Monday, 20 January 2014

Wolverhampton cuts to voluntary sector (Save Central Youth Theatre!!!)

In Girona in Spain at an International Theatre Festival

Wolverhampton City Council have got in a big old mess, partly because of cuts from central government and partly because there was some kind of major flaw in the budgetting plans. They've made a bit of a booboo though and decided, as part of major cuts, to reduce their contribution to the voluntary sector from £2.5 million to just £900,000 which includes cuts to the Newhampton Arts Centre and Central Youth Theatre, two charities that don't deserve this!

Classic Austria
To save CYT you can sign a petition now! The petition asks simply for more time, because the council wants to cut all funding in March, but with more time CYT would have the chance to work out a new way of funding itself :)

With CYT me and my mates travelled to Austria, Italy and Spain to represent Wolverhampton (and the country) at theatre festivals, going on my first one when I was only 13 and it was SICK! Going to the festivals gave me an interest in languages and that's why I study them now. Its where I made some of my best, best friends and grew in confidence and its actually a bit scary to imagine how different I'd be without it.  For a city that suffers from a depressing national reputation, the voluntary sector in Wolverhampton sparkles in its commitment to do good, and is something we really deserve to be proud of. But the council is set to completely destroy this tradition in our city. 

CYT is different to other youth theatres, not least because it doesn't charge as much as other places. It also does things very differently: 
"Besides our weekly sessions on a Sunday we deliver work experience placements for school children, colleges and universities – in office admin, technical theatre and costume design.  
The kind of artistic work we deliver is very different – we regularly take members to international festivals. We concentrate on the type of productions that young people wouldn’t do in school. We try to expand their knowledge of literature, playwrights, different styles of performance work and bring in specialist tutors to develop specific skills. We also incorporate making short films into our work and projects that celebrate the heritage and history of Wolverhampton.
We regularly invite former members who now work in the theatre, film and TV industry to work with us and share their skills.  This is very inspiring for young people to realise that these professionals also started as members of CYT." [Jane Ward MBE, the director]
They also have a store of over 10,000 professional quality costumes. You'd never believe this gem exists in Wolverhampton and you'd never believe it exists and survives because of one woman who has dedicated her life to it.

Me as a sheep xox
The council is adamant on blaming these decisions on central government, and claiming that there is simply no other way. However there is always another way. CYT was only informed of the total cut of its funding this week, and the funding will stop in March. It is absurd and unfair for the council to do this to a youth theatre that has been in Wolverhampton for 30 years, and it reflects their complete incomprehension of how small charities like CYT work, because CYT could survive if it just had more time. Its also another example of them completely undervaluing the youth theatre. I have completed so many incredible projects with CYT where hundreds of people from the city (and all over the world) have come, but not one councillor. Its hard to believe so much is achieved on such a tiny budget, and that cutting this small amount of money would completely devastate the youth theatre and take away all the opportunities it provides for young people across Wolverhampton! 

Just because its the arts doesn't mean its expendable. It's like Michael Sheen says: ""the arts are at the very heart of how we perceive ourselves. How we find a sense of who we are and the stories we tell and how we share and connect with each other." They make places better to live in.

CYT is just a small speck in the vast cuts the council are making, it will become a ghost town, which is so upsetting for me because its somewhere that, because of CYT, I have been proud to call my home. So please sign the petition folksss thank u


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