How do I set up a youth theatre?

If you're thinking about setting up a youth theatre, our Big Youth Theatre Manual is a great place to start as it provides information and advice on all aspects of youth theatre, you can purchase it from our online shop for just £18.  We also have a list of useful questions to consider before you embark as well as some advice about good practice measures, you can download this document here (opens as PDF in new window).

Does NAYT provide funding for youth theatres?

NAYT is an educational charity and, unfortunately, not in a position to offer financial support. We have included some advice in the next question that may be able to help you with your fundraising.

Where can we look for funding opportunities?

We would first of all advise you to put together a fundraising plan and look at long term sustainable funding, this is important to enable you to forward plan as an organisation and because of the client group you will be working with, a sense of continuity and secured provision is vital.

We would advise you to contact your local Council for Voluntary Services who will be able to give you access to Funderfinder which will inform you of trusts and charities whose charitable aims are matched with yours, are you registered as a charity? As most trusts require you to be before you can apply, if not you will need to either register or find a partner organisation who is registered and willing to apply on your behalf. Some Trusts and Foundations that we know of and that might match your criteria are:

  • The Clore Duffield Foundation 
  • The Brian Mercer Charitable Trust
  • The D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust
  • The Eranda Foundation
  • The Esmee Fairbairn Foundation
  • The Foyle Foundation
  • Garfield Weston Foundation
  • The Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation 
  • The John Ellerman Foundation
  • The Kobler Trust
  • The Mackintosh Foundation
  • The Rayne Foundation

You should be able to find out more information by searching for them on the internet.

Other suggestions would be to talk to your local education authority and find out if you could access any Extended Schools money or if they have any funding via community education or youth services. You should have a local Children’s Fund Officer based within your local authority so find out who they are and make contact. Ask about Children’s Trust Boards as well, they may not exist yet but the local authority will be establishing them soon. Even if they don’t have funding it would be a good political move to have an involvement. Your local Connexions office may also be useful and some authorities have a scheme called PAYP (positive activities for young people) which has funding attached to it but we’re not sure if these exist in every authority.

There is a huge amount of work to do when you embark on a fundraising campaign and the key is to have a very clear strategy from the outset, this often seems daunting but it will help you in the long term. Resist the temptation to just send in a few random applications!

Where should I go for insurance for my youth theatre?

We recommend NODA Insurance who have been arranging insurance for theatres and the theatrical market for over 10 years.  Members and Enhanced Members are able to access specialist policies with a dedicated service, including cover for:

·         Buildings & Contents

·         Public Liability

·         Property

·         Abandonment

·         Personal Accident

·         Money

·         Trustees & Officers Indemnity Insurance

Find out more about how NODA Insurance can help your theatre or group by clicking here, or by calling 0845 130 1368.

You can also receive instant online quotes for the following products:

Where can we buy performance rights for a specific play?

This depends on who has published the script, this should be detailed in the original copy but you may need to search online.  You should also bear in mind that you will need permission to use certain music or a score.  For further information, please see information on the Voluntary Arts website.

Does NAYT process DBS checks?

Unfortunately NAYT does not offer this service but you can search for an umbrella body in your region if you follow this link Umbrella Body Search | Home Office.

Does NAYT have a sample Child Protection Policy?

NAYT has a Safeguarding Policy which incorporates Child Protection. Safeguarding Children and Young People is much broader than child protection and NAYT would like all youth theatres to develop a safeguarding policy. If you are a Member or an Enhanced Member of NAYT you can view or download our sample policies from the website.

What is the required ratio of adults to young people in a youth theatre?

NAYT provides guidelines about the required ratio of adults to young people in our Safeguarding Policy, if you are a Member you can view or download our sample policies from our website.  You may also want to check with your local authority children's services for specific guidelines.

What are the guidelines on taking photographs and film footage of my youth theatre members?

You must ensure that you read and adhere to guidelines before taking any photography or film footage of the young people you work with as you will require parental consent.  NAYT provides guidelines about this within our Safeguarding Policy, as well as sample consent forms.  If you are a Member you can download these documents for free. 

Does our youth theatre require child performance licenses?

As the law stands each Local Authority can interpret it in their own way. However, strictly speaking, in youth theatre no licences should ever be required because it’s a voluntary educational activity, not commercial and if time off school is not required there should be no need for a licence.  We do know of cases where youth theatres are made to licence and chaperone their young people by their Local Authority, you would need to contact your Local Authority about this.

How much should we pay our staff?

If you are a Member, you can download our Paid Staff and Volunteers’ Code of Conduct sample policy.  However, here is some general advice about what to base the rate of pay upon:

•             Level of skill and experience you expect the staff member to have

•             Level of responsibility you expect them to take on

•             Level of support you are able and willing to give them

•             How much planning and preparation you expect from them

•             How much research you expect them to do

•             How much contact time with young people and with what regularity

•             How much administration

•             Is it a long term or a short term commitment?

•             Allowances for lack of sick/holiday pay

As a loose guide we believe the sector is paying their youth theatre leaders between £10 and £30 per hour. NAYT recommends that hourly rates should begin no lower than £15 per hour and that an experienced practitioner should charge £25 to £30 per hour. This is based on the planning and delivery of a 1.5 to 2 hour workshop or rehearsal.

Are there any festivals for our youth theatre to take part in?

Yes, NAYT's Associate Venues produce Regional Youth Theatre Festivals (RYTFs) for young people to showcase their work and to learn new skills through a workshop programme. Youth theatre practitioners have the opportunity to watch and discuss each others productions and share ideas and problems. As well as celebrating young peoples achievements, the RYTFs are a fantastic opportunity for young peoples' training and development.  You can check our Events page here and find out where your local NAYT Associate Venue is here.

You can find out about other festivals on the British Arts Festivals Association website.

Where can I go for accredited youth theatre training?

There is no accredited training specifically for youth theatre practitioners. NAYT are currently researching accredited training options and hope to be able to offer accredited training in the future. In the meantime our bespoke training, although not accredited will be the most useful training you can access.

I'm still at school, what should I do if I want to become a Youth Theatre facilitator?

First of all you need to get some experience. If you are aged over 16, why not contact your local Youth Theatre and ask if there are any voluntary positions available?  You can find your local groups using our Find a Youth Theatre tool. Some youth theatres and theatres will  train and mentor you to become a youth theatre facilitator, but these are few and far between and most will want you to gain some kind of formal qualification.

There are a number of degree courses that cover elements of Youth Theatre practice, although there is currently no specific course available.  A degree or diploma in Drama, Applied Theatre, Education, Community Drama or Performing Arts will provide a good base but we also recommend you seek work experience. 

For more information about available courses, please visit the following sites:


Federation of Drama Schools

UK Course Finder