“Without youth theatre, I would never have won the Booker prize” says the 2019 joint winner, Bernardine Evaristo. The first black female author to win the Booker, who came from a working-class part of London, explains, “… we learned to think independently and imaginatively while participating collaboratively in drama activities that developed our confidence and honed our performance skills”. Evaristo captures perfectly what our Youth Theatre partnerships are achieving for the employability of Fife’s young people, regardless of career choice – and, who knows, maybe there will be a Fife Booker prize winner! Youth Theatre is just one way in which we contribute to the employability of people in Fife.
Youth Music Theatre Scotland
Technology session with 3D printer
Learning the music business, recording studio
One high profile example of our support for youth theatre is our partnership with the National Theatre of Scotland’s Futureproof Festival which made it on to STV news. A group of 12 young Fifers, aged between 14-26, co-created Lots & Not Lots – a concert of voice and movement, which they performed at Rothes Halls.
Our partnership with Youth Music Theatre Scotland saw over 100 children and young people progress from attending creative classes at the Lochgelly Centre and the Adam Smith Theatre to entertaining performances of HONK Jnr and Made in Dagenham, an inspiring tale of ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
Over 50 children acted their way through our Saturday morning drama classes led by qualified tutors while in Lochgelly, in partnership with ON THE RUNN, almost 50 youngsters of all ages took part in dance classes, covering everything from contemporary and street dance to jazz and cheerdance.
Our library team make a huge contribution to employability by improving literacy at every stage of a young person’s life. Starting with Bookbug we use singing, rhyme and storytelling for babies and toddlers; for primary schools there is the Big Book Brains Quiz, a mass reading challenge across the whole of Fife, while the Levenmouth Attainment Project encouraged literacy amongst first year pupils.
Beyond the school years, we support literacy for students, aged 16-21 with no previous formal qualifications, on the Start Here for Qualifications course at Fife College.
Code Club, run by our libraries team, aims to expose young people, generally 9 to 11-year-olds, to coding skills in a way that is fun and engaging. By having a games-based focus and collaborative feel, the clubs enable children to develop confidence, and leadership skills.
During 2018/19, we ran 24 Code Clubs (8–12 week blocks) and 5 new Code Club Tasters, giving a total of 209 sessions. Throughout 12 of our libraries, 155 children attended Code Club, resulting in a combined total of 955 visits. We also trained seven new Code Club leaders.
Pupils with few qualifications who were at risk of being excluded were given a rare opportunity to get hands-on experience of the music industry as part of our Dark Days Skills Initiative. Their six-week stint built up to a grand finale with them staging a live gig at the Rothes Halls, featuring four local bands.
From January to March 2019, the students were involved in a range of music industry workshops including events planning, marketing, stage lighting, sound and hands-on experience of setting up staging. They visited Sub Station, a Fife-based recording studio, whose clients have included Primal Scream and Cian Ciaran of Super Furry Animals, to learn the ins and outs of recording and one of the students was even offered the chance to record his own song.
As well as being a powerful way of growing skills and confidence and improving job prospects, research shows that volunteering can have a dramatic effect on health and wellbeing.
Our new volunteering officer has established a well-structured volunteering programme within the Trust so that participants can get experience in a variety of roles. Many of the volunteers have benefited from the training, developing both skills and confidence. Thanks to the enthusiasm and commitment of these volunteers, there were 182 placements and a total of 151 individuals volunteering. Fife benefitted from 9,041 hours of volunteer time – with a value of £67,807 – during 2018/19…
The work carried out has been so successful that the Trust earmarked funding to continue the post to the end of March 2019 and has subsequently secured partnership funding from the Dunfermline Heritage Partnership which will see it extended till the end of March 2020.