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The NRW Workgroup of Theatres for Young Audiences

The Workgroup of Theatres for Young Audiences in North Rhine-Westphalia (Arbeitskreis der Theater für junges Publikum in Nordrhein-Westfalen, AK TjP NRW) is a coalition of professional, NRW-based theatre ensembles – with and without a venue of their own – who produce and perform theatre for young audiences. These ensembles are members of ASSITEJ Germany.

Municipal and regional theatres, independent ensembles and theatre collectives have come together in this workgroup to stand up for the interests and future development of theatre for young audiences with the aim of ensuring that every child and teen has access to arts & culture. The workgroup acts as a formal representative of these interests on a political level as well as towards the public at large. The terms of their cooperation, along with the goals of the workgroup, are laid out in the charter jointly adopted by the association’s members.

Opportunities for exchange and collaboration between freelance artists and various theatres serve to enrich experiences and increase resources. Moreover, the workgroup is able to pool a diverse array of interests based on different operating principles and funding structures and translate them into clear common demands. This takes place in regular workgroup meetings as well as in taskforces dedicated to specific topics. In addition, the workgroup hosts an annual conference where its members may convene for several days to focus on jointly selected matters of interest or pressing issues. External experts pose a particular asset and are often brought in for occasions such as these.

The NRW theatre scene for young audiences features innovative approaches and formats for and – increasingly – with children and teens. Many new productions are developed here each year: world premieres, original creations, German-language premieres, exciting adaptations of classic literature and reflections on current events as well as works from the vast repertoire of children’s and youth theatre are presented to the audience as works of drama, dance and performance art. In addition to works for the stage, performances in public spaces and contributions by touring groups are gaining visibility, as they bring theatre to special places such as schools, youth centres and day care facilities in urban and rural areas.

In addition to exchange opportunities within the national and international scenes as well as with politicians, the workgroup considers it vital to establish and maintain networks with schools, kindergartens, family centres and children’s & youth facilities as well as paediatricians, universities and educational institutions, cultural institutes, sports clubs, music schools and other associations.

The workgroup already has a good relationship with the state Ministry of Culture and Science, and its NRW Education Partnerships Taskforce ensures it remains in constant dialogue with both that ministry as well as the state Ministry for Schools and Education. As a next step, the workgroup strives to incorporate the state Ministry for Children, Family, Refugees and Integration into its network.

Makers of theatre for young audiences are not always adequately funded. The fight for sufficient funding of arts & culture for young audiences has become a common goal of all workgroup members. Implementing lasting structures, developing reliable partnerships and securing sufficient funding are among the core tasks of the NRW Workgroup of Theatres for Young Audiences.

At its session on 05.09.2022, the following workgroup spokespeople were appointed for a period of 3 years:

Anne Verena Freybott, Theater Oberhausen
Kirstin Hess, Junges Schauspielhaus Düsseldorf
Manuel Moser, COMEDIA Theater, Köln
Julia-Huda Nahas, Freischaffende Regisseurin, u.a. BITTER (SWEET) HOME