Over the last few years, Beatfreeks have hosted multiple conversations around young people and politics. We’ve ran campaigns, events and projects to give spaces for young people to express their opinions, learn from each other and become empowered to use their voices.
But it's time we dive deeper into these discussions, like how can young people use their political power when they are not legally allowed to vote and whether young people are taken seriously when they don’t have voting rights. These debates have become even more apparent after the EU referendum. There is a whole generation of young people under the age of 18 who want to express their political views within the political system and the status quo leans towards voting as being that method. How can decision makers represent young people U18 when they are liable to pay income tax but not privy to the right to vote?
In 2017 we began to build around the question “can art be used within democracy to build relationships and create dialogue between decision makers and the young people they represent?” So we adopted and developed various theatre practices under the umbrella of Theatre For Democracy ready to start new projects in 2018.
Theatre is a powerful tool; it allows us to ask questions of the world and how we engage with it. It empowers us to use creativity in ways that can provoke and investigate the things that happen in the world. There are also questions that surround our political system and whether it is broken or flawed, are we able to make our democracy work more effectively at a grassroots level? The word democracy essentially means ‘people power’ and Theatre For Democracy embraces this original meaning. Democracy, in theory, should also allow us to shape the world and communities we live in but does it really? Do people really feel like they can influence and create change through art. How many people speak directly to Decision makers? Theatre Democracy brings decision makers and the people they represent together through theatre. By holding an event based around local topics or issues. We want people to have the confidence to create original pieces of theatre that ask questions. Through the performance events a dialogue is facilitated between an audience of decision makers and the people they represent. With the idea of creating sustainable dialogue that can influence change, build relationships and through art make democracy work for those that need it the most.