In a climate of continued cuts and difficulties in the arts sector which will limit future possibilities and access for today’s children, local drama school, Bright Young Things (BYT), has aimed to buck the downward trend by joining forces with international actor James Nesbitt to launch a scholarship programme for children whose circumstances might not normally allow them to avail of private drama and confidence building classes.

BYT Patron Nesbitt has compounded his belief in the importance of the arts for all young people by supporting a full year’s membership to BYT for two lucky young people, aged between 3-18 from across Northern Ireland; one in BYT Magherafelt and one in BYT Belfast.  Their time at BYT will be mentored by founder and director Lisa Duffy and their progress followed by James Nesbitt himself.

Nesbitt said: “It gives me great pleasure to support the BYT scholarship programme. Drama and performing arts training from an early age can be key in developing personality, social skills, confidence, and of course, it is also a great way of nurturing a natural talent who may not have had the opportunity otherwise.”

Lisa, who is a professional actor, qualified teacher and performing arts lecturer, added: “The Arts provide skills not just for the stage, but more importantly they equip young people with skills for school, for home and for life. And there is a growing lack of arts in our schools’ curricula so it is vital that we encourage it out of home and school.”

“Through games, improvisation, storytelling, music, movement, team-building activities, performance and more, our courses at BYT ignite curiosity and encourage self-belief in each and every one of our 3-18 year old members.  And we have an outrageous amount of fun doing it!”

Applications for the scholarship are available from the BYT website at . Young people aged between 3-18 can enter themselves or parents can enter on behalf of their child, depending on age and ability.

Lisa explained: “This is the first time that Jimmy and BYT have offered to support and fund two members for a whole year of award winning drama training and confidence building at both BYT schools.  We expect a huge response to Jimmy’s Scholarship and want to ensure that the most deserving young people are awarded this opportunity.  Therefore highest priority will be given to applicants who currently have financial barriers to attending a class like BYT.

“We’re all about opening up kids’ creative sides, so we’d like to encourage video entries: loads of fun for applicants to make on their phones and a great chance for us to see a creative sparkle that we might feel the need to ignite and encourage through BYT!

“Entrants can let their imaginations go wild with the 30 second clip: we’re hoping to some of them perform a funny poem or show us their best impression; pull some of their wackiest facial expressions or recreate a scene from a favourite book with puppets. They could make a crazy costume, shoot a documentary of their favourite place, show off a favourite party trick, or just tell us a wee story!  Most importantly we just want to see sparks of personality and lots of fun while they’re doing it!”

But while Lisa is all about fun for the kids, she also concluded with a serious note saying: “We know that there are children across Northern Ireland who really need a boast in confidence and self-esteem. We know there are children who are naturally creative but have nowhere to explore this talent.  With this scholarship, we want to open up the opportunities and invaluable benefits that drama can bring to children who currently face barriers to joining a class or school.”

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