A new scheme is offering youngsters from areas of high deprivation the chance to get involved in acting.
The Exchange, in North Shields, is offering free spaces at youth theatre programmes thanks to support from supply chain management firm The NBT Group.
The company will sponsor 110 free places to those in receipt of free school meals or families entitled to Working Tax Credits.
On hand to help launch the event was North East actor Robson Green, showing his support for arts and culture.
The Exchange, which opened in January 2016, runs a variety of weekly sessions for all ages including its Young Youth Theatre and dance choreography classes as well as supporting the local arts, culture and creativity in the region.
Toby Bridges, CEO at The NBT Group, said: “Due to the contribution from The NBT Group, Karen and the team are now starting to see all of their hard work pay off.
“We are extremely pleased that we are able to offer support to such a fantastic opportunity that’s close to our hearts and reach audiences from areas of high deprivation that may not usually have access to the arts.
“At The NBT Group we are passionate about individuals growing to reach their full potential and improve their confidence. Children are our future leaders, teachers and creatives and the skills they will obtain from their workshops can be really beneficial for later life, even if the career path they take is completely different to the arts.”
Karen Knox, artistic director at The Exchange, said: “Our youth programmes at The Exchange offer young people the chance to grow and improve their confidence, as well as developing their skills in acting, singing and dancing.
“We strongly believe that the arts should be accessible to everyone and thanks to Toby and The NBT Group, we can now offer places to young people who may not have had the opportunity before.”
Robson Green said: “If you really want to build an avenue into the arts and you live in the North East of England then The Exchange is the place to be.
“It’s a really great life-affirming story what’s going on here.
“I see myself in these young people and whether you want to make a living being in the arts, or just use it as a confidence building exercise, it’s the perfect venue to do that.”
To express interest for one of the free spaces, contact The Exchange directly by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 0191 258 411 to arrange a taster session.