Youth Theatre Arts Scotland (YTAS) would like to extend our heartfelt thanks and warmest wishes to our fantastic supporters across the world, in particular, to the fans of our patron Sam Heughan, who have gone above and beyond to help us with their recent fundraising efforts.
To the Heughligans, whose #Dram4Sam celebration of Sam’s 40th birthday recently raised a massive £3,800 and counting, we thank you and send all of our love. You’re all so generous, and your money will be put to great use here in Scotland. Your support is very much appreciated, and vital to the long-term sustainability of our charity.
Supporting YTAS helps support hundreds of youth groups all across Scotland
YTAS is experiencing significantly increased demand for our support services due to the pandemic, from groups, volunteers and professionals all across Scotland. This is especially concerning for the many disadvantaged young people, communities and professionals YTAS and our members engage together.
We responded quickly to these needs by establishing a range of new COVID-19 support activities over the last few months, which include online forums and new sector guidance, resources and training, as well as moving activities online where we can. However, we have been limited in what we can offer due to the impact that COVID-19 has had on our own finances.
Support from our donors directly impacts tens-of-thousands of young people all across Scotland, and will be particularly beneficial for disadvantaged young people, communities and freelance workers. Any funds we raise beyond our charity’s limited needs will go directly to help them survive and thrive.
The impact of COVID-19 on the youth theatre sector in Scotland
Prior to lockdown, 16500 young people took part in youth theatre activity every week across Scotland, supported by 1800 adult staff and volunteers in 341 venues. COVID-19 ended all this activity, and its associated benefits, within a week. Tens-of-thousands of young people have been cut off from their weekly peer and professional support, and hundreds of charity youth groups and freelance workers have lost their core purpose (and income).
The impact of COVID-19 was so significant for the sector because most of the income of Scotland’s youth theatres comes from participation fees and fundraising events. Less than a third of groups receive any funding from local authorities (local government), trust funds or sponsorship.
But the impact isn’t just financial. YTAS and other national bodies have recorded a number of other issues in recent months. Many young people, and their leaders, are experiencing:
- increased feelings of isolation from friends, peers and professionals,
- a lack of purpose due to cancelled creative and social activities,
- increased concern about their wellbeing, especially mental health,
- increased concern about their future due to the loss of work, earnings and diminished future opportunities,
- a lack of confidence, skills and resources which will enable them to adapt to a ‘new normal’ in their work and community.
The impact of COVID-19 on YTAS
YTAS had to cancel and postpone a series of our national training events and activities between March-August 2020. We now expect to scale-back further into 2020 and 2021, due to stalled planning and fundraising with our venues and partners. As well as ensuring the ongoing development of Scotland’s youth theatre sector, these events generate vital income for our charity. This is because only 50% of YTAS’s turnover comes from Creative Scotland public funding, with the rest coming from event fees and fundraising.
Our CEO, staff and board decided that suspending staff and operations wasn’t an option for us at this time. YTAS is the only dedicated support organisation for the youth theatre sector, which comprises hundreds of youth groups, volunteers and freelance arts professionals who are contacting us on a weekly basis struggling to survive: our role and services are needed now more than ever.
Instead, the YTAS team have reached out to our current funders and donors to ask them to sustain their support as well as making significant cutbacks across our budgets. Even despite these considerable adjustments, the loss of our 2020 project fees and fundraising will leave YTAS with a challenging gap in our income by the end of the year.
This is why support from around the world in the name of our patron, Sam Heughan, is so appreciated at this vital time. We thank all of our donors, all around the world, for their continued generosity and goodwill in the face of this unprecedented situation.