Paul Roseby OBE joined us to talk about the National Youth Theatre’s Hub, a new, accessible subscription service in replacement of audition fees.
As well as an audition or interview to become a NYT member, the Hub subscription includes a new online platform that will give users access to live and pre-recorded workshops with actors and online resources for only £2 a month or £24 for the year. The new £2-a-month model represents a 48% reduction from last year in the cost of joining the company.
Young people can subscribe to the new scheme here
Towards the end of last year you launched The Hub, what can you tell us about it?
The Hub is an online subscription that opens up access to everything our creative community at National Youth Theatre has to offer and anyone aged 11-26 can sign up today. From interactive industry workshops to opportunities to make work with other young creatives and network, the Hub is designed to help young people crack the code. It provides immediate access to the creative industries to young creatives anywhere in the UK and attempts to lift the perceived mystery and barriers. It’s just £2-a-month to sign up with bursaries and fee waivers available and also includes an acting audition, backstage interview, training courses and much more.
Tell us more about some of the fantastic resources that are available?
At National Youth Theatre we learn by doing it and we’ve got some inspiring practical sessions including Rosamund Pike on how to film a self-tape, dramatist James Graham on how to start writing and director Prasanna Puwanarajah on taking an idea from page to page. The Hub also offers creative leadership and inclusive practice training, online showcases curated by young talent and weekly meet-ups where you can ask for advice and meet collaborators. There’s at least two Q&As with leading industry voices a month that you can take part in live, and you can also access all content afterwards on-demand
How does the Hub change your audition process?
We first trialled digital auditions before the pandemic right at the start of 2020 and even though we were auditioning at 90+ venues around the UK, we found that digital auditions helped us reach young people we couldn’t otherwise. This year we’ve gone 100% digital due to the pandemic with a first round self-tape submission and a second interactive round on Zoom. After the lockdowns have ended we’re envisaging a hybrid process that offers digital options and the chance to be in the room so people can choose what suits them and is most accessible.
This is a brand-new pricing model, what was it that drove the change?
The financial challenges any arts charity faces during and post this pandemic are without precedent, and we are sadly no exception. Despite this we knew it was time to drastically reduce our fees to all young people who will need our unique offer now more than ever before. Over the last two years hundreds of young people have auditioned for free through our Auditions Access Fund, fee-waivers and bursary scheme, but we understand that price can still be a barrier. At £2-a-month the Hub offers great value, makes us more accessible than ever and I’m proud that we’re the first youth arts organisation to offer this model.
Does it feel like a risk for the National Youth Theatre, or an opportunity?
The pandemic gave us a choice to hibernate the organisation or increase activity to connect and support young people who are suffering with isolation, disruption to their education and challenges to their mental health. We chose the latter and the success of our online engagement over the past 12 months, reaching over 17000 young people and 10 million audience members, was a catalyst to opening up our opportunities to a wider audience through the Hub.
How do you hope to encourage more people to join?
We’re working with lots of great partners to reach new audiences with the Hub including TikTok, Sky and English Heritage. We’ve also partnered with 10 organisations rooted in communities around the UK through the Auditions Access Fund, thanks to support from our brilliant NYT Patron and alumnus Hugh Bonneville. It includes partners in all four nations of the UK, Black Ticket Project for a second year running and a new partnership with Backstage Niche, who we’re working with to encourage more young people from ethnic backgrounds currently underrepresented in the industry to apply for backstage roles. I hope The Hub will offer accessible support, connectivity and hope to young creatives. They are the future.