Arts organisations are to be linked with schools around the UK as part of a £5 million scheme aimed at giving young people greater access to the performing arts.
The Youth Performance Partnerships has been unveiled by culture secretary Jeremy Wright and will see students taught both on- and off-stage skills, in areas such as creative writing, lighting, sound and set design.
Primary and secondary school students will be linked with playwrights to give them the chance to perform work by emerging writers.
In total five partnerships will be created, in the north, Midlands, South West, South East and London.
The scheme is being delivered by Arts Council England and aims to reach about 10,000 young people.
Schools will be selected by an application process, with more details to be announced.
An ACE spokeswoman said: “The Youth Performance Partnerships will provide a brilliant opportunity for children from areas lacking opportunities to get involved in the arts to immerse themselves in the world of performance – giving them a creative outlet, developing skills on and off stage, and boosting their confidence.”
She added: “All children deserve to receive the benefits of a creative cultural education and this programme is a fantastic step towards achieving that aim.”
Responding to the scheme, Society of London Theatre chief executive Julian Bird described it as “a welcome addition to the vital bedrock of ongoing support for theatre from local and national government”.
“It is encouraging to see that developing a new generation of off-stage theatre professionals is at the heart of this initiative,” he said, adding that it complements UK Theatre and SOLT’s existing Inspiring the Future of Theatre programme.
“A joined-up approach between local communities, theatre organisations and schools is essential. We look forward to supporting Arts Council England, DCMS and both UK Theatre and SOLT members to deliver and shape this initiative,” he said.