In 2014, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, together with Theatre Peckham, asked 34 young people to reflect on the value they place on education and participation in the arts. The young people, aged between 14 and 21 years of age, were drawn from a collection of schools, colleges and theatre organisations such as Theatre Peckham and London Bubble, all of which are based across the London Borough of Southwark. The research gathered in these feedback sessions document young people’s engagement with drama, theatre and performance. Funded by Creativeworks London, the investigation is also a critical next step for Theatre Peckham in their aim to establish a two year, post-16 performing arts course for those aspiring to enter education and employment in the creative and cultural sectors.
Of the report, Dr Catherine McNamara, Central’s Pro-Dean (Students), Academic Partner in the research project and its lead author said, "The ‘What’s it Worth? Evidencing the Value of Participation at Theatre Peckham’ report is about cultural value as experienced by young people in Southwark. The findings will, I hope, be of interest and of practical use to a wide range of professionals that work with young people within the creative and cultural sector. The research was intended to be a critical step for Theatre Peckham in developing a new performing arts course but I feel that it could benefit us all in the work that we do."
Denise Keane, Head of Education and Training at Theatre Peckham, had this to say of the event: “The 'What's it Worth' launch was a wonderful and inspiring celebration of what we hope will be a really significant on-going partnership between ourselves at Theatre Peckham and Central. It has been of huge value to us, and to them, for our young people to be so involved in this kind of research. The openness and honesty of their responses to questions about the value of their participation at Theatre Peckham (and other organisations involved) will resonate profoundly with us as we plan our future 16+ performing arts training provision. It is and has always been Theatre Peckham's intention to equip our young people with the confidence and resilience to find their own creative voices, to be proud of their huge talents, and to follow their hearts and passions into sustainable and fulfilling careers in the creative industries. 'What's it Worth' helps us see, in concrete terms, what we do well and what we need to do better to nurture our artists and arts leaders of the future.
As one of young people said as the event came to a close: 'I'm from Peckham. I feel I can come here (to Central) because Ron's here, and he's from Peckham. If he can do it it makes me think - why not me too?'
And that, I think is the whole point.”
On Wednesday 12 November, the findings of this research- What’s It Worth? Evidencing the Value of Participation at Theatre Peckham - were launched in a special event at Central, featuring industry and academic partners who shared the aim of enhance the recruitment, attainment, retention and experiences of young people from lower socio-economic backgrounds. Key findings, including the themes and patterns which emerged from a series of interviews, were shared and a resulting set of concrete 'suggestions for action' were proposed.
The focus of the event was a panel discussion featuring researchers and practitioners involved in the project. Each of the panellists spoke about their involvement and findings, following which the group collectively offer an overview and a set of insights which can be taken forward and applied. The panel was led by Dr McNamara and Teresa Early, the Artistic Director of Theatre Peckham. They were joined by actor Adjoa Andoha, Artistic Director of the Red Room Film and Theatre Company, writer and social commentator Topher Campbell, actor and Graduate of Central’s Collaborative and Devised Theatre Course Martins Imhangbe, Director of The Culture Capital Exchange Suzie Leighton, and Theatre Peckham Graduate and first year Central student Ronald Nsubuga.
"The event we held to launch the report brought together a great mix of people who are all deeply invested in nurturing young people’s participation in drama, theatre and performance," explained Dr McNamara. "The panel members all shared beautiful insights into their own responses to the report and I hope we can share our findings much more widely in the weeks to come."
It is and has always been Theatre Peckham's intention to equip our young people with the confidence and resilience to find their own creative voices, to be proud of their huge talents, and to follow their hearts and passions into sustainable and fulfilling careers in the creative industries.
– Denise Keane, Head of Education and Training at Theatre Peckham