National Youth Performing Arts Connection Program
Since the founding of ATYP in 1963 (the country’s first theatre company dedicated to young people) Australia has been at the forefront of international performing arts practice when it comes to creating work for and with young people. Many of Australia’s most celebrated professional artists have been employed to work with our communities through the Youth Arts industry. This industry brings everyday people together with inspiring professional artists to be entertained, to share stories and to find their voice.
Australian youth theatre companies are amongst our most successful cultural exports. Windmill, Slingsby, Polyglot, Monkey Baa, Terrapin and Patch Theatre are just some examples of Australian companies that are constantly touring Australia and the world. Australia’s network of performing arts companies creating work with young people are recognised for using best-practice engagement processes that support the growth and wellbeing of young people. And the World knows it. Since 2021 the President of the international peak body for youth theatre, ASSITEJ International, has been Australian Sue Giles.
Despite the vital role the youth performing arts industry plays in our cultural life and the extraordinary community impact delivered by companies working in the sector, little information exists on the industry as a whole. This webpage is designed to address this need.
With vital, responsive investment and partnerships, we can grow the good and make it greater.
Photos: Clare Hawley ©
There is an overwhelming body of research demonstrating that an involvement in the performing arts offers tangible benefits to young people and wider society. It demonstrates that an involvement in the arts delivers, amongst other things:
- An increase in wellbeing including resilience and the ability to overcome challenges;
- An improvement in self-esteem and sense of self-worth;
- A greater connection to community and enhanced sense of belonging;
- An improvement across all areas of curriculum learning;
- The development in creative thinking, problem solving and working collaboratively; and
- An increased willingness to participate in community activities such as volunteering and voting.
Over the past 15 years the Australian youth arts industry has borne the brunt of stagnant government investment and support for the arts, particularly from the Federal Government. In 2007 there were 21 youth arts companies receiving operational funding from the Australia Council for the Arts. In 2022 there were just 4. Amongst the companies lost during this time was the national industry publication, Lowdown Magazine, and the peak advocacy body, Young People in the Arts Australia.
This decline in investment has coincided with the steady deterioration in the resilience, wellbeing and mental health of young people. In Mission Australia’s latest annual Youth Survey released in November 2022, 33.9% of the 18,800 young people surveyed identified Mental Health as one of the most important issues in Australia. 38.5% of young people were personally extremely or very concerned about mental health.
Photos: Clare Hawley ©
So the youth arts sector clearly has a problem. How do we inform our Governments, philanthropists, community leaders and others that we can improve the lives of young Australians through greater participation in the performing arts?!
Thanks to the support of the Ian Potter Foundation, ATYP is working in collaboration with the national youth theatre industry and Theatre Network Australia to make the performing arts a priority for all industries seeking to engage young Australians.
- Sign up to the Quarterly eNews to receive up-to-date information on programs being delivered around the country.
- Submit your project information to the seasonal calendar, to help us share and support the work you do.
- Contact us to access research and reports to use in your advocacy and funding applications.
- Contribute to recommendations and reports from the youth arts industry to all levels of government and relevant stakeholders.
- Participate in quarterly online industry meetings and the Biennial Youth Arts Summit to stay connected with your peers across the nation.
- Help us grow the database of professional, Australian, youth performing arts companies and practitioners.
The youth performing arts sector creates work with, for and by children and young people, reaching, involving and impacting a breadth of youth, preschool to aged 26, in city centres, suburbs and rural and remote regions of Australia. We are the dedicated Australian companies making arts visible and relevant in the everyday life of families and communities, bringing original, youth-centred arts practice to local venues, arts centres, festivals and schools.
Our national youth performing arts group is made up of small to medium-sized professional theatre, puppetry, circus, dance, music and cross-arts companies that are responsible for some of the most community-centric, responsive education, training and performance programs available in our Australian arts sector.
Intrinsically collaborative, we frequently connect with one another and with educators and researchers in our primary, secondary and tertiary sectors, with youth service groups and health experts, with State bodies and local councils, with private and corporate donors, with national peak arts bodies and with eminent and experienced performing artists and teaching artists.
Through these partnerships, and through reliable and often long-term intersections with a large network of young people, we create live and online professional arts education programs, and workshop training, new Australian content commissioning, development and performance.
Strong partnerships and support allow for the development of professional, consultative, youth-centred work with high levels of engagement and impact tracking, and they enable targeted reach into demographics such as disadvantaged students and marginalised young people.
Constantly curious, we are always looking for new ways to connect and new people and groups to re/connect to.
The great span of our work feeds into community and commercial youth arts practice, into the broader, adult creative workforce, and into the huge body of Australian cultural consumers and participants who will spend a lifetime searching out, appreciating and supporting vibrant, accessible and relevant creative engagement opportunities.
Youth arts companies feed the roots of an essential arts ecosystem that continually enriches personal, educational and social outcomes, community attractiveness, cohesion and tourism, and widespread cultural positivity, prospects and prosperity.
When we’re not sharing work and programs locally, regionally or interstate, some companies work internationally to great acclaim. This further elevates the reputation of Australian creativity on a global scale and shares our stories and perspectives with young audiences and families across the world.
Write the letters, make the invites, have the meetings, and share your journey with us!
Talk to us at [email protected], join us for an online meeting and/or sign-up for our eNews for our quarterly events calendar and ongoing news, resources and stories from our sector.
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