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A programme led by Liverpool Everyman Playhouse Theatres working with young people who are NEET, persistent absentees or at risk, on the theme of boundaries, territory and space.

8th January 2010

An intensive summer programme of artistic activities in Kirkdale and West Everton gave Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse theatres a presence and a visibility in the local area.  It engaged with young people including absentees or NEET (not in education, employment or training).  Some also have ASBO orders, are known to police, have substance misuse issues or are registered with other agencies in the area.

In the autumn, the theatres prepared to interview young people as part of their research for a production called ENDZ. The theatres focused on those young people that were most disengaged in order to find ways to involve higher numbers of NEET/persistent absentees or harder to reach young people.

  • A group of young men from The REC – a recreational football site - did a taster Listen and Learn Creatively session on the day a young man from their area was stabbed to death. They made a banner which they took outside as their own statement against death. They agreed to participate further in a film project and explained that they would like to ‘throw light on to the Rec football area’.  In response local residents were invited to donate lamps and fairy lights from their homes and with technical support from the Theatres the caged area of the football pitch was lit and the boys played football under the fairy lights.  One of the young men danced on the Playhouse roof at dawn and at dusk in fairy lights. Both events were filmed.

    The young men were invited to talk to the Head of Sport and Recreation at Liverpool City Council and a member of LFC to explain their plight and why they were doing the light installation.

    On 4th December the young men worked with the theatres to create a screening of their films (along with Rotunda Colleges film ‘I’m a little girl with lots of questions’) back on the Rec football area.  They created publicity for local residents and planned the screening and a football match to follow. In response to the project Sports Alliance agreed to supply portable flood lighting on the football pitch every Thursday from January 2010.  Bill Bygroves from Liverpool Football Club did a professional coaching session at the end of the screening event and offered to provide coaching every Thursday night from January 2010.

    The young men who are interested in lighting and developing technical skills were invited to the theatres pantomime on 30th November. In January they will work with the theatres’ technicians to explore lighting equipment.  The idea is to empower them to create a large scale lighting show on the REC in spring. This will encourage the young men to continue with their mission of getting permanent lighting as well as introducing a potential training/career route.

    Due to the success of this work the theatres delivered a Listen and Learn Creatively session at Westvale Youth Centre, Epson Street Play Centre and are planning 2 Listen and Learn Creatively sessions with harder to reach young people from detached work at the REC involving 12 NEET and persistent absentees in January 2010.

  • A group of girls including persistent absentees who are connected to Rotunda College participated in a Listen and Learn Creatively session.  They were keen to explore questions that young women and girls daren’t or haven’t asked. Young women from local schools anonymously gave them secret questions.  The group recorded the questions and a sound installation was created.  On Saturday 28 November three girls with identical red coats, white socks and black shoes were based at Lime Street Station where their luggage asked questions to passersby. This was made into a mini film.
  • A group of approximately 58 young people including 26 NEET, persistent absentees and young people at risk known to police at the Shewsy Youth Club in West Everton worked on an arts project focusing on boundaries, territory and space November – December 2009 which included creating:

    • A life sized sculpture of figures releasing a dove made by the young people and a visual artist
    • Poetry and spoken word
    • Physical theatre performances
    • Music to support the film & performance work
    • A filmed dove light installation on 7 December. This involved children making paper doves with messages of hope and peace attached. The young people, children and residents from West Everton met at the Shewsy for scouse and mulled wine/juice. They walked in a procession to Everton Park where they created a huge dove made out of torch light. A burning torch was placed in the beak of the dove and was passed around West Everton. To conclude children released the dove’s they had made, attached to balloons, lit with LED lights. They floated into the sky to pass the message of hope and peace to the rest of the city.
    • A football match on an unlit caged pitch involving young people from two estates with tensions between them (from Scotland Road area and Langy estate). Monday 14 December.
    • All of the artistic work will come together in a performance event 17 December at 6pm at Shrewsbury House Youth Club.
  • Achievements to date from the Targeted Work with Harder to Reach Young people

    • 150 sessions with 1500+ participants in six months
    • 100+ individual young people in regularly participating in sessions
    • 30+ young people (NEET, persistent absentee, at risk and known to police)
    • In the projects in Kirkdale and West Everton the young people have responded very positively to having ‘a mission’ and a purpose in their work. In Kirkdale the young men want lights so they can play football.  In the process of lighting the football area for artistic events they have started to engage with artistic activity and some individuals are showing a more committed participation. The theatres are encouraging them to take more responsibility in event planning.
    • Some of the young men from the Kirkdale Rec are interested in working alongside the theatres’ technicians to learn about lighting which could become a career route.  The theatres technicians have invited the young men to practically learn about the Pantomime lighting equipment in the New Year. They will be encouraged to co-design a lighting show on the REC in spring. Meetings with Liverpool Community College and LIPA have looked at the possibility of creating short courses (off-site if needed) to compliment the young people’s experience in technical theatre next year which would give the formal accreditation.
    • 185 young people came to the city centre to see Kes or Dick Whittington. For many it was a first time theatre experience.

    In the Kirkdale Rec and West Everton light installation projects the young people created events which required the participation of their local community. This was the first time the community had seen some of the young people demonstrating a positive act to bring the community together.

The theatres found a different way of working.  This involved working with a known ex-criminal from the West Everton area (who had completed a 20 year prison sentence) alongside an international award winning artist. Together they created an introductory session called Listen and Learn Creatively.  The model worked as follows:

  • The ex-offender talks to the target group of young people in an informal basis in their setting/street/environment, accompanied by an artist.    He establishes a trust with the group as he can disclose information which enables them to know he is from their world/community and that they can trust him.  He invites them to do a taster session with the theatres and agrees a time and place in their immediate locality where it can be held (a church was used in one area to work in the same street).
  • Agencies or community volunteers in the area who make contact with the young people (if any) are asked to support the initiative and give encouragement/reminders if appropriate.
  • A Listen and Learn Creatively session takes place which involves the ex-offender talking through times and experiences in his life with a specific focus on territory and boundaries.  In the process the artist works with the ex-offender and group to participate/explore as a group e.g. writing on sheets or throwing paint with different tools. 
  • A hook or interest is identified in the group and further work offered, tailored to the needs of the group.  This forms a first project.