Investing In Generation Z

One of the most original strategies awarded Raise The Roof funding in 2018 was Mandurah Performing Arts Centre’s (MANPAC’S) big investment in a Generation Z focus.

Raise the Roof is the grants program that supports expanding annual performing arts offerings in venues in regional WA. It is intended to raise the quality, scale and profile in regional centres boosting tourism and participation.

Whilst some venues are fulfilling their thirst for increased opportunities in genres like theatre, dance, and classical music, MANPAC took a different road investing 100% of the funding in a youth strategy.

Already highly invested in youth with existing companies Riptide and Pulse resident in the venue, we asked Artistic Director/CEO Guy Boyce why he had developed such a youth focus.

Guy pointed out that the youth focus for MANPAC that has been in place for some years and said that Raise The Roof was an opportunity to join the dots between their resident youth companies and programs, and to extend their reach to engage with young people throughout the community.

MANPAC has a long history of engaging the next generation of talented youth in theatre and circus and growing the artistic skills and talents of its community of passionate young creatives.

“The youth sector is sometimes an elusive market for us, and we know that is the case for so many venues,” Guy said. “The fact is, if we can connect writers, art makers, performers and audiences under 25 years old and produce quality, regional work, we can go a long way to ensuring the future of work theatre and circus and maintain engagement with the community.”

Most Australian may not see a play in school these days, and by the time they are 25 they are often committed in other activities and they become hard to engage. Performing arts, it seems, needs to think about identifying and attracting great young writers and performers in relevant and youth focussed activity so it has more of the cradle to grave approach that has seen so many sports identify lifelong audiences.

Although, according to Guy, the MANPAC youth strategy goes well beyond filling theatre seats, libraries and stages with emerging talent.

According to research, youth in MANPAC’s catchment can tend to be disenfranchised with lower levels of education and youth unemployment in the region at three times the national rate. There is a crisis with mental health in the region with youth suicide an ongoing community issue.

“As the home for the performing and visual arts in the Peel region, Manpac needs to show leadership both as an arts hub and as an investor in the community.”

“We know from last year’s AYTP research that of 1200 young people that  89% reported that participating in drama had a positive impact on their self-confidence and 94% of respondents said that it had a positive impact on their overall sense of wellbeing.”

We aim to broaden horizons, break down barriers of alienation and provide a sense of connection & belonging. MANPAC’s Youth Engagement Program has four pillars: CONNECT, ENGAGE, PARTNER & RESPOND, and the program will develop diverse opportunities such as recreation and training strategies aiming to open career pathways for our youth.

MANPAC has engaged local actor/director Kellee Aberg as Youth Engagement Officer to drive these four pillars, and she has rapidly set about developing school bus subsidy program, and a young ambassador program, meanwhile programming the inaugural youth festival in May 2019, with creative industry links for young people throughout.

“This new funding will help us expand our Riptide expand our program to reach more young people in our community,” said Katt Osborne Artistic Director of Riptide Youth Performance Company. “Over the two years of funding we will aim to engage with a new age bracket of 12-15 year olds, as well as continue the work we are doing with our current cohort of 15-25 year olds. We will also get the opportunity to present work and works in development at a new youth festival.”

Through its Youth Engagement Program, with the support of the Raise the Roof funding, MANPAC is committed to offer young people the opportunity to grow artistically and making a big impact in improving lives in the Peel region.