Standing up for creativity in rural communities

“Everybody should have access to great art and storytelling. This is something that's at the core of Settle Stories. We're in a tiny rural town with circa 2,500 people. Yes, this has its advantages. It's a beautiful part of the world. There's a great sense of community. BUT access to the arts here is very limited. One of the key groups this affects the most is young people with limited transport and money.”

Charles Tyrer, Communications and Events Manager.

Whilst popular opinion seems to be that young people just don’t see the arts as ‘something cool to do’, research shows that actually the one activity that young people are most likely to engage in is the arts, in one form or another. Whilst traditional types of arts do indeed suffer in terms of attendance from the young adult sector, more modern art forms such as concerts, music and arts festivals are among some of the activities most attended by young people.

Young adults often rely on lower wages and part-time jobs whilst studying, or allowances from parents and these amounts have to stretch a long way. This means that often some of the more traditional arts pursuits such as the theatre may be outside their financial reach. Arts venues which are offering lower prices or incentivised attendance are seeing greater engagement from this age group.

Similarly, those young adults who live in smaller, more rural communities can really suffer when it comes to having more affordable access to the arts. Usually, whilst cheaper arts events happen within cities, getting to those cities may be expensive and restrictive, meaning that young adults from these areas often end up missing out entirely.

Settle Stories is one arts organisation which is working hard this year to help young adults access the events and workshops that they run through their new Arts Freedom Pass. I spoke to Charles Tyrer, Communications and Events Manager about the new scheme. . .

Q: What was the idea behind introducing the scheme?

Everybody should have access to great art and storytelling. This is something that's at the core of Settle Stories. We're in a tiny rural town with circa 2,500 people. Yes, this has its advantages. It's a beautiful part of the world. There's a great sense of community. BUT access to the arts here is very limited. One of the groups this affects the most is young people with limited transport and money. I've experienced this first hand. I was a young person here once. Whilst not quite a local lad, I moved to Settle when I was 14, having lived in a much more urban place. Not surprisingly given my job now, I was interested in the arts, particularly performance. 

I lived in a tiny rural village outside of Settle. Getting to see any theatre was problematic. Sure, you can get the train into Leeds to go to the theatre BUT you can't get the train back on the same night. There are no trains. Add into the mix the expense of going to see high quality art and the limited budgets that young people often face and you can understand that living in a rural area makes theatre and the arts pretty inaccessible. 

We want great art to be accessible for everyone. We know that if young people attend arts events at an early age they are more likely to be attenders in later life. We want to be a part of young peoples creative journeys here in Settle, to give them access to great art that encourages a life long passion for the arts. 

Settle Stories programmes high quality art in our rural part of the Yorkshire Dales. We've always done well in attracting different audiences due to our eclectic programming and outreach work through our Learning Programme. We've done brilliantly in providing access to the arts for the most marginalised and vulnerable in our community through collaborative art and story projects with other local groups and charities. We believe in this work. We have seen first hand its value and we want it to continue.

We are always looking at new ways to engage new audiences. The Arts Freedom Pass is a way of doing this, to build stronger links with young people in our community. 

Through the Arts Freedom Pass, young adults aged between 14 and 25 can come to nearly all paid for events for just £1. 

Q: How does the Arts Freedom Scheme work then? How do young people get their tickets?

Young adults aged between 14 and 25 years old can come to nearly all our shows for just £1.

To get the £1 tickets, young adults have to sign up to our Arts Freedom Pass via our website. It is a quick and easy sign-up process online. Tickets can then be purchased either by telephone or email.

In addition, those who have an Arts Freedom Pass can bring a friend who's not signed up to the scheme for just £5. Hopefully that will encourage more young people to sign up to the scheme so they can get their £1 ticket as well.  Also, being part of the scheme offers lots of other benefits such as exclusive news, access to workshops and discounts to workshops and retreats.

Q: Do they have to come with a full paying adult or ticket holder or can they come alone?

Nope, they can just come by themselves. 

Q: Is there a ‘family’ pass option?

There isn't a family pass option, but Settle Stories always offer family priced tickets to our events in addition to offering low cost and or FREE events. The Arts Freedom Pass is offered particularly to young adults who would prefer to attend arts events on their own or with friends, not with their parents.

The best way to keep in the loop about family events is to join our mailing list by clicking here.

Q: Is the scheme live now? or is there an official launch date?

The scheme is now live.

The next exciting event young people can attend for just £1 is Stories under the Stars, myths and folktales around the campfire at Lower Winskill Farm.

So, what are you waiting for readers? Sign up now. It's really simple and only takes a couple of minutes. Just click here.

 

By Charlotte Furness

Images: Tony Crossland