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Wolverhampton Grand Theatre and National Theatre launch Speak Up Schools Programme

Following a successful pilot phase that began in Autumn 2021, the National Theatre’s Speak Up programme will work with young people in five secondary schools in Wolverhampton, Walsall and Telford across the next three years.

The schools are Ormiston New Academy, Colton Hills Community School and Tettenhall Wood School in Wolverhampton, Ormiston Shelfield Community Academy in Walsall and The Charlton School in Telford.

Speak Up is the NT’s new national programme which sees young people, who have been most affected by the pandemic, working in collaboration with local artists and teachers to co-create artistic responses to issues that are most important to them. Responding to the current challenges in schools, the programme aims to develop young people’s self-expression, wellbeing and personal skills, with an open-ended offer to make creative projects in their local area.
Speak Up will take place in selected schools across Wolverhampton and surrounding areas. It is in partnership with Wolverhampton Grand Theatre as part of the national programme which is also being delivered in Doncaster, Greater Manchester, Havering, Sunderland and Wakefield, with the project extending into additional areas in 2023.

A successful pilot phase of Speak Up began in Autumn 2021 with secondary schools in Greater Manchester, Sunderland and Wakefield, with students taking part in a variety of creative sessions to empower them to tell their own stories and connect with each other and their local communities.

The NT is collaborating with LUNG as Creative Associates to deliver the training of artists and teachers and to develop the creative ambitions of Speak Up. LUNG is a campaign-led verbatim theatre company which works closely with communities nationally to shine a light on political, social and economic issues in modern Britain to ensure hidden voices are heard.

Speak Up is generously supported by the Mohn Westlake Foundation which shares the NT’s belief in the power of youth voice and working with young people to enable positive change in their lives, schools and local communities. Through a £3.3million grant to deliver the programme nationally, Speak Up will reach hundreds of thousands of students, with the majority of the funding distributed to partners enabling local employment of producers and artists.
The Speak Up programme will be overseen in Wolverhampton by Lucy-Ellen Parker.

Lucy-Ellen Parker, Speak Up & Audiences Manager at the Grand Theatre said; “At Wolverhampton Grand Theatre we strive to reach and positively impact the young people of Wolverhampton and the surrounding areas. We aim to ignite, excite and inspire the young people of Wolverhampton and the wider community to engage with the Grand Theatre and grow together in a cohort of peers who are committed to theatre and it’s development and impact in the West Midlands. We are hugely excited to begin the Speak Up programme in September, which will work to provide a platform for local young people to make their vital voices heard.”

Rufus Norris, Artistic Director of the National Theatre said, “Speak Up is a crucial part of the National Theatre’s work in levelling up, giving agency to young people nationwide whose voices often go unheard and that the Covid pandemic hit even harder. This innovative model will empower young people to share their views on current issues and put them at the heart of the creative process. We are excited to build on our in-depth relationships with our Theatre Nation partners across the country to deliver this new programme, guided by the creative vision of LUNG with invaluable funding from the Mohn Westlake Foundation. Together we will support young people to become leaders of the future and make positive change in their own lives and in their communities”.