A session on our learnings around co-design and children’s theatre. In 2019, we ran a 6-month engagement programme that supported children (aged 5-10) from low income areas in designing their own workshop programmes, building trust with an arts worker, and supporting young audience members in coming to the theatre for the first time.
Simultaneously we ran an intensive co-design week with students (aged 17-18), giving them complete ownership over programming a day of outdoor arts in Worcester City Centre.
In total, 354 young people engaged.
Key successes included: groups of young people attending the theatre for the first time and planning to come back; street art workshops where young people created murals in their community; a day of mixed outdoor theatre including small performances and large interactive exhibitions.
We found that authentic co-design that genuinely gives power to young people can support young people in feeling empowered across their lives and positively impact their relationship to their community, even over a short time period. However, it’s important that theatre makers understand that what is a ‘win’ for participants may not always match up with the change that theatre makers would like to see.
This session will be followed by some short activities where attendees will be asked to consider co-design within their own work.