SWINDON’S professional theatre company has received national recognition for helping talented young performers during the Covid pandemic.

In 2020, Prime Theatre worked with officers from the council’s children’s services team to launch creative activities and qualifications for more than 3,000 young people around the borough.

Riley Mathers, 24, joined the programme during the first lockdown and went on to earn three Arts Award qualifications, including the highest level - Gold.

He said: “I hadn’t engaged with Prime before 2020. I’m not a performer so I thought a theatre company would not have opportunities for me, but I was wrong. I explored design, writing and digital creation. Now I’m trained to help others achieve Arts Awards and can’t wait to help others.”

Prime is the only professional theatre company in Swindon for young people and was founded in 1986. It tours theatre productions for children, families and young adults across the UK. Last year alone, it engaged with more than 15,000 people.

Prime Theatre’s creative project officer Helen Morley said: “When Covid hit, we had to stop delivering our programmes in person and moved online. Young people planned and enjoyed all kinds of creative workshops and festivals, music, drama, poetry, digital and painting.

"We’re thrilled so many earned Arts Awards to celebrate their skills.”

Trinity College London approved the qualifications its young participants earn and deemed the company a National Arts Award Champion Centre to inspire others with this partnership.

Jen Jones from Swindon Borough Council added: “It’s overwhelming to be given national recognition on behalf of Swindon’s young talent. Arts Awards are suitable for all, including those with additional needs and those who prefer not to write as most activity can be recorded digitally or validated by a trained member of staff. 

“We want everyone to get involved, particularly those who may be experiencing challenges in their lives.”

Arts Awards qualifications recognise effort as well as achievement and support young creatives aged five to 25 in developing a range of skills, no matter what their personal ability or situation.

The five qualifications range from entry level to UCAS points for higher education or employment.

Swindon Borough Council provides free access for many young people to take Arts Awards with Prime Theatre and participation is tailored to suit individual needs and time frames. For more information, call 01793 614864 or email info@primetheatre.co.uk