Language: English | Māori

The arts should be at every young person’s fingertips

Every child in Canterbury should have access to theatre and be provided with an opportunity to express themselves creatively. It is a big goal, but one The Court Theatre is tackling head-on.

To reach this goal, The Court is working on ways to ensure there are pathways for young people into the arts. One of these pathways is engaging with The Court’s Education and Outreach programme that continue to run successfully with generous funding from the Rātā Foundation.

The Education and Outreach programme supports connection, capacity building, confidence and career development amongst participants.  The programme works with young people aged 7-21 and has seen over 8000 participate over the last 12 months, including over 150 online participants during lockdown.

The central aim of the programme is to create opportunities for participation and learning in the arts.

The Court Theatre’s Chief Executive Barbara George says “An important kaupapa of The Court Theatre is to connect local communities through shared story-telling, producing international, contemporary and classic theatre that engages, challenges and inspires audiences.”

Through the education programme they run theatre classes and touring shows that go out into the community, as well as workshops in schools, the Inter-School Theatresports Competition, and special school matinees and education packs for secondary school students,” Ms. George says.

“These programmes allow young people to share their creative voice.”

“We believe that theatre should reflect stories from all the people in our communities, so a big aim for us is to encourage more Māori and Pasifika participation in all our programmes.”

The Court has a bilingual performance piece in the school touring show, with Te Reo Māori and English entwined together when working with Māori performing artists. They also presented a trilingual show in Samoan, Tongan, and English when working with a Pasifika performing arts group.

“If you’re a young person who identifies as Māori, and you see a Māori performer come out and work in this space, then you see that there’s a pathway for you into the arts,” Ms. George says.

“The Rātā Foundation’s support is absolutely integral to what we do. Without that support, we wouldn’t be able to reach the quantity of participants in our Education and Outreach programme or provide such a high-quality experience at The Court.”

The funding also enables The Court to keep its programmes affordable and accessible to all young people, no matter what kind of financial background they come from.

 “The Foundation funds many organisations across the community and being part of that network is incredibly important for our future. It allows us to connect with other communities, and expand the reach of the work we want to do”, says Ms. George.

Rātā Foundation Chief Executive Leighton Evans says, “The Court Theatre is a key arts organisation in Christchurch.  The depth and breadth of their programmes demonstrates leadership in creating opportunities for our young people to express their creativity and share stories.”

Ms George says “Our goal isn’t to create loads of actors. It’s to share the joy of performing, teach the skills of collaboration, creative thinking, and give young people confidence to share their opinions and their stories. We think every young person should be given that opportunity.”