The National Theatre’s Speak Up programme is to work with young people in 15 secondary schools across Greater Manchester for the next three years.
The new NT national programme will see young people most affected by the pandemic work with local artists and teachers to create artistic responses to issues important to them.
The programme aims to develop self-expression, wellbeing and personal skills and includes an open-ended offer to produce creative projects in their area.
Speak Up is working with The Lowry, and other parts of the programme are operating in Doncaster and Wakefield among other places.
As part of a pilot last year, Greater Manchester students took part creative sessions in which t hey were encouraged to tell their own stories and connect to local communities, including with drama and workshops. The sessions resulted in a plan for Speak Up's development over the three years.
The NT is collaborating with LUNG – a campaign-led verbatim theatre company that works with communities around the country on political, social and economic issues.
Speak Up is supported by the Mohn Westlake Foundation through a £3.3million grant to deliver the programme nationally, and is expected to reach hundreds of thousands of students. Much of the grant will go to partner organisations, which means work for local producers and artists.
Jenny Riding, director of learning and engagement at The Lowry, said “The programme will provide for young people to explore their perspectives and put their ideas into action.”
National Theatre artistic director Rufus Norris said, "Speak Up is a crucial part of the National Theatre’s work in levelling up. This model will empower young people to share their views on current issues and put them at the heart of the creative process.
"We are excited to build on our relationships with partners across the country. Together we will support young people to become leaders of the future and make positive change in their lives."