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Project information

An Inclusive Bristol Old Vic Young Company

We are looking to expand the diversity, accessibility and inclusivity of our Young Company for 5-25-year-olds.
The Company comprises 350 members who attend weekly skills sessions at the theatre, make/see shows and, if they want to, undertake employment, mentoring and work experience.

February 2019 - January 2020

Charity information: Bristol Old Vic and Theatre Royal Trust Limited

Bristol Old Vic and Theatre Royal Trust Limited logo
  • Need


    Our project attempts to tackle the following:

    • The systematic lack of diversity in UK theatre and participatory arts projects (especially concerning BAME or low income young people)

    • Decreasing creative opportunities for young people in light of public spending cuts in education and the arts

    • Lack of awareness around representative arts practice & recruitment

    • Specifically, we have a particular focus on removing barriers for young people affected by a disability/health-related condition.


    We offer young people, irrespective of their background, the chance to embark on a lifelong creative journey with us, via:

    • An inclusive Young Company for disabled participants, providing specialist support as needed

    • An intensive Young Company for disadvantaged 18-25-year-olds

    • A major new work experience and employment programme for 14-25-year-olds

    • Four new, young person-devised, professionally produced shows a year

    • A Young People’s Council & Charter to underpin our business plan

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To offer year-round professional standard mass performance opportunities to young people aged 5-25


    » We will produce four large, ensemble-based shows per year, each devised by the young people themselves and supported by a professional creative team

    What success will look like

    We will measure participation and attendance across the age groups, whilst monitoring project quality through participant surveys, audience feedback forms and public/press reviews.

    Aim 2

    To alter the profile of our Young Company to truly represent the diversity of population in our area


    » Following a pilot last year, we will run a Young Company group specifically for young people with disabilities or other health-related conditions.
    » We will be working in partnership with several charities and intermediaries to promote the Young Company to Bristol's BAME communities.
    » We will ensure our productions adopt the principle of colour-blind casting to create more opportunities for young people of different backgrounds.

    What success will look like

    We will assess postcode data and voluntarily-given personal data, then compare to previous years and citywide population data to ensure we are representative of our city.

    Aim 3

    To remove economic barriers to Young Company participation.


    » We will double the amount of bursaries we offer, so 20% of all Young Company participants are bursary recipients or are from low income families.
    » We will continue to monitor termly fees for similar projects locally, ensuring we keep ours lower.

    What success will look like

    We will measure the volume of bursaries awarded ensuring a 10% increase on previous years. We will check our fees are always in the lowest 10% of comparable projects locally.

    Aim 4

    To ensure young people are represented in every facet of our work at Bristol Old Vic.


    » We will grow our Young Company Council to ensure young people retain direct positive influence over the activities that most affect them.
    » We will develop a Young People's Charter to ensure the views and needs of young people influence our strategic business activities.

    What success will look like

    We will ensure young people have influence on our activities by signing off our Young People's Charter, whilst developing a track record of employing Young Company 'graduates'.

  • Impact


    We hope to ensure Bristol Old Vic belongs to and represents the people it serves - i.e. the whole population of Bristol and the surrounding area.
    We want it to feel accessible and exciting so whoever you are, you have a place here.
    Using the measures discussed above, we will share our findings at UK-wide industry events and hope this approach influences (and is shaped by) other arts organisations too, spreading a long-term step change in terms of accessibility and inclusion across the country.


    Every Bristol Old Vic project has a signed off risk register (inc. financial, competitive, operational, creative and human risks) and associated mitigation strategies attached to it.
    As a charity, any major decrease in our public subsidy is likely to have significant impact upon our activities - including operating the Young Company.
    To cope with this, we have fortified our fundraising team and are cultivating the new income sources inherent in our new building (which opened in Sept, 2018).


    We will report to donors with a minimum of:

    An end of project reporting showing all major achievements across the year

    A donor briefing and welcome in person (we will invite donors to all Young Company shows)

    An emailed project summary

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £129,500

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £42,000 Full-time project staff 1 x Artistic Director and 1 x Producer to run the project year-round
      £25,000 Workshop leaders & assistants To run/support Young Company sessions
      £21,000 Equipment/materials/room hire To run each session (there are at least six per week across three terms every year plus shows)
      £4,500 Inclusivity and access costs To ensure people with specific needs can participate (includes travel, extra support and training)
      £27,000 Show production costs To ensure we can run at least four shows per year (includes staff, set, props, lighting, sound etc)
      £10,000 Bursary fund To cover the costs of an additional 35 x 3-term bursaries (we already offer 35)

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Participant fees £68,000 Guaranteed
    Bristol Old Vic contribution £20,000 Guaranteed
    Trust and Foundation income £21,500 Guaranteed
  • Background


    Our project takes place in Bristol. Last year, we counted members from every single one of Bristol's 35 council wards.
    Bristol is the South West's largest city but one that was criticised in the recently published Runnymead Report that found that ethnic minorities, particularly black Africans in Bristol, experience greater disadvantage in education and employment than they would if they lived elsewhere in Britain.
    We want to change that fact - starting with our Young Company.


    As well as obvious organisational, audience and industry benefits, the project’s direct beneficiaries are the 350 local Young Company members, aged 5-25. To recruit this group, we deliberately target underrepresented, low-income or disadvantaged participants so the Young Company truly represents our region. We define ‘disadvantage’ as anything preventing a person from participating in arts activity (for geographic, gender, ethnic, economic, social or health reasons) in the same way as another.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We are the largest subsidised theatre in the region and are soon to open a brand new £12.5m building with state of the art spaces and resources for our young people to explore.
    We are also the longest continually-running theatre in the UK, have an enviable and visible city-centre location and have decades of experience running young people-centred arts projects.
    We also have a range of international partners and world class associate artists with whom our young people can work with and access.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Tom Morris

    Tom is our Artistic Director and is responsible for setting the creative vision for the organisation (including the Young Company).

    Lucy Hunt

    Lucy runs our Engagement department (in which the Young Company resides) and has decades of experience running large-scale young people/arts projects.

    Lisa Gregan

    Trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Lisa is the Artistic Director of the Young Company.

    Hattie De Santis

    Theatre practitioner and Producer of the Young Company.


Will provide a bursary for a young person from a low income family.

"Having only recently joined the Young Company, I've gained so much experience, met so many different types of people, and they all have something to show the world. It’s a great place to free yourself and I can only imagine the future and just hope I can be a part of it all.”

Lara, Young Company member