
“The YPG is also working with the council to create a unique performing arts contribution to the enhanced Youthbeatz Festival this summer. This will feature professional performers and local talent, including the Performing Arts Collective from Stranraer a recently formed performance group of young people.”
For the young people who are already involved in the Young Promoters Group, the project offers them opportunities to build on their existing knowledge and experience of programming, managing and promoting events as well as to share their experience with other young people.
Dumfries teenager Lauren Asher heads-up the group of 12 young promoters who meet once a month to develop the Stage iT programme.
She said: “We are looking to promote new and exciting opportunities for young people to get involved in the arts. Dumfries & Galloway Arts Festival recognised the need for a young person’s programme in the region and we are happy to help fill the gap and increase the profile of arts and theatre for young people here.
“I personally get a lot out of my involvement with the programme. I joined the project in 2015 through my interest in working with other young people in a theatrical environment and some great opportunities have come my way that would not have happened without my involvement with Stage iT.
“Not only do I get to see young people really enjoying a live event, but I have had the opportunity to meet a lot of people in the industry and work with the National Theatre of Scotland."
Lauren is now involved in the theatre’s October festival Future Proof, which involves 10 productions across Scotland. Next week, she will meet with members of the Federation of Scottish Theatre.
Dumfries & Galloway festival producer, Lou Davies, said: “Over the past year, our young promoters from all over the region have been working hard to make this project a reality.
“Working within a steering group, they have made the decisions on every aspect of the project, including the branding, dates and venues, and which performers to include in the line-up.
“What has come out of this fantastic effort is an exciting, innovative programme of inclusive live events which include performances in issue-based theatre; productions with a focus on disability; live music; high-profile street theatre; and a theatre stage at this year’s Youth Beatz.
“We are all very grateful to our funders, in particular EventScotland’s Year of Young People 2018 Event Fund and the Holywood Trust whose generosity has ensured the quality of the events and allowed our young people to have a voice in the future of performing arts in Dumfries and Galloway."
Paul Bush OBE, Director of Events, said: “We are delighted to be supporting Stage iT as part of Scotland’s Year of Young People 2018.
“The region-wide arts programme gives young people the opportunity to have their say in how events are run. The entirely co-designed programme further reinforces Scotland's position as the perfect stage for events by handing over the reins to our younger generation and allowing them to showcase Scotland’s incredible young talent.”
Thanks to support from the Holywood Trust, it is hoped that this new project will also add a new dimension to the existing annual Youth Beatz event organised by CLD and further contribute to the objectives of the Year of Young People strategy for 2018.