Project aims to ensure disadvantaged kids get the opportunity to visit a theatre

Rockvilla to launch First Launch of First Nights partnership between Wheatley Foundation and the National Theatre of Scotland.
Rockvilla to launch First Launch of First Nights partnership between Wheatley Foundation and the National Theatre of Scotland.

Children from some of Scotland’s most disadvantaged communities are to get their first experience of the theatre, thanks to a new partnership.

Wheatley Foundation, a new charitable trust set up by Wheatley Group, Scotland’s leading housing, care and property management group, has joined forces with the National Theatre of Scotland on their First Nights programme.

It will see 200 young people living in Wheatley Group homes given a ticket to a National Theatre of Scotland show, a chance to meet the actors and creative team from the production, and a behind the scenes tour of the National Theatre of Scotland’s new facility.

They will also be given a theatre workshop and have the cost of their travel and refreshments paid for.

The First Nights project will remove the financial barriers that young people in Scotland’s poorest communities often face in accessing live theatre, broaden their horizons, and help them discover new skills and talents.

It is one of the programmes supported by the Wheatley Foundation, which funds and runs a wide range of social and economic programmes that help thousands of people in Wheatley communities lead better lives.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop welcomed the £10,000 initiative when she launched the scheme at the National Theatre of Scotland’s new home in Glasgow today.

She met some Wheatley Group Modern Apprentices, whose posts are also supported by the Wheatley Foundation.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “I am pleased that the Wheatley Foundation has teamed up with the National Theatre of Scotland to create these first time theatre experiences for young people.

“The Scottish Government is fully committed to widening engagement with culture for all communities and individuals across Scotland. It is important that people of all ages have access to, and participate in the arts.”

Wheatley Foundation Board member, Jean Albert Nietcho, said: “First Nights will allow many children to experience the magic of live theatre for the very first time.

“Poverty is not simply a question of not having enough money to pay for the essentials, it also means the lack of opportunity to take part in things the rest of us take for granted.

“The Wheatley Foundation was set up to tackle the barriers that face people growing up in poverty, create opportunities and help people achieve their ambitions. First Nights is an exciting way to do just that, and we hope it fosters a life-long love of the arts in the young people who take part.”

Wheatley First Nights will take place around a number of National Theatre of Scotland productions, whose themes, subject matter and tone are particularly suitable for different age groups.

The project will run from May to September 2017 and National Theatre of Scotland productions that young people will see include new First World War musical drama, The 306:Day; Adam, the real life story of a young trans Egyptian boy, and Rocket Post, a new show for all ages based on the real life story of a man who tried to set up a postal mail rocket service between the Scottish islands.

Stella Litchfield, Director of Development at National Theatre of Scotland said: “We are delighted to welcome the Wheatley Group on board as a partner in our vital First Nights Programme. Through the Wheatley Group’s vision and support, the National Theatre of Scotland is able to actively demonstrate the Company’s commitment to bringing the experience of live theatre to young people in Scotland, despite the barriers that can often prevent participation”