Joining Central Youth Theatre in Wolverhampton was one of the best things that happened to me as a teenager, and I’ve got loads of fond memories of everything we got up to, from visiting theatre festivals in Dublin, Leicester (and I think maybe Bilston?!), to hours painting scenery, to back combing hair our and piling on the eyeliner in our punk rock version of Peter Pan. The people I met there were lovely, and the Youth Theatre over the years has been giving young people from various backgrounds across the black country the opportunity to do all sorts of things we would never have done otherwise for 30 years now, all steered by the seemingly untireable Jane Ward.
In 1995 (I think) we put on a production of Oranges are Not the Only Fruit. I’ve been reading “Why be happy when you can be normal”, the autobiography of Jeanette Winterson recently, and she speaks very well about the effects art cuts have on communities:
It seems so easy now to destroy libraries and to say that books and libraries are not relevant to people’s lives. There’s a lot of talk about social breakdown and alienation, but how can it be otherwise when our ideas of progress remove the centres that did so much to keep people together. The library was my door to elsewhere.
In the latest savage round of council cuts arts budgets will be decimated, shutting thousands of doorways for people across the UK. In Wolverhampton CYT will be under threat after 30 years of supporting young people develop and grow. You can find out more here