Emrys Green, Get Into Theatre

What is your project about? How long has it been running?
www.getintotheatre.org was developed as an information, advice, and guidance resource for young people 14-25 who were interested in any aspect of theatre, especially the production and technical elements, although it does cover every job from actor to technician, director to administrator and of course education officers.

The project went ‘live’ in November 2007 after a launch at the Shunt Vaults (London Dungeons) and months of development with young people. It is funded by a project called ‘Young People’s Participatory Theatre Project’ (YPPT), managed by the Arts Council England, which had money from the DCMS and ran for 3 years up to this March.

Describe your role on the project?
My role on the project was varied. Initially I was just a ‘young person’ giving my view and representing my peers, however for the website development I then sat on what was known as the ‘Digital Strategy Committee’ who developed the idea for the website, what sort of information and style it should be in. Following this I also ran tests on the site, providing feedback throughout the development about how it should look and function. Although this was only one voice and the developers had to create something that met different expectations, but we ended up with a site that at present has lots of case studies on different jobs and careers, information on work experience, games, and a wealth of answers to the common questions. Another of my roles was to help co-ordinate the production of a promotional film, which was filmed in London with a cast of professionals and young people.

How are children and young people involved in your project?
The website is being passed to a new organisation at the minute and in doing so young people remain as advisors to the site and the information it should have, and where it should go from here.

A related site has been developed by MDK Web & Media (www.mdkwebmedia.ltd.uk) for another part of the YPPT project which provides information and interaction about organisations and events across the Eastern Region for young people – www.itsourtheatre.com and this is providing the bench mark development with Mobile versions, user generated content, and a Facebook application in development.

What has been the key outcomes/ learning from the project so far?
But the key outcomes have included providing thousands of users every month with advice and an experience of how to make a start with involving young people in this sort of project.

What are the key success factors of the project?
The film was a great experience for young people as they were exposed to green screen technologies and had lots of fun filming for 2 days. The film can be found at: www.getintotheatre.org/the_film

What have been the key benefits of the project to young people?
The major benefit to young people is that there are over 20 young people as part of the YPPT and all of these work with other young people in the 9 regions to develop projects and gain information to promote and advance the website, this means it is up to date and provides what young people want. By demand it has information of practical opportunities like those offered by CEG Theatre Services (www.cegtheatreservices.co.uk) for training and qualifications, and also for university courses. It has been used across the country by young people getting information on courses, one friend of mine found the information so useful he found a course and has been studying Stage Management as a result.

What barriers have you experienced when setting up and delivering the project and how were they overcome?
The largest barriers have been getting young people involved from different parts of the country of varying backgrounds and IT abilities to give feedback about the site and be involved in its continuing development.

In your opinion, what has been the most significant thing about this project in terms of engaging children and young people to participate in decision-making/ have their say?
It has provided young people like myself and all those in the YPPT project with a good experience of decision making to influence such a highly used site, and that these opinions are at least considered, but more than this is continues to seek feedback on how to improve.

If you could give your top tip to anyone who wants to develop a project in this area what would it be?
For anyone that wants to get involved in a web build project with or for young people I strongly suggest using a company that specialises in working with young people to build sites, like the company mentioned above at www.mdkwebmedia.co.uk, someone who doesn’t charge extra to come and meet young people, and someone who has the networks, knowledge and experience of how to facilitate these groups of people. I think the advice they provide is invaluable and is often even cheaper than big commercial agencies I’ve found since.

Participation Works is a partnership of…
British Youth CouncilChildren's Rights Alliance for EnglandKIDSNational Council for Voluntary Youth ServicesNational Youth AgencyNCB