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  • Writer's pictureTom Bowtell

(Nearly) New Year, (Nearly) New News

Updated: Jan 21, 2020

As 2020 flickers into life we at KIT Theatre are incredibly proud to announce that we have received core funding from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation for the next 3 years in the form of a £300,000 More and Better Grant from their Arts Based Learning fund.

This funding will transform KIT as an organisation, allowing us to expand the delivery of our Adventures in Learning across the UK, reaching thousands more young people facing disadvantage in their lives.

If you’re reading this there’s a decent chance you have an inkling of who KIT are and what we do, but just in case you’ve accidentally arrived here while looking for pictures of the car from Knight Rider, here's a brief explainer:

What? KIT creates playful, immersive theatre for (and with) young people which develops creativity, empathy & critical thinking while supporting their curriculum learning. We collaborate with schools and teachers to help spark creative (r)evolution in the places where young people learn. As well as schools, our adventures often erupt in museums, with recent collaborators including Natural History Museum and the Imperial War Museum, with whom we created the award-winning D-Day: Family Mission.

Who? KIT Theatre was founded in 2015 with a vision to use immersive theatre to support the emergence of a generation of confident, critically questioning and creative young people. We have an HQ made up of me, Tom Bowtell (Director), Anna Myers (Producer) and Monique Kellay (Administrator). [Job titles are broad, we all do a fair amount of everything.] Working alongside our bijou HQ is an amazing team of artists who are experts in creating work for and with young people (if you're looking for an artist to work with on a project for Young People, do drop us a line and we'll festoon you with excellent suggestions.) You can meet some of KIT's associates here.

How? The Adventures in Learning model is at the heart of every KIT project, developing a line of work which began during my time as a co-director of Coney and has now engaged more than 15,000 young people across the UK. Adventures in Learning erupt unexpectedly, disrupt normal, formal structures, and cast young people as heroes in missions which can take anything from a few hours to several weeks to complete. The model draws influence from participatory immersive theatre, Alternate Reality Gaming and the Mantle of the Expert theories developed by Dorothy Heathcote.

Where? KIT works in London, Essex, Birmingham and Manchester, partnering with theatres such as Battersea Arts Centre, KILN, Birmingham REP and Manchester Royal Exchange.

To see KIT’s work in action, here’s a 4-minute film we made about our time-travelling extravaganza, Wardrobes, which saw 600 children from Birmingham rescue a bunch of accidental Victorian Time travellers. We have also been having a lot of fun haunting beautiful buildings with our Digital Ghost Hunt, co-created with Elliott Hall at King’s Digital Lab.

KIT 2.0 – 2020-2023 The core funding we have received has allowed KIT to move into a cosy new home at BAC’s Scratch Hub and will allow us to expand our work to 2 new regions – Scarborough and Liverpool, where we'll work with young people who face a range of disadvantages in their lives. It is also allowing us to work with a crack team of academics to explore and measure the impact and legacy of our work.

While we’re growing, we'll stay small which means we can only succeed by working in partnership with theatres, museums and libraries and, perhaps most importantly, teachers, parents and young people. We also work closely with extraordinary organisations including Ministry of Stories, Discover Story Centre and Grimm and Co, collectively making the case for creativity in education. If you’d like to collaborate with us, or just to come by for a coffee and a chat, please drop us a line.

Over the next few months, key players from KIT’s world will be writing posts to explain a bit more about what we’re up to, but for now, here’s an (un-coerced) quote from a young person describing their experience on an Adventure in Learning: “It’s like reading a book for the first time, or going on holiday for the first time: I feel like I can do everything.” (Year 3 Pupil, Birmingham)

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