Teenage Ambassadors Across Europe Project Officially Launched
A Great Start to the Project
Teenage Ambassadors Across Europe was officially launched as part of the professional programme for Festival Delegates at Krokusfestival 2019 (Belgium). The project is part of the wider Theatre European Engagement Network (TEEN) partnership which was founded to explore, establish, and apply best practice audience development strategies in order to engage European Teenagers in Theatre. The partnership is founded upon the idea that it is only through engaging in the perspectives of Teenagers, and listening to their needs and voices, that it is possible to develop meaningful engagement with Teenage audiences who are interested, determined, confident, and able to convey diverse opinions.
The Teenage Ambassadors Across Europe project follows on from an earlier programme of work which developed a methodology aimed at developing best practice Teenage audience development strategies based on positive experiences and practices at local and national levels. Founded by Programme Managers working in the Theatre for Young Audiences sector, the earlier project worked to identify the most suitable kinds of Theatre performances, as well as the most effective engagement techniques for the Teenage age group. This previous work established local collectives of Teenagers called TEEN Action Groups (TAGs). Completed activities included experimenting with tools of Theatre criticism and bringing together programme managers, creative professionals & artists, and Teenage audience members in TEEN Kitchen Table Meetings. These group discussions sought to encourage national and international exchange while improving the creative offering for Teenagers and helping creative teams to keep in tune with young audiences. Trialling, mapping, and translating these successful local practices into a methodology that can be applied across Europe, this earlier project marked the beginning of a permanent network structure supporting local arts organisations to engage Teenagers in their Theatre programming.
Following on from the success of this work, the newly launched Teenage Ambassadors Across Europe project has been designed by the original partners in Italy, Denmark, and Norway alongside three new partner organisations in Belgium, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Over the two-year project period, it aims to develop the Teenage audience development methodology further by testing the established methodology, alongside new approaches, across several European countries, as well as to experiment with disseminating the toolbox of methods to new, associated partners. It will also ask whether it is possible for European Theatre festivals targeting Teenagers to be programmed and produced by a team of co-programmers, that includes Teenagers themselves. The hope is that, by taking such an approach, creative professionals & artists will be able to better reach an increasing number of Teenagers across Europe and cultivate long-term engagement of these Teenagers in the theatrical world. To do this it is: exploring how effective these tools are in different national contexts; embedding digital strategies into the methodology; creating a dialogue between Teenagers and schoolteachers around cultural experiences; working to empower creative professionals to work closer together with Teenagers; and researching how Teenagers, programmers, and schoolteachers can establish consensus in order to co-programme performances and festivals.
Many of these activities are already up and running with the first opportunity for intercultural exchange between Teenagers, programme managers, and creative professionals & artists taking place at the Krokusfestival launch event, alongside workshop activities, training sessions, and shared Theatre experiences for all involved. Over the coming months, the TEEN Action Groups will be meeting across Europe to engage in local and regional activities before coming back together at the ASSITEJ [International Association of Theatre for Children and Teenagers] Artistic Gathering 2019 (Norway) in September followed by other festivals such as Krokusfestival 2020 (Belgium), La mostra d’Igualada 2020 (Spain), and SEGNI New Generations Festival 2020 (Italy).
The Project Partners acknowledge that the challenge is not to simply increase the number of Teenagers in our Theatre audiences but, more significantly, to deepen the quality of Teenagers’ engagement and instil in them the same enthusiasm for the theatrical art form as that which motivates those who make Theatre. This spirit was captured by one of the visiting creative professionals & artists who attended the launch event, who commented, “As a young artist I see it as one of my many goals […] to lead Teenagers further into the Theatre and art scene and to let them experience how enriching it can be [as a person or artist] to have an active role in it.” A teacher involved with the project stated that she wanted to use the opportunity to, “Learn how to really listen to what Teenagers have to say and pay better attention to their opinions,” while one of the Teenagers reflected simply that, “I hope one day I can go to the Theatre with my friends without being judged by them as a boring person”.
Cristina Cazzola, the Artistic Director of Segni d’infanzia (Italy) and Project Leader of Teenage Ambassadors Across Europe, remarked, “The most crucial aspect to be taken onboard by creative professionals & artists is that of genuine dialogue and listening, conducted in a manner that recognises that Teenagers are not a homogenous group but a collective of individuals with individual tastes, interests, and opinions. […] We are confident that by completing this project, the sector’s call for research into a concrete methodology that may be used to better engage Teenage audiences will be answered by a sustainable, and inclusive approach to Teenage audience development in Europe.”
Programme managers and creative professionals & artists interested in this work may sign up for free Network Membership (and Project Newsletters) at:
The Teenage Ambassadors Across Europe project is co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union. The Project Partners are Segni d’infanzia (Italy), Cultuurcentrum Hasselt (Belgium), Dialogue – The Community Performance Network (United Kingdom), “la Caixa” Foundation (Spain), Scenekunstbruk (Norway), and Teatercentrum in Denmark.