Black Country, Young Promoters

Black Country Touring’s Young Promoters Scheme; The Words of a Teacher

Young Promoter Scheme

[yuhng] [pruhmoh-ter] [skeem]
  1. Run by Black Country Touring, a community arts organisation, the Young Promoters Scheme enables young people aged 6-18 to organise and promote a live professional theatre or dance show in their own community space. The young people are involved in every aspect of the event, from marketing to fundraising to stage management; they make all of the decisions and do all of the work.

 

This article was written by Jane Perks, a teacher St Johns Primary school in Walsall. She has been working with Black Country Touring to deliver the Young Promoter scheme with St Johns’ students for over 10 years. 

 

Being a Young Promoter
The Young Promoter scheme is a project I have personally been involved with for a number of years. It is a most engaging way for young people to gain an insight into working in the arts particularly live theatre. It is also a brilliant platform to use literacy and numeracy skills taught at school in real life situations. Above all else the young people involved LOVE IT. The activities involved are memorable for the youngsters – they have real links with the curriculum but are done through team led tasks involving an abundance of leadership skills. The youngsters remember their experience of being a Young Promoter for many years to come – do they remember a literacy and numeracy lesson… I doubt it!

Transferable Real Life Skills
Being a Young Promoter teaches and uses important life skills not always easy to teach through an often restrictive National Curriculum.
• Being organised
• Communication
• Making decisions
• Real group work
• Raising pertinent questions
• Solving problems
• Thinking creatively
• Team work /leadership
• Money management
• Sharing decisions

The most important aspect, I feel, is that the youngsters involved are fully immersed in decision making right from the start – which show to promote? When to put it on? Where to hold the show? Start times? The price of tickets? The main element is that the children are in control. They decide. This ownership obviously brings with it a huge amount of pride. The show is theirs, they are in control, and they feel grown up. Again difficult to do through routine schoolwork. The skills the children will use, without being aware, are fully transferable into the wider world.
Some teachers may feel this is too time consuming and doesn’t link to the curriculum. In fact being a Young Promoter is the perfect vehicle to get young people engaged in literacy and numeracy skills by using a practical task to implement literacy and numeracy skills. So the practical aspects of the National Curriculum are put into a meaningful context and therefore become more valuable.

Curriculum Links

• Ticket design – hand drawn or using ICT
• Calculating area – how many seats fit into the space? How many tickets can we sell?
• Organising money – giving change when selling tickets, keeping running totals of money taken, completing receipt books for office accounts, banking money. How much money do we need to break even? How can we raise more money? Managing a budget. How can things that are needed be paid for?
This brings a wealth of weird and wonderful ideas from the youngsters as to how they can raise the funds needed. Through the Young Promoter process the youngsters quickly realise that their ideas can and do get put into practice (pupil voice) which brings a huge sense of pride and achievement – entrepreneurial skills in abundance.
• Designing posters with persuasive slogans, eye catching designs as well as key information
• Communication – sending emails to local businesses
• Preparing a press release
• Compile a blog on the school website
• Invitations to local dignitaries e.g.; local MP or even the Mayor
The children enjoy trying to create a buzz about the show they are promoting and soon develop the self confidence to initiate asking adults for key information – they may even be able to persuade a local MP to donate a raffle prize!
• Researching the shows and company
• Contacting the company to relay vital information and questions asked from the other groups – done through email and telephone conversations – it’s surprising how much confidence is needed by a youngster to leave a pertinent message on an answer phone!
• Solving problems as they arise calmly and logically
• Cooperating with caretakers and giving orders e.g. where to position chairs
The Young Promoters love to engage with the production company from their first meeting to offering to carry their equipment in and organising their pre show refreshments.
• Personal and social skills needed to welcome the audience as they arrive
• Showing people to their seats
• Selling and serving refreshments as well as raffle tickets
• Organising and running other fund raising initiatives set up for before and after the show

This is where the quietest child can suddenly blossom before your eyes as those original ideas of how to raise money are put into practice. One child I taught had a bad attendance record at the school – but he was the first one to arrive after school to sell refreshments! This is just one example of how being a Young Promoter can have such a positive effect on young people which can give them the opportunity to improve through an increase in motivation.

 

Being a Young Promoter is an easy and enjoyable route into allowing young people access to the world of the arts. Some children will sing, dance or act in school plays – great! But what about the more introverted child? The shy child? The quiet child? Easy. Being a Young Promoter gives youngsters a way into the arts without having to be “centre stage”. They soon realise that the sound or light technician, the props designer and the person working in the Box Office are all equally important. Being a Young Promoter gives youngsters a route into the arts which they may not have even realised existed. It opens opportunities for all youngsters to be involved. It gives the shy child a voice. The quiet child gains confidence when serving people refreshments. Being a Young Promoter brings learning to life. It encourages all ages and abilities to contribute and gain self confidence, as well as a love of creating.
Being involved in the Young Promoter’s Scheme is a perfect platform for those schools at the start of their journey to gain Artsmark as well as giving the curriculum much needed breadth and balance.