Why do we need your support? Unlocking Creativity with Janthi Mills-Ward

21 Mar 2024 | General News

At Hull Truck Theatre we believe that creativity has the power to change lives. Making sure everybody gets a chance to participate is an important part of our mission. It shouldn’t depend on where you live or what you can afford.   

Our Creative Learning department has a commitment to removing barriers to participation in our Youth Theatre drama classes, including bursaries for free places and subsidised places for youth theatre, and free programmes of work at Hull Truck Theatre and also at the Route One youth centre in HU6. We know that the classes and workshops we hold at the theatre and in the community are more important than ever in the current environment.  

We encourage young people to develop work that is centred around their lives and experiences, asking them to weigh in on the decisions being made as part of a creative process. We have young people performing in our Youth Theatre Showcase just this week who have taken on roles of costume design, music direction and even co-directing as a way of enabling co-creation and giving our young people ownership over the work created with the help of Hull Truck Theatre staff.  

The arts are featuring less and less in school with young people losing so many opportunities in the wake of the pandemic and austerity cuts to youth services. The common misconception is that access to creative learning is just for young people who aspire to be professional artists, but in practise we believe it is about finding really important skills for life: communication, co-operation, regulating your feelings – finding a voice that you’ll need throughout your future. 

The same difficult circumstances affect the theatre too. We are trying be consistent in our commitment to Hull in the face of financial constraints and external influences. Like all businesses, our costs have increased. After the pandemic, audience patterns of theatregoing have changed. We are lucky to have public support from Arts Council England and Hull City Council, which is crucial to delivering our work, but as costs rise our funding has been at a standstill since 2018. 

Balancing a business model that needs to encompass the commercial, the new and innovative, and sustaining a regular presence in neighbourhoods experiencing deprivation is more difficult and more important than ever. Our budget for creative engagement is nearing £200k per year, inclusive of staffing and delivery of project activities, plus all the in kind support the organisation puts into young people’s productions. It’s a central strategic priority – intrinsic to our value and not something we consider additional.   

In our belief that culture is a vital thing that helps us make sense of the world – that access to the Arts is not an “extra” but that “the Arts ARE the cake” (as Lord Bragg’s recent speech declared), we want to keep our ambitious vision of offering this opportunity to everybody regardless of their background, we then have to be bold in seeking out partnerships to make this possible. 

Fees for Youth Theatre classes are already kept as accessible as possible, ranging from £55 per term to a £35 low-income rate, but during a cost-of-living crisis it is still sometimes not realistic enough for families who are struggling in this climate. We want to offer free or heavily subsidised places at all our youth theatre classes and workshops for anybody who needs it. We want to maintain regular and sustained sessions in the neighbourhoods where young people are experiencing severe inequality, so they can “bump into” activities without barriers the barriers of travel and cost.   

That’s why we’re delighted that our application to join the Big Give’s new campaign Arts for Impact was successful. The Big Give aims to help us all make more of a difference, bringing together large donors with the giving public to the charities who need them. Together this allows their campaign to be match funded to double the impact. For every £1 we raise, the Big Give give us an extra £1 on top of this. The campaign, we have titled Unlocking Creativity, is currently running takes place until midday Tue 26 March.   

We are heartened to have a vote of confidence from actor Mark Addy (Game of Thrones, The Full Monty) behind our campaign. His own formative experience of doing theatre work experience that inspired him to train at drama school gives him particular insight into how creativity can shape your future direction. We are very grateful to have his support in putting across this urgent message.   

We have to be bold in asking you to join us in making this possible.  If creativity is an important part of who you are, whether that’s being moved by great work as a theatregoer, or the sense of achievement you get from creating or participating, please would you “pay it forward” to open the door for the next generation? Now is the time to give, as the Big Give will double your donation, making your gift go even further at no extra cost to you. We are hugely grateful for everything you make possible.  

Donate HERE today.

Janthi Mills-Ward

Executive Director

Why Do We Need Your Support

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