When we got news last autumn that the Bank of Ireland were launching a scheme to support artists across the island of Ireland, we wasted no time in bringing it to the attention of some of our young graduate actors and writers.
Two of them, David Evans and Finn Garbutt got back to us straightaway to propose a project with students at Hydebank Wood College. Both David and Finn trained with us at the Lyric Drama Studio before heading off to Drama School: Finn to the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama David to the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. They had both been involved in a number of joint projects between Creative Learning and the NI Prison Service and were experienced in working with young offenders.
They wanted to engage with the young men at Hydebank to help them develop their writing skills and ultimately collate their work into a piece of theatre that could be performed inside and outside the college.
The Creative Learning department had been working with Hydebank students during the lockdown. Some of the staff there had encouraged the lads to do some creative writing – letters, poems and stories – which we then brought together and published in a collection called Locked Up in Lockdown.
The obvious way forward was to develop some of the ideas in the booklet.
Finn and David applied for the funding in October 2020 and were delighted to hear last week that they have been successful. Over the next few months, they will run workshops – on Zoom, until we can work live – meeting with the Hydebank students and helping them to write about their experiences in custody. Later in the year, they will then share the product with other students and the outside world!
We are all excited at the prospect of starting the project and hugely grateful to Bank of Ireland Begin Together Arts Fund and Business to Arts for making it possible.