Newham Council seeks cultural partner to deliver exciting arts events and opportunities at flagship Stratford Youth Zone

Newham Council’s new flagship Stratford Youth Zone will be collaborating with a cultural partner to deliver a pioneering arts and cultural youth programme to empower and provide opportunities in the creative sector for young people.

Following a decision by Mayor Rokhsana Fiaz and her Cabinet, and in Newham’s Year of the Young Person (YOYP), the council is seeking a partner to support the delivery of exemplary youth services for young people at its new flagship Stratford Youth Zone in Theatre Square.

Through the pioneering collaboration, the council’s Youth Empowerment team will progress with its ambitious plans to offer a range of enriching and empowering opportunities for young people through an exciting curriculum anchored in culture, creativity and the arts.

Expanding exemplary youth provision is a central objective of the council, in line with Mayor Fiaz’s manifesto pledge to double the number of Youth Zones. This supports her commitment to make Newham the best place for a child and young person to grow up, so they can reach their potential and thrive.

Newham’s Youth Zones offer young people an enriching programme of social and emotional learning experiences and activities where they are nurtured, positively challenged, empowered to be confident, make informed choices and reach their potential in life. 

As well as health and wellbeing sessions, support with school work and career advice, the flagship Stratford Youth Zone will offer Newham’s young people a first class Youth Empowerment curriculum anchored in creativity, culture and the performing arts. It will provide pathways into apprenticeships, skills development and employment opportunities in the creative and cultural sector such as theatre, music production and dance. It will also be a transformative and inclusive space for all young people, including those with special educational needs.  

Located in the heart of Newham’s metropolitan and cultural district, the Stratford Youth Zone offers young people access to a range of creative spaces including a 310 seat auditorium, a 90 seat studio theatre and rehearsal space.

To date, the council has invested £496,000 as part of a programme of improvement works to transform the building into a state-of-the-art Youth Zone, with future plans in the pipeline including a recording studio, visual arts studio and dedicated sensory space to expand the creative offer available for young people.

The council will announce its tender process shortly to identify a collaborative partner who will work with the Youth Empowerment Service over the coming years.

While the search is underway, the council has confirmed an innovative partnership with the pioneering and historic Theatre Royal Stratford East until August 2022 to deliver an exciting year-long programme of creative and cultural activities for Newham’s young people. The theatre already runs a successful programme for young people and community groups and in collaboration with the Youth Empowerment Service, will extend this work through this new partnership with the council. 

Councillor Carleene Lee-Phakoe, Cabinet Member for Brighter Futures said: “This is a high profile and exciting opportunity for a leading arts organisation to partner with us and help empower our young people to reach their potential. Our vision for this flagship zone is that it becomes a beacon of cultural engagement with our young people and harnesses the transformative potential of arts. We hope the lessons and learning young people gain from working with leading figures in the cultural sector will help them achieve more positive outcomes for future jobs, education and better lives for themselves, their families and their communities.”

Mayor of Newham Rokhsana Fiaz said: “We are delighted to be working with Theatre Royal Stratford East. We are particularly excited to launch this partnership during our Year of the Young Person, which aims to shine a light on their achievements.

“I have always been proud of the theatre’s historic connection to the borough and reputation for nurturing home-grown talent. This interim partnership and our future plans builds upon our substantial shift to invest in our young people, and our ambition for them. We want all our young people to develop their creative potential and have access to the wealth of enriching cultural opportunities in the borough, and credible pathways into skills for the future and jobs. They deserve nothing less than first class services, irrespective of where they live, and that’s what the Stratford Youth Zone will deliver for them.”

Nadia Fall, artistic director and CEO from the Theatre Royal Stratford East said: “We are delighted to be working with Newham Council and the Youth Empowerment Service to support this first year of operation. We passionately believe that all young people should have access to high quality arts provision, to develop their skills and to discover new creative opportunities. We are so pleased to have this opportunity to expand Theatre Royal’s work through this interim partnership.”

Since May 2018, Mayor Fiaz has significantly increased investment in services for children and young people, committing to an investment of £43 million over a three-year period. This includes £19 million for Youth Empowerment provision, bucking a national trend of disinvestment. This has enabled the expansion of full time youth workers from three in May 2018 to 43, including a pioneering detached youth worker team to help keep young people in our neighbourhoods safe. The number of Youth Zones has also doubled, providing a varied and inclusive range of activities for young people aged between nine and 19 years; and up to 25 years old for young people with special educational needs and disabilities.

The full tender process for the partnership will be completed by April 2022.

Published: 09 Aug 2021