Five new members have joined our Youth Advisory Board (YAB) and their ideas, with fellow YAB members, are influencing our response to COVID-19.

The YAB, which reports directly into our main board, is made up of 30 young people aged 9-18 from all over the country. The five new recruits are all from York and Northampton.

The latest members of the YAB are: Edie (14), Freya (15), Izzy (15) from York, and Ashton (11) and Sayana (15) from Northampton. All of them join the YAB for an initial term of two years and are committed to taking on a leadership role within their local schools and communities to promote the value of arts learning and Shakespeare. A further four recruits will join the YAB later this year from Birmingham and Hull.

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The group, which meets regularly throughout the year, held its latest meeting online due to the current lockdown restrictions. As well as considering the impact that COVID-19 is having on young people, they discussed how the RSC could respond and what sorts of creative challenges and resources would be useful for children and young people under the current circumstances.

Our Director of Education Jacqui O’Hanlon explains: “The current crisis has presented us all with enormous challenges and none more so than the thousands of young people coping with homeschooling and preparing for GCSE and A-level exams in 2021 whilst under lockdown.

group of young people seated on the floor absorbed in a workshop
A training session for our young Shakespeare Ambassadors
Photo by Sam Allard © RSC Browse and license our images

"What came across loud and clear from our YAB is that young people are finding the lack of social interaction very difficult and are actively looking for ways of connecting with other, like-minded people and communities. They are also having very different experiences of home learning.

“They unanimously agreed that creative challenges to stimulate thinking, support learning and preserve mental well-being are particularly welcome at this time. We fed this directly back to our Senior Leadership and Education teams and the final shape of both our #ShareYourShakespeare campaign and our new activity toolkits were influenced by that input from the YAB.”

We work with hundreds of thousands of young people every year through our education work. The YAB is a chance for children and young people to voice their opinions and ideas and contribute directly to our vision and planning.