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NYT’s HQ Transformation (Your News)

NYT’s HQ Transformation (Your News)

By Paul Johnson

The National Youth Theatre (NYT) has been awarded £2million from the Mayor of London’s Good Growth Fund to undergo a major renovation to its Holloway Road building in North London.
The radical development will enable NYT to double the number of young people they engage in the building through their annual programme which provides, free and affordable drama opportunities that champion diversity, creativity and routes into the creative industries.
The essential upgrade will secure and develop this thriving production hub for young people where creative on-stage, off-stage and digital talent of the future will receive world-class training and development opportunities that offer free and affordable alternative routes into the creative industries.
The building will include a new front pavilion, providing a fully accessible entrance from Holloway Road that is welcoming to all and including a new rehearsal studio and reception. A new 200-seat studio ‘workshop’ theatre, three rehearsal spaces and a co-working space will also be created within the existing building, allowing NYT to double the number of young people coming into the building with future plans for a new Pocket Park to the south entrance in partnership with London Borough of Islington to improve air quality in the immediate location on the Holloway Road.
The studio workshop theatre will stage performances by NYT members from around the UK, NYT’s flagship free talent development companies the NYT REP, Playing Up and Stepping Up, and other new work by NYT Associate Companies and emerging creatives. The NYT will continue to stage work in the West End, and at leading theatres elsewhere in London and around the UK.
The new spaces will be made available to young people from Islington, London and nationwide to create new work together. School groups from around the UK will also be able to participate in regular skills workshops at the venue and see new NYT curriculum productions, which last year included Frankenstein, Great Expectations and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
The new creative co-working space will provide opportunities for emerging playwrights, producers and theatre companies and embed NYT’s established Creative Leadership programme. The Creative Leadership programme provides free training and a structured route into paid leadership roles within the NYT and across the creative industries.
These new facilities will enable the expansion of NYT’s award- winning social inclusion programmes, Playing Up & Stepping Up continuing the organisation’s vital work with even more young people not in education, training or employment by providing opportunities to develop creative practice and gain accredited qualifications. Now in its 11th year, Playing Up has proved hugely successful with 85% of participants progressing into employment, further training or education opportunities. Applications for the 2020 Playing Up and Stepping Up cohorts are now open.
Building work will commence in May with the opening of the new building planned for Spring 2021.
Through support from Arts Council England with a £500k grant, NYT is also delighted to have secured the 999-year lease for the Holloway Rd building, which has been home to NYT since 1987. Having previously been faced with a declining lease the NYT has taken this positive step to cement the future of the venue for years to come. The expansion will ensure long-term sustainability for NYT to continue its work nationally at a time where it is more vital than ever due to the sharp and continuing decline of arts provision in schools.
A resolution to grant planning approval for this radical redevelopment was confirmed from Islington Council on 14 January. Fundraising is continuing for the final 4.5% of the costs of the project.
Over its sixty-four years, the world’s first youth theatre has worked with hundreds of thousands of young people, many of whom have passed through its doors in Holloway Road.
From alumni Daniel Craig, who also helped to paint the walls when the organisation first moved into the building, to Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rosamund Pike and Matt Smith rehearsing their London stage debuts at the venue, to Matthew Warchus embarking on his first directorial role.
Originally a 19th Century music hall designed by Scottish architect George Truefitt known as ‘Holloway Hall’, the building also hosted rehearsals for James Graham’s first paid commission Tory Boyz and the NYT Team Welcome Ceremonies at the 2012 Olympics & Paralympics.
Other famous alumni who rehearsed as teenagers at Holloway Road include Zawe Ashton, David Oyelowo, Orlando Bloom, Adeel Akhtar, David Walliams, Matt Lucas, Jessica Hynes, Gareth Pugh and Sope Dirisu, among others.

The NYT hosted its annual fundraising gala in February to the theme Baroque ‘n’ Roll at Spencer House. The event was attended by VIP guests, past alumni and current NYT performers and featured music and theatre performances, auctions and fundraising events to raise a record-breaking £230k.
Hosted by NYT Patron & Alumnus Hugh Bonneville, music came from Beverley Knight, among others, and was attended by NYT’s Royal Patron HRH The Earl of Wessex.