£43,000 ACE grant for Mortal Fools YT project

Published: 19 December 2019
Reporter: Peter Lathan

Arts Council England has given £43,000 over two years to Prudhoe-based theatre, drama and creative learning charity Mortal Fools for its Youth Theatre Exchange Project.

The project, which was piloted in 2018, is a network of committed cross-sector partners which aims to find new ways of developing and advocating for youth theatre, drama and personal development opportunities for young people in Northern England through partnerships, skills and knowledge exchange and practical activities aimed at creating socially engaged theatre-based opportunities for young people, focusing particularly on those who face barriers to taking part.

The pilot established a small touring network to explore new ways to connect youth theatre to new audiences, and in 2019 Mortal Fools created, with its Ensemble Young Company, a new show called I Weigh, focusing on body positivity and inspired by the worldwide @IWeigh Instagram movement, which went on a sold-out tour across the North.

Ensemble Young Company is Mortal Fools dedicated youth theatre group for young people aged 14–19. Ensemble members work together as a company of young professionals to devise new theatre, which they then tour to partner venues in the network.

Mortal Fools is the only theatre company in the North East touring youth theatre, following the same process of creating professional theatre, presenting it in professional theatre venues to paying audiences. It enables young people to co-create with professional artists, treating young people as artists in their own right, whilst campaigning for youth theatre to be recognised and championed as an art form with often life-changing impact on the young people involved.

Securing this Arts Council Funding will enable Mortal Fools to build the Youth Theatre Exchange Network to include 25 partners and allow the development, production and touring of new pieces of work.

The new Ensemble Theatre production and tour dates will be announced in early spring 2020.

Speaking of the grant award, Helen Ferguson, Creative Producer at Mortal Fools, said, “we are an ambitious organisation and this project is no exception—it will build a touring network for high quality youth theatre; partners and venues will exchange productions, activities, ideas and ways of working with a range of inspiring organisations across the North. We are a small and mighty charity, determined to make a big difference, and we are proud to be the ONLY arts organisation in the North East pioneering this way of working.”