ATYP IMPACT EVALUATION: Exploring the impact of youth theatre on the mental health and wellbeing of young Australians
ATYP Impact Evaluation
Acknowledgements This report was prepared for the Australian Theatre for Young People (ATYP) by Tandi Palmer Williams and Brooke Boyce of Patternmakers. The authors would like to acknowledge the individuals involved in ATYP, including tutors, participants, parents and carers, alumni, donors and ATYP staff. Particular thanks go to those who took the time to participate in the evaluation. ATYP and Patternmakers acknowledge the traditional owners of the land and the contribution of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia past, present and future.
About the Australian Theatre for Young People (ATYP) Established in 1963, ATYP is Australiaâ€™s national youth theatre company. ATYP exists to help young people find their voice and together, inspire all Australians. The Companyâ€™s vision is to forever raise expectations of what theatre with young people can achieve. For any questions, please contact Amy Maiden, ATYP General Manager, on email@example.com.
About Patternmakers Patternmakers is a research agency that specialises in arts and culture. It was established to inform, inspire and empower creative professionals with data. For any questions, please contact Tandi Palmer Williams, Patternmakers Managing Director, on firstname.lastname@example.org.
ATYP Impact Evaluation
Contents Executive summary 01 Introduction 02 Approach 03 Skills and experiences at ATYP 04 ATYP’s impact 06 ATYP’s ingredients for impact 07 Conclusion Appendix A: Evaluation participant profile Appendix B: Drivers of participation and reasons for leaving ATYP
4 9 12 14 18 33 40 41 47
ATYP Impact Evaluation
Executive summary According to Mission Australia's 2016 Youth Survey almost one in four young Australians has a probable serious mental illness and their concerns about mental health doubled between 2011 and 2016. In 2017, Australian Theatre for Young People (ATYP), the country's oldest and largest youth theatre company, commissioned arts research agency Patternmakers to evaluate the impact of its work on the mental health and wellbeing of young people. ATYP’s workshops saw some 30,000 young people through the doors in 2016, and the Company wanted to understand where it was having a positive impact and identify opportunities to strengthen its work. This report outlines the findings from new research with ATYP participants and stakeholders, including a survey of 1,247 people, a series of interviews and an online discussion board.
Profile of participants Data collected from participants and parents suggests that ATYP is attracting young people for a range of reasons: some are serious about pursuing a career in theatre, some are looking for fun ways to spend the school holidays and others are following recommendations from parents, friends or, in a small number of cases, charity partners of ATYP. Young people engage with the Company at a pivotal time: of the 609 young people represented in the research, 53% were between 18 and 24 years of age and 47% were 17 or younger. The research showed that ATYP provides a diverse range of opportunities for young people to be involved, such as live streaming of its productions, school holiday workshops, main-stage productions and scholarships. Many young people return again and again to be a part of ATYP’s programs; 35% of the research participants have been involved with ATYP for more than 5 years.
Impacts on participant skills and connections The research questioned participants and parents of participants about the theatre skills they developed during their time at ATYP, and the impacts of their participation on life skills such as confidence and team work. Participants are quick to say that they have fun at ATYP; though, often there is far more being gained. Young people learn a range of skills at ATYP: especially how to act and perform for an audience, how to be storytellers and the art of improvisation. One tutor said, “students learn to be brave, to make new friends and to get out of their comfort zone.” ATYP also helps young people strengthen connections with other young people, their culture and storytellers in their community. Although there were less than 20 Indigenous participants in the research, the data collected suggests that ATYP helps them connect with elders in their community and their culture. This was particularly the case with the ATYP Djuali program, which engaged young people during their transition to high school. Not every experience at ATYP is positive, but the overwhelming majority of participants walk away with helpful, transferable life skills, such as confidence (89%), team work (88%) and inspiration and motivation (83%). 4
ATYP Impact Evaluation
I had never seen theatre that centered itself on the issues of young Australiansâ€Ś The modern-day vernacular reflected our generation and the play reflected the untold reality of my peers that I sat with - from a rural, low-socio economic, Indigenous background.
ATYP Impact Evaluation There appear to be benefits for young people who are confident as well as those who are struggling socially or still learning how to express themselves. One person said, “ATYP helped me to climb out of my shell and embrace the world around me. I used to be extremely introverted and my social anxiety prevented me from achieving anything worthwhile.”
Impact on participant wellbeing Nine out of 10 participants said that ATYP has had a positive impact on their overall wellbeing, and 7 out of 10 said its impact has been very or extremely positive. Further quantitative analysis suggests that there are relationships between skills and cultural connections and overall wellbeing. The following groups were most likely to report very positive impacts on their wellbeing: • Those who agreed that ATYP helped them with Anxiety levels • Those who said ATYP had built their Resilience in coping with challenges • Those who said that ATYP helped them strengthen their connections to Culture, to People in other schools, to Storytellers and to Elders. Very positive impacts appear to be lasting: two thirds (64%) of those who were no longer engaging with the Company reported Very positive or Extremely positive impacts on their overall wellbeing. Quantitative analysis also shows that while the majority of ATYP participants are female, Australian born and live in inner-Sydney, those from all backgrounds are experiencing very positive impacts at similar rates.
Broader impacts As ATYP first began in 1963, this research project includes information collected from adults who first engaged with the Company as far back as the 1970s. Past and present participants were asked whether they apply the skills learned at ATYP to other parts of their lives, and the results suggest the Company's impact is far reaching. For those who are serious about a career in the theatre, ATYP provides the skills and connections young people need to explore their creativity. Many successful theatre and screen professionals participating in this research look back on their time at ATYP as formative experiences. The impacts are not limited to those who follow an artistic career. In fact, many past participants involved in this research are not performers. They are, nonetheless, continuing to benefit from the skills learned at ATPY’s programs many years – or even decades – after their time at ATYP came to an end. One carer said that the theatre skills learned gave ATYP’s students, “a super power, the power to express themselves in creative ways, and to empathise with others, to create more harmony, and freedom.” Another person shared how it changed their point of view, “Taking messages from a play that you might be involved in and bringing them into your perspective of Australian culture in general.”
ATYP Impact Evaluation Participants indicated that their time at ATYP has had a positive impact on their life achievements and experiences, which in turn has had a direct benefit on society as a whole. There were many ways they felt these impacts had been achieved. They have: • Had successful artistic careers as actors, directors, writers, producers, stage managers, film makers and photographers • Had successful careers in other industries • Seen a boost in their educational performance • Become more empathetic members of society • Built stronger relationships with their friends and families. Many of the skills learned don’t just stop with the participants, but also indirectly benefit the greater community. For instance, one parent explained that after attending ATYP, her child had the confidence to speak up about reconciliation at school. Another person said, “I am still so grateful to this day, and I strongly believe that Youth Theatre can give a voice and strength to children that they didn’t have before. ATYP gave me a voice and my whole life changed because of it.”
Drivers of impact In both the qualitative and quantitative data, the research uncovered a number of underlying drivers of impact. There are a number of key ATYP attributes that are critically linked with impact: • Safe space – creating an environment where young people can experiment • Vibrant atmosphere – its buzzing venue and proximity to other arts organisations • Student-led approach – empowering young people with creative control • Calibre of tutors – recruiting theatre professionals to share their passion • Emphasis on enjoyment – ensuring that young people have fun while creating • Making work by, and for, young people – creating new work with an authentic voice • National reach – creating opportunities across Australia. Many of these attributes are common to other youth arts companies, which suggests that the impacts occurring across the arts sector and the country could be profound. Further research to measure longitudinal impacts may provide useful evidence for policy and funding decisions. The research also explored potential future directions of the Company, and many participants agreed that there is a case for continuing to increase the reach of ATYP, particularly to young people living in disadvantaged areas.
ATYP Impact Evaluation
Very positive impact Positive impact
ATYP participants reporting positive impacts on their confidence
Extremely positive impact Very positive impact Slightly positive impact
ATYP participants reporting positive impacts on their overall wellbeing
ATYP Impact Evaluation
This section introduces ATYP and the need for this project. The introduction to this report first looks at the history of ATYP and how it currently measures impact among its participants. It then outlines the current and concerning landscape for young Australians and their mental health before touching on other research that is establishing links between the arts and mental health and wellbeing. Finally, the needs of ATYP for this impact assessment are described.
History of ATYP ATYP is Australia’s national youth theatre company and also Australia’s oldest (established 1963). The Company’s vision is to forever raise the expectations of what theatre with young people can achieve. ATYP exists to help young people find their voice and together, inspire all Australians. The Company believes that an involvement in theatre builds better people. Theatre develops confidence, creativity and community. It challenges us to reflect on and better understand ourselves and our society. Young people are a vital part of that society. ATYP has four main goals: • Be indisputably recognised nationally and internationally as a leading theatre company that fearlessly champions young artists • Inspire a life-long love of theatre by connecting young people with the professional theatre industry • Pioneer and be responsive to the use of technology to enrich the experience of, and expand access to, ATYP • Lead, strengthen and celebrate the Australian Youth Arts community.
Mental health of young Australians Given the latest research into Australian young people’s mental wellbeing, ATYP feel the time is right to evaluate the impacts of youth theatre on mental health. Mission Australia's 2016 Youth Survey found that concerns about mental health across Australia have doubled since 2011. About 22,000 people aged 15 to 19 took part in the survey and more than 20% cited mental health as one of the nation’s top issues. Concerns about mental health were at their highest level in the survey's 15-year history. The Survey also found that almost one in four (22.8%) teens aged 15-19 are in psychological distress and meet the criteria for a probable serious mental illness (PSMI), which means some 750,000 young people are affected. Females are twice as likely to meet the criteria than males, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have a higher likelihood than the general population. Good mental health and wellbeing is incredibly important for young people. In an open letter to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, psychologist and parenting expert Michael Carr-Gregg explained that 75% of all psychological problems in adults start under the age of 25.
ATYP Impact Evaluation
The arts and mental health Internationally, research is beginning to explore links between engaging in the arts and improved mental health: • The Art of Being Mentally Healthy: This was the first study within Australia to measure the relationship between the arts and mental health, and it provides evidence that those who engage in the arts for just two hours per week have a greater wellbeing than those who don’t. This was conducted in Western Australia. • Everyday creative activity as a path to flourishing: Researchers at the University of Otago have identified a link between everyday creative activity and an “upward spiral” of increased wellbeing and creativity in young adults. However, research has also shown that professional arts careers can have a negative impact on mental health and wellbeing. In 2015, the Equity Foundation published the first phase of findings from the Actors Wellbeing Study. It showed that a significant number of performers experience high levels of stress arising from their low income – a challenge common to many practising professional artists from all art forms. The survey also found high levels of performance-related anxiety and stress among the acting community, and that performers are twice as likely to experience depression as the general population. The study recommended that greater emphasis be placed on teaching acting students coping mechanisms, such as “cooling-down” techniques. It also recommended that there be a focus on financial training, psychology and healthy-lifestyle choices.
Impact assessment needs In February 2017, ATYP commissioned arts research agency Patternmakers to conduct an impact evaluation of the Company and to explore the connections between youth theatre and mental health. The primary purpose in conducting this impact evaluation was to assess the influence ATYP has on young people and how this evolves over time. This included exploring the benefits of ATYP’s activities for young people and identifying opportunities to strengthen ATYP’s future work through development, programming and education. As a secondary purpose, ATYP expressed that they wish to be a leader in contributing new knowledge to the field about the impact of youth theatre and the arts on mental health.
This report This report contains the analysis of all qualitative and quantitative data collected during the impact assessment, with key themes, patterns and stories identified throughout. Please note that in this report we will use the term “parents” to cover parents and carers of participants. The term “young people” will be used to cover children and young people of all ages. Maintaining privacy and confidentiality of impact evaluation participants is of utmost priority. Throughout the impact evaluation, Patternmakers has endeavoured to provide a safe environment to foster honest reflection by participants. All participants were given the option of anonymity: where individuals are mentioned, it is only with the express written permission of these individuals. 10
ATYP Impact Evaluation
ATYP has taught me the amazing power of both putting all of myself entirely on the line, and being able to move through that with resilience. Theatre teaches you how to open up, share your feelings but stay strong through that. ATYP participant
ATYP Impact Evaluation
This section outlines the key areas of enquiry and the methodology for the impact evaluation.
Areas of enquiry Building on the research questions outlined in an initial briefing meeting, the impact assessment explores the following areas: Table 1: Areas of enquiry ATYP’s reach and activities
Characteristics of ATYP’s participants and stakeholders. The different relationships ATYP has with young people, e.g. as audience members, performers, etc.
Impact on individuals
How this interaction impacts young people, both positively and negatively, immediately and over time. Drivers of impact and conditions for success. Who benefits the most (and least) from participating. Participants’ trajectories and pivotal moments, experiences, relationships and opportunities.
• • • Impact on mental health and wellbeing
How youth theatre creates transferable skills, e.g. does it enhance confidence and resilience? What, if any, is the flow-on impact to other parts of the community?
Impact evaluation methodology The impact evaluation was conducted in four main steps – commencing on appointment in February 2017 and concluding in November 2017. Figure 1: The four stages of the impact evaluation
After developing the key areas of enquiry to guide the project, the methodology for data collection was agreed. A mixed-method approach was adopted – with a combination of qualitative and quantitative techniques employed – to reach multiple stakeholders, to dive into complex areas and to measure key attributes, attitudes and behaviours: • A series of 8 in-depth interviews: these face-to-face interviews were conducted with selected ATYP participants and their families, tutors, alumni, and industry representatives. • An online focus group: a secure, anonymous online forum was conducted with ATYP’s current students aged 17-24. Nine of the 22 young people invited to join the online forum actively participated (41%).
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Online survey: Three of ATYP’s databases (general subscribers, auditions list and schools), totally 14,754 people, were invited to participate in the survey. In the end 1,247 people (8.5%) completed the survey. Given the subject matter of the survey, this response rate is considered high. The Djurali program was selected as a case study for this evaluation, with additional fieldwork conducted solely to explore its particular impacts: • Email interviews: these were conducted with tutors and school teachers who had participated in the Djurali program. Four of seven people responded to these emails.
Evaluation participant profile Survey respondents were asked about their primary relationship to ATYP. Figure 2: Primary relationship with ATYP A past or present participant in an…
An audience member
A parent or carer of an ATYP participant
An ATYP staff member, collaborator or…
A teacher at a school that works with…
An ATYP donor
An ATYP partner organisation or charity
The highest proportion of respondents (42%) said that they had participated in an ATYP workshop or production. These respondents were subsequently asked a range of questions about their experience in participating. One quarter (25%) of respondents identified as audience members, while 17% said they were parents or carers of ATYP participants. Parents or carer of ATYP participants were asked a range of questions about their young person’s experience in participating. The results of those who said that they had participated in an ATYP workshop or production and parents and carers of participants are presented in this report as a combined ‘participant’ view unless otherwise stated. Of the 9% who answered “Other”, many noted that they have been unsuccessful in auditioning for ATYP’s productions or that they, or their young person, are interested in participating in future ATYP activities. One respondent was a teacher looking to virtually participate with their class and another was a past board member. Interestingly, while 42 people responded from ATYP’s schools database, just 23 people identified as a teacher at a school. Others chose, instead, to identify as “An audience member” or “Other”. While the design of the survey necessitated that participants indicate their primary relationship with ATYP (see Figure 2), it should be noted that many participants have multiple relationships with the Company. Qualitative research found many examples of participants who later became tutors, members of staff, parents of participants and/or donors. Refer to Appendix A for full Evaluation participant profile. 13
ATYP Impact Evaluation
Skills and experiences at ATYP
This section of the report explores what happens during a participant’s time at ATYP and the immediate outcomes that arise. Responses were collected from past and present participants and parents and carers of participants.
Theatre skills learned at ATYP ATYP’s workshops and activities provide a space for young people to work with industry professionals. ATYP staff and tutors guide and support participants, and share their experiences and skills with them. They help participants explore a variety of theatre styles, to build movement and voice skills, and importantly, allow participants to devise a new work. For some participants, this means collaboratively writing or directing an original show, which they present to an audience in ATYP’s professional theatre space. An immediate outcome of participating in ATYP’s activities is that participants learn new theatre skills. Participants and parents were asked to what extent they or their young person developed a range of specified skills through their experience with ATYP. The most common skill people believed they developed was Acting, with 87% of respondents saying that their experience with ATYP impacted their acting skills Slightly, Moderately, Very Much or Extremely. Skills in Performing for an audience (85%), Storytelling (80%), Improvising (78%) and Technical skills (71%) were developed by many participants, while less respondents felt they had developed Writing (54%) and Directing skills (49%). Figure 3: Skills (n=min.586) Acting Performing for an audience Storytelling Improvising Technical skills Writing Directing 0%
N/A / don't know
Not at all
Experiences had at ATYP Participants and parents were asked to share what the immediate outcomes were from their experience at ATYP. There were some common themes: • Having fun • Forging friendships • Feeling inspired and networks • Recognising their value • Feeling part of a community • Accessing opportunity. • Developing a love of the arts
ATYP Impact Evaluation
Performance training has helped me greatly in developing both my social skills and school work. It paved the way for clarity of thought in public speaking as well as confidence to share ideas in classroom environments. ATYP participant
ATYP Impact Evaluation Figure 4: 2016 Winter Holiday Workshop Performance © Naomi Hamilton
Having fun Having fun was a key part of the experience for participants. One person said that while performances can be “serious and hard work”, they’re predominantly “about enjoyment and fun.” Another shared that the environment at ATYP forged this sense of fun: “There is a space for young people to explore theatre as a fun, exciting thing – it doesn't have to be this abstract unreal world.”
Feeling inspired Many participants were inspired by the tutors and their time at ATYP to continue pursuing their career in the arts. One said it gave them “Resilience to keep working at my craft, motivation and inspiration. Inspiration to tell my story and supporting other artists my age.” Some felt they could champion change: “If I want to see theatre change, and the face of Australian theatre change, it is up to me to change it.” Others were inspired to seize the day: “I genuinely believe that I've taken away a greater joy for life.”
Recognising their value During their time at ATYP, many participants felt they were supported to develop their self-worth: My experiences and my voice being taken seriously, even though I was/am young gave me the confidence and assuredness to pursue what I believed in and ignore people who didn't think my opinion was worth listening to because of my age.
ATYP Impact Evaluation People felt they were encouraged to always be themselves; to be happy and comfortable with who they are. Others felt encouraged to follow their passions and dreams and that at ATYP they were made to feel “completely ok” – even encouraged – to want to be a performer.
Forging friendships and networks Most participants mentioned that until starting at ATYP they hadn’t found friends “like them”. At ATYP they found people who shared their interests and people they enjoyed spending time with. One person described the friends they had made as being like a “second family”, while a tutor stressed the sense of togetherness ATYP brings: It’s quite a big thing to walk into a room of strangers. You’re investigating things about yourself and the world you live in. At the end of the week it’s exceptionally rewarding to see the ensemble spirit and sense of togetherness… lifelong friendships have formed. For many, these relationships have been long-lasting and beneficial in their creative careers: The relationships I developed with other creatives at ATYP seven years ago are still the most key creative/working relationships and in some cases personal relationships in my life today.
Feeling part of a community While developing theatre skills are important to many participants, what makes their time at ATYP unique is that they develop these skills in a “supportive, loving environment” and community. One person described it as “a place of acceptance and sharing.” One parent felt ATYP had given her daughter a sense of belonging: My daughter says she felt better because of the sense of community that she doesn't have in much of her life. It helped her to feel a connectedness with other children and to be part of a group with a specific focus. One tutor said they thought students learnt to be brave, to make new friends, to get out of their comfort zone and that they left ATYP feeling like a “more fulfilled person.”
Developing a love of the arts During their time at ATYP, many participants developed a love of the arts, “A love of storytelling and of the theatre world.”
Having access to opportunity Without the financial support provided by ATYP’s partner organisations, some would not have had the opportunity to participate in ATYP’s activities: We are very grateful to ATYP and The Girls & Boys Brigade for the opportunities they provided my daughters. As a single parent, financially it would have been impossible for my daughters to take part without the program. Refer to Appendix B for drivers behind participation and reasons for leaving ATYP. 17
ATYP Impact Evaluation
This section explores the different areas of ATYP’s impact. It first discusses the transferable life skills learned at ATYP, followed by the different connections developed. It then outlines overall impact on wellbeing, and how ATYP experiences shape young people into empathetic, creative, resilient adults. The section concludes with a case study on the ATYP Djurali program.
Impact on transferable life skills ATYP’s participants and parents were asked if the Company had had a positive or negative impact on life skills such as confidence, team work and self-awareness. Figure 5: Has ATYP had a positive or negative impact on... (n=571) Self-confidence Team work Inspiration and motivation Interpersonal skills Self awareness Telling their story Resilience in coping with challenges Anxiety levels 0%
Don't know / N/A
Overall, participants felt that they would not be the people they are today without ATYP’s influence. As one person identified, “Without ATYP I wouldn’t have my current outlook; I wouldn’t be the person I am today.” Another respondent claimed that ATYP had shaped their life for the better: It had never occurred to me before but through doing this survey I'm realising just how important ATYP was to me. I may not be where I am today without it. Parents also agreed with this sentiment: “Having a young person in our house who loves acting I am relieved that a place like ATYP exists.” Most people believed that ATYP had had a Positive or Very positive impact on the areas of their wellbeing identified in the survey. Self-confidence received the highest positive impact (89%). One participant said, “My confidence levels increased allowing my social skills and connection with my inner-self to improve as a result.” 18
ATYP Impact Evaluation
Confidence is the starting point for a lot of things. It builds resilience: the ability to get back up after something hasnâ€™t gone right at home. Evaluation participant
ATYP Impact Evaluation Participants felt that ATYP genuinely supported them in facing challenges, which is what then allowed them to build their self-confidence: It gave me self-confidence and self-esteem. Helped me deal with anxiety problems and not to be ashamed of it. But I didn't feel like I was being patronised, it felt very respectful and true. Many felt the Company had given them confidence to stand up when something wasn’t right: I've found myself becoming more observant and being able to read people through their facial expressions and body language. My confidence has also become significant as I feel I have more ability when it comes to expressing myself and standing for those around me. One participant observed that peer support also had a part to play: “Being believed in and surrounded by like-minded people has helped with my self-confidence.” This evaluation uncovered that confidence was a jumping off point to building resilience and was critical to further development. One stakeholder shared this story: Confidence is the starting point for a lot of things. It builds resilience – the ability to get back up after something hasn’t gone right at home. Confidence goes into social skills – feel good about making friends and keeping friends. It helps in education too – ask for help if you need help, or put your hand up in class, don’t just sit there and not know. It’s the key for a lot of different things – confidence to try new things: you’ve done it once, what’s to say you can’t do it again somewhere else. The second-highest positive response was ATYP’s impact on their ability to work in a team environment (Teamwork; 88%). Learning how to be part of an ensemble and to work as a team was an important skill many participants felt they had learned at ATYP. Many felt that this skill had helped them: I learnt a huge amount about team work and social cooperation from the many productions I worked on at ATYP and every day I use these social skills across all areas of my life. Participants also felt that ATYP had increased their social awareness. “I have made many supportive friendships,” noted one respondent, “and have learnt teamwork and interpersonal skills that have shaped me into a more socially aware person.” Of the past and present participants surveyed, 83% felt that ATYP had had a positive impact on their Inspiration and motivation, while 80% felt the Company had impacted their Interpersonal skills. One past participant explained that ATYP has had a positive impact on how they interact in social situations: ATYP helped me to climb out of my shell and embrace the world around me. I used to be extremely introverted and my social anxiety prevented me from achieving anything worthwhile. Even outgoing participants felt their confidence had been improved through their time with ATYP. As one person noted, “I am a very outgoing person, but I do fear just going up to people and trying to make new friends but ATYP made me more comfortable with new people I didn't know.”
ATYP Impact Evaluation Of the respondents, 78% saw a positive impact on their Self-awareness, while 73% saw a positive impact on their ability to Tell their story. As one person commented, “Every experience I have had with ATYP has built my overall social skills, which directly impacts wellbeing in a positive way, in being able to communicate effectively with other people.” “ATYP doesn't just teach acting,” asserted another participant. “The wonderful people there teach us how to act and interact with each other. And I think that's what makes the ATYP experience special.” Figure 6: Spring Awakening 2016 © Tracy Schramm
When it came to Resilience in coping with challenges, 71% believed that ATYP had had a positive impact. Slightly more than half of all respondents (52%) indicated that ATYP had had a Positive or Very positive impact on their Anxiety levels. One person noted, “As a young boy who suffered from bullying and severe anxiety, ATYP helped bring me out of my shell and nurture my passion for performing.”
Impact on connections This evaluation also explored ATYP’s impact on the connections participants make. Respondents were asked to share if they believed their participation in ATYP’s activities helped them develop stronger connections to their culture and other specific groups, as outlined in Figure 7.
ATYP Impact Evaluation Figure 7: Have ATYP’s activities helped you develop stronger connections to... (n=582) People in other schools that are like you Storytellers in your community Your culture Elders in your community 0% Not applicable
Three fifths (59%) of respondents said ATYP had helped them or their young person connect to students from other schools who they felt were similar to themselves or their young person. Some 39% felt that ATYP’s activities had helped them develop stronger connections to storytellers in their community. One participant said, “Theatre is important in communicating personal stories, relating to our culture, ourselves and the community. Theatre has the capacity to teach and heal.” Of all respondents, 9% felt that ATYP had helped strengthen their connection to elders in their community, while 52% felt this question didn’t apply to them. These figures are not surprising given that only a small proportion of participants identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.
Impact on overall mental health and wellbeing This section of the report looks at the impact survey respondents believe youth theatre is having on the overall wellbeing of young people and the impact that participating in ATYP’s activities has had on participants’ mental health and wellbeing.
Youth theatre’s overall impact on wellbeing All survey respondents (i.e. participants, parents, audience members and other stakeholders) were asked to what extent they agreed or disagreed to the statement, “Youth theatre contributes to the wellbeing of young people”. The overwhelming majority (94%) agreed with this statement: 66% Strongly agreed while 28% Agreed. 2% indicated that they were Neutral, while just 1% Strongly disagreed. 3% answered Don’t know. Figure 8: To what extent do you agree or disagree that “Youth theatre contributes to the wellbeing of young people.” (n=min.943)
ATYP Impact Evaluation
As a young boy who suffered from bullying and severe anxiety, ATYP helped bring me out of my shell and nurture my passion for performing. Past participant
ATYP Impact Evaluation
ATYP’s overall impact on wellbeing Participants and parents were asked to indicate the level of impact ATYP has had on their wellbeing or the wellbeing of their young person. Nine in 10 (91%) answered positively: 20% answered Extremely positive; 51% selected Very positive; and 20% chose Slightly positive. Of the respondents, 8% indicated that ATYP’s impact was Neutral and only 1% answered Slightly negative. Figure 9: Overall impact on wellbeing (n=584)
20% Extremely negative Neutral
Very negative Slightly positive
Slightly negative Very positive
Negative impact on mental health and wellbeing There were some respondents who felt that participating in ATYP’s activities hadn’t positively impacted their wellbeing. A few people experienced anxiety during ATYP’s activities: “Anxiety was a factor which often accompanied my experiences there, hence not being 100% for the wellbeing. Despite that, being uncomfortable often means things are changing up and progressing which is good in my books.” Some felt their time at ATYP highlighted disparities between themselves and others, particularly where some participants are from very disadvantaged backgrounds. One tutor noted, “Comparing oneself to others can be hard. In the workshops the kids are all doing the same things – but slowly they realise they are from different worlds.” One person found that the environment wasn’t always friendly: “I made some great friends at the time but also people who were less than friendly towards me, but such is life.” For others, the positive experience they had at ATYP only served to make other classes or events feel “mundane” or “disappointing”. “I guess it made me expect a lot more from acting groups and workshops,” said one participant, “and so I was let down a lot.” Another participant agreed with this sentiment: “I was so happy during the production and rehearsals leading up to the production which made it hard to then settle back into my mundane school life.”
Impact other areas of life and life after ATYP This section of the report explores what people take away from their experience with ATYP. Impact evaluation participants were asked to share a time where they, or their young person, have used skills learned at ATYP or seen the impact of their experience with ATYP translating into another part of their life. There were a few common themes that have been highlighted. 24
ATYP Impact Evaluation
Empathetic members of society Fundamentally, being involved in ATYP’s activities helped participants and audience members alike develop empathy. One participant felt ATYP had positively shaped her as a member of society: ATYP helped me to develop a greater understanding of myself and the world around me, at a time when I was young and ignorant. The experiences I have had there have without a doubt helped to shape the person I am today and the way I view myself and those around me, for the better. Others reinforced the idea that ATYP contributes to ‘humanity’, for example one participant said: ATYP productions are strong, and seeing young people, people my age, perform beautifully, lyrically and with a beautiful honesty makes me believe in the power of performance. Theatre makes us more human. Participants left ATYP valuing and celebrating differences. “Everybody has a story to tell,” wrote one person, “and our community as a whole is only richer for hearing them all.” One carer shared that instilling these skills in ATYP’s participants gave them “a superpower, the power to express themselves in creative ways, and to empathise with others, to create more harmony, and freedom.” How does this empathy develop? One participant believed it was largely through “Taking messages from a play that you might be involved in, and bringing them into your perspective of Australian culture in general.”
Careers in the arts ATYP helped many people realise their passion for the arts and gave them the encouragement and confidence to pursue these dreams: I participated in an ATYP course at a particularly vulnerable point in my life. Theatre kids can sometimes not be the most popular – I know, ‘shock horror’ – but the course gave me a new confidence in following my dreams despite what others thought. I now produce theatre myself. Those who work in the arts have found that the skills they learned at ATYP have been useful – particularly for auditions: I have used ATYP skills in school performances, delivering speeches in class and in auditions for productions which have all gone successfully when I incorporate the skills which I learnt at ATYP! Many are grateful they were given the opportunity to be part of the Company and for the opportunities that have followed: It has strengthened my connections with the arts community – which is something that I'm very happy to be working in. It has built my skills as a storyteller which has helped me in my uni degree and given me lifelong friends. I have faith in my work because my mentors at ATYP told me my work was worth having faith in. I feel that ATYP has been fundamental in shaping who I am as a person and as an artist, I wish I had discovered ATYP when I was a teenager but still I feel lucky to have grown with them in my first years as an adult. 25
ATYP Impact Evaluation
I have faith in my work because my mentors at ATYP told me my work was worth having faith in. I feel that ATYP has been fundamental in shaping who I am as a person and as an artist.
ATYP Impact Evaluation
Life and careers outside the arts Equally important is the impact the ATYP had on participants’ careers outside the arts. One evaluation participant shared what they took away from ATYP: There are lots of kids here that don’t go into the arts as a vocation – and that’s of equal if not more value. What’s important is getting access to high quality art – having art in your life without being in the arts. Having confidence to speak up about your rent or something that’s going on at work. Giving you a sense of empowerment because you’ve practiced it in a theatrical format. Many have found that the skills learned at ATYP have positively translated into other areas of their life: ATYP has taught me the amazing power of both putting all of myself ENTIRELY on the line, and being able to move through that with RESILIENCE. Theatre teaches you how to open up, share your feelings but stay strong through that. More than a few people expressed this sentiment: More confidence to speak my mind honestly in all facets of life. At the time when I moved out of the youth refuge system under government care as I was a runaway child. ATYP gave me a chance to develop my confidence and gave me lasting friendship and mentorship. A person who participated in ATYP’s activities in the ’70s said they had found their theatre skills to be “invaluable in public speaking” and other areas of work. Many cited job interviews as an area where they had frequently used their skills from ATYP. “Audition and performance skills are transferable to any career,” said one. “Especially job interview preparedness.” Another person elaborated further on this idea: “ATYP teaches you to be good on the spot and work in the moment and be confident. This can be used in all aspects of life but I noticed particularly in job interviews a lot of drama skills were used.” Some felt that their ATYP experiences had enabled them to better improvise and ‘problem-solve’ in the workplace, while others saw direct monetary rewards: Taking part in various workshops at ATYP over the years has greatly influenced my interpersonal skills which have enhanced my results as a salesman. Sales, drama teaching, politics, law and tourism were some careers people had pursued in which they found they called upon the skills learned at ATYP. One former participant who now worked in tourism said, “for real, let me tell you that being an actor is 100% helpful. My craft in storytelling and technical skills I have learned (also through ATYP) has assisted me IMMENSELY!!!”
School and university Participants have applied the skills they learned at ATYP to their schooling and university education. One person mentioned that their monologue and acting training had come in handy during the HSC, while another said they pulled on their skills when they needed to do a presentation or speech as part of their university law degree. 27
ATYP Impact Evaluation ATYP’s positive impacts on confidence made participants more willing to share their ideas in the classroom: I believe my performance training has helped me greatly in developing both my social skills and school work. During my time at high school I believe it paved the way for clarity of thought in public speaking as well as confidence to share ideas in classroom environments. The ability to work in a team was another common positive. One student shared that they had gained confidence in approaching collaborative tasks, while one parent felt her son now approached group work positively: My son was confident enough to put himself forward for the school musical and was very emotionally mature about not getting a main part – seeing it as a 'group' activity in which all roles are important. I feel this attitude to team work within a creative process has come from ATYP. Teamwork also shed light on leadership for participants: I learnt the importance of what a leadership role in group work was, not someone who tells everyone else their idea and decides that's what the group does. A leader in group work is someone who brings everyone's ideas together, and make sure everyone is heard in the creative process.
At home Participants said that ATYP’s activities have helped them to “open up” in their personal life to cast members, family and friends. Parents have seen the impact ATYP’s activities have had on their young people, and have seen this at “family get togethers, whilst playing with friends, at home.” Parents also see improved self-expression and confidence levels. One parent shared that her son, “seems more willing and able to express his emotions, more fluid in his language and less constricted in his expression.” It also served as a new source of inspiration for parents who home-school their young people. One person called it a “Great social context for home educators.” They went on to describe the classes as “refreshing” and “So very unschooled”.
Impact on the ATYP community This section of the report considers how ATYP impacts its wider community, which includes audience members and other stakeholders as well as participants and parents. Most evaluation participants feel strongly that ATYP is a positive force for the community. As one person surmised, “I think ATYP makes a critical contribution to the community.” All survey respondents, not only participants, were given a set of statements and asked to consider to what extent their experiences with ATYP influenced their attitudes and behaviours. These statements and the results are shown in Figure 10. A majority of respondents responded positively to all of the statements, indicating they are impacted in all the stated ways at least sometimes. 28
ATYP Impact Evaluation Figure 10: How often does ATYP prompt you to... (n=min.929) Appreciate the value of creative expression Empathise with another person's perspective Think about issues affecting young people today Speak up about something important Feel connected to other people in your life Reflect on something challenging happening in your own life 0% Don't know / N/A
Respondents are most often prompted to “Appreciate the value of creative expression” with 92% answering that ATYP prompts them to do so Sometimes, Often or Always. In examining the other results, 85% are prompted by ATYP to empathise with another person’s perspective and 82% are prompted to think about issues affecting young people today. For 75% of respondents, ATYP makes them feel connected to other people in their life and 72% are prompted by ATYP to speak up about something important. The lowest level, though still a majority (71% of respondents), was for ATYP prompting respondents to reflect on something challenging happening in their own life.
Comparing participant impacts with other stakeholders Analysis of participant responses relative to other survey respondents shows only a few areas of difference. This means that ATYP is having a positive impact on not just participants but all stakeholders, including parents and audience members, in prompting them to empathise with others, speak up, feel connected and to reflect. The key areas of difference in ATYP’s impact on participants are that participants are far more likely to be prompted by ATYP to speak up about something important (64% vs. 51%) and to feel connected to other people in their life (59% vs. 51%). Participants in ATYP’s activities are also more likely to be prompted by ATYP to reflect on something challenging happening in their own lives (51% vs. 45%) and to empathise with another person’s perspective (72% vs. 66%). In all areas, audience members are far more likely to be prompted by ATYP than parents. The largest difference is that ATYP prompts audience members to speak up about something important far more than parents (80% vs. 61%). This suggests that there may be an opportunity to engage parents more: to encourage them to attend performances and to share in the positive impacts of ATYP’s activities. 29
ATYP Impact Evaluation
Program case study: Djurali Since 2009, ATYP has been developing and facilitating a drama program called Djurali, which means “to grow” in the language of the Gadigal people. This program has been presented as a partnership with the NSW Department of Education Sydney Region Aboriginal Programs Unit (now the DEC Aboriginal Learning and Engagement team). The program was designed to engage Aboriginal students transitioning from primary school to high school, identified as a difficult time for many young people. The objectives of the program were to: • Develop transferable drama skills such as empathy, confidence, communication, self-awareness, teamwork, cooperation and leadership • Create an opportunity to share and enhance a sense of cultural awareness and belonging • Devise a dramatic presentation for their families, school and ATYP community. Between 2013 and 2017, seven schools participated in this program. Initially, the Djurali program was delivered in the format of a week-long camp culminating in a performance at ATYP. It ran across two terms (term four and term one) so that it could support young people in transitioning from year six to year seven at a new school. From 2014, Djurali took the form of an artist in residence model and students participated in ATYP-tutor led workshops at their own school. Each term culminated in a performance at ATYP. This program concluded in 2017. This case study explores the impact of this program on those involved – with particular focus on the period from 2013 to 2017.
Successes and challenges for delivery One tutor sought to explain some of the challenges: The way that the West does storytelling is very different to the way story is spread in Indigenous culture. Bringing attention to yourself can be shameful – unless you’re an elder passing on something culturally significant, so to get young people doing theatre is quite challenging. One respondent felt the program’s camp format of the early years had offered something more than the in-school format: I found they were more open to drama practices when they were out on the land. I don’t think it works as well now, because it’s within the school environment. Another respondent saw the ATYP space as an important part of the experience as it further “engaged students, because they were in a real space where actors work.” Teachers saw the role of Djurali program organisers and tutors as invaluable: “They were absolutely amazing and really added to the experience and I got a sense that they really connected with our students.” In each cohort of tutors, there was at least one tutor who was of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent.
ATYP Impact Evaluation
Djurali had a significant impact on students' confidence. They gained belief in themselves and what they have to offer others. Teacher of Year 6 students
ATYP Impact Evaluation
Impact In some groups, teachers saw that the program had an impact immediately: From my perspective Djurali had a significant impact on students' confidence. It gave them a safe and supported experience with a group of trusted peers where they could attempt drama forms that they have been too shy in the past to give a go. From this they gained belief in themselves and what they have to offer others. Another respondent saw the program as, “An amazing chance to develop confidence, self-knowledge, literacy, collaboration & presentation skills and the myriad of other opportunities that drama presents.” One teacher saw student attendance and their parents’ attendance at their final performance as a strong indicator of engagement: Kids would run to the Djurali workshops because they were so excited and ask me on Monday mornings if drama was on. We also saw 100% attendance on the final rehearsal and performance day, which is a strong indicator of how engaging the Djurali project was. This was further strengthened by a strong parent attendance of the final performance. All four survey respondents who had participated in Djurali said that ATYP’s activities had had a Very positive or Extremely positive impact on their overall wellbeing. In terms of longer-term impacts, this evaluation found that participants in the program had gone on to have a broad range of life experiences. For some, Djurali appears to have played a positive role in their subsequent education experiences: One of my students, who people thought wouldn’t go through to year 7 or 8, has just graduated high school. I really think that has a lot to do with that initial transition period of Djurali. Having Year 12 just gives him a leg up in terms of applying for a job, going to TAFE, or in seeking further education at uni if he wants to. However, there were also examples of students who did not experience positive outcomes over the longer term, with one student sadly passing away. When asked what was most impactful at Djurali, respondents emphasised the importance of creative expression: “It’s about role play. They get to act out fears – about getting lost, about culture not being important... It’s a place to have conversations and play.”
ATYP Impact Evaluation
ATYP’s ingredients for impact
This section of the report examines the unique attributes of ATYP that, together, foster an environment for impact.
Key attributes enabling impact This evaluation explored the key attributes of ATYP that enable impact to occur. The following themes emerged from the qualitative and quantitative research: • Safe space • Emphasis on enjoyment • Vibrant atmosphere • Making work by, and for, young • Student-led approach people • Calibre of tutors • National reach.
Safe space All survey respondents were asked, “To what extent do you agree or disagree that ATYP creates a safe environment for young people to express themselves?” 91% of respondents were positive: 31% Agree; 60% Strongly agree. Figure 11: To what extent do you agree or disagree that ‘ATYP creates a safe environment for young people to express themselves.’ (n=min.943)
Don't know/Not applicable Disagree Agree
Strongly disagree Neutral Strongly agree
This data is certainly supported by the comments that participants shared about the sense of safety at ATYP. One person said, “Hands down ATYP is the arts organisation where I feel the safest – and the one where I feel they will listen to me without any agenda.” Another shared, “ATYP was one of the few places where I could go and be myself… during some difficult times in the last two years of high school.” One person summarised the experience very well: “ATYP fosters a wonderful and essential environment for young people to learn, play, imagine, take risks, be brave and connect with themselves and others.” It wasn’t only participants who felt this sentiment, but parents too: “It is a place where I have been able to drop off my child over the years knowing that he will be safe, cared for, stimulated and trained.” The idea of safe space refers to both physical and emotional safety. Some of the ways that ATYP creates safe space are by: • Giving young people ownership of the space – and allowing them the freedom to make it their own and use it as they see fit • Creating a welcoming atmosphere (discussed further below) • Responding to the needs of each group, and adapting programs to suit • Respecting the ideas and contribution of every participant (discussed further below). 33
ATYP Impact Evaluation
Vibrant atmosphere The current location of ATYP and proximity to other arts organisations makes for a unique setting. People described the space and location as “Beautiful” and young people were excited to rub shoulders with actors and dancers involved with Sydney Theatre Company and Sydney Dance Company, located nearby. They also said ATYP had “A welcoming atmosphere” and felt that ATYP had created a wonderful sense of community: A community that is genuinely open to and interested in young people, and providing a professional, well-resourced and non-patronising experiences/opportunities to young people interested in pursuing a career in theatre. The culture ATYP has created is seen as a real point of difference, with one person saying, “There’s always someone at the front desk saying hello. It has a very casual vibe and feels ‘unbureaucratic’.” People feel welcome to enter the venue – through wide open doors and friendly staff at the front desk. The teachers and other staff are seen to have an exceptional ability to be both professional and welcoming: “The ATYP staff are all so welcoming and make you feel like you belong there – that it is YOUR space to work in.” Senior staff (including the CEO and Artistic Director) are approachable and available to everyone, including the youngest participants.
Student-led approach ATYP is seen to provide students with “creative freedoms” not found elsewhere. People applaud this student-led approach and the support the teachers provide: ATYP has young people at its heart – it values the stories we have to share and is committed to bringing those stories to the stage, performed by young people and targeted towards young people. It doesn't feel like adults pushing their views on young people, but young people being celebrated and facilitated by adults. Parents value the empowering affect that ATYP has on young people. In a day where kids are often constrained and/or disciplined by adults, they find the environment of ATYP refreshing: ATYP is amazing. It is unique in its focus on empowering children to create and tell their own stories. It doesn't force kids into scripted modes. In a world where the trend seems to be focused on testing, scaling and judging capacity, ATYP brings back the idea that everyone has stories and ideas, and can tell stories in different ways. As a result, the kids shine. Tutors agreed with this sentiment: We don’t come in with scripts and tell the children how we’re going to do the show. It’s totally the opposite – it comes from the kids. There’s a real sense of creative empowerment. We take the kids seriously when they have a creative idea, regardless of our own aesthetic judgement. Even if I don’t artistically agree with it – what’s more important is that the child’s expression is realised fully. 34
ATYP Impact Evaluation Figure 12: Sugarland © photo from Performing Lines
The calibre of tutors All survey respondents were asked, “To what extent do you agree or disagree that ATYP staff and tutors are supportive and approachable?” Of the 76% of survey respondents who answered this question, 91% Agree or Strongly agree. Figure 13: To what extent do you agree or disagree that ‘ATYP staff and tutors are supportive and approachable?’ (n=944)
Don't know/Not applicable
The tutors at ATYP enable the student-led approach and they are appreciated by participants and parents alike. One parent said ATYP had “Fantastic teachers/tutors.” She believed the teaching to be, “a very high standard in comparison to other drama and musical workshops that my daughter has been involved in.” The professionalism of tutors is an important part of ATYP’s offer and people do notice this difference: “Having working actors come in is very important. You’re giving them a sense of the real world of performers. It’s quite professional in that sense.” It wasn’t just their professionalism that was noticed. People were equally drawn to staff members as they felt they were approachable and relatable. People also described the teachers as “genuine and real” and said this was one of ATP’s points of difference. 35
ATYP Impact Evaluation
ATYP is unique in its focus on empowering children to create and tell their own stories. As a result, the kids shine.
Parent of an ATYP participant
ATYP Impact Evaluation
Emphasis on enjoyment Many feel that the nurturing environment ATYP provides, in which children learn by having fun and being involved, sets ATYP apart from other theatre companies: I was involved in the early 90s! I also attended the Actors Centre in Surry Hills. In my experience ATYP was more fun and interactive with an emphasis on enjoyment as well as learning. I think this is better for younger participants. One person said, “I think ATYP creates a healthy learning environment and encourages creativity in a non-judgemental way.” Another respondent reflected a similar sentiment: A genuine respect for young artists: a willingness to treat them in a professional manner and take them seriously whilst also capturing the fun, free-spirited vibe that perhaps sets them apart from older artists!
Making work by, and for, young people ATYP’s clear focus on young people is as equally important for young Australians today as it is for the theatre of tomorrow. For some young audience members, ATYP is their first theatrical experience, and the Company is the only way that young people can continue to access theatre that’s important and meaningful to them: Coming from a rural area I had never seen theatre that centered itself on the issues of young Australians and our dynamic relationships with our peers. The modern-day vernacular reflected our generation and the play reflected the untold reality of my peers that I sat with - from a rural, low-socio economic, Indigenous background. ATYP is seen to nurture young voices and to be developing the future storytellers of Sydney: ATYP provides a voice for the young people of Australia like no other theatre. It's a place where the storytelling comes first – it's not a launch pad, or a way to ‘get famous quick’. It's full of likeminded individuals striving together to make something beautiful. It’s emphasis on devised theatre, where works are created by ensembles of young people, were also seen to be a factor. One past participant explained that learning lines of a script written by an adult, and attempting to bring to life a character invented by someone else, was anxiety inducing. Devised theatre, on the other hand, inherently built the confidence of the young people involved. ATYP is seen as a leader in its approach to reaching young people and engaging in open dialogue about issues affecting them: Authentic voice, age appropriate creative development, access to terrific, current theatre practitioners, opportunity to participate in productions, young person’s perspective at heart of organisation, not afraid to tackle and explore issues affecting today's young people, e.g. gender, respected by performing arts community.
ATYP Impact Evaluation The Company is seen to be making a unique contribution in the sector: ATYP's role as a youth theatre company is exceptionally important to the local industry. No other major, professional theatre companies champion youth programs or provide emerging artist support at the level ATYP does. Figure 14: Workshops ÂŠ Bonnie Leigh-Dodds
National reach ATYP provides young people across Australia with access to the theatre and this sets it apart from other companies. People particularly value its work in rural and regional areas: It goes to remote country towns and gives people (like me) an opportunity to see that acting isn't just for the city kids. It made my dream a reality and it got me out of my shell. I don't think there's anything like ATYP going to small country towns and getting that out of kids. ATYP also offers live streaming to communities and this further strengthens this rural connection and provides more opportunities for children living outside metro areas to participate.
ATYP Impact Evaluation
It goes to remote country towns and gives people like me an opportunity to see that acting isn't just for the city kids. It made my dream a reality and it got me out of my shell. ATYP participant
ATYP Impact Evaluation
07 Conclusion This research suggests that for young people, ATYP’s environment, staff and activities foster theatre skills and helps young people to build connections. It also helps them build transferable life skills including confidence, interpersonal skills and resilience. All these things are related to wellbeing. Nine out of 10 participants say ATYP has had a positive impact on their wellbeing, and seven in 10 say it has had a very positive impact. The key drivers behind ATYP’s impact are its safe space, its student led approach and its importance on and value of young people’s ideas. Its ability to impact anxiety levels, foster resilience, and connections to culture, are particularly important, shown through quantitative analysis to be closely linked with wellbeing. One parent commented on the impact of her son’s experiences with ATYP: I can't say just one thing. He has found a stimulating environment, that is comfortable and safe, where his tribe are, he has made friends from other schools that he still keeps in contact with, he has mentors and tutors from ATYP that he knows he can call on anytime, and has been taught a wide range of skills that will be with him forever (whether he chooses to go down the acting pathway, or another pathway in life). This means that there are more young people and adults who are well, who can tell their story and connect with others, and who are more empathetic members of society that speak up when something’s important. There are also more people who appreciate the value of the arts, and more talented artists and arts professionals pursuing creative careers. The indirect or “spill-over” benefits from these impacts to the broader community appear to be far reaching – with present and past participants using their skills and experiences to make positive changes in their personal, professional and public lives. The program logic suggested by the research is shown at Figure 15. Figure 15: ATYP Program Logic
If these impacts are occurring across the youth arts sector, this research suggests that significant wider cultural and social impacts could be derived from young people participating in youth arts programs. Valuing arts experiences and skills may not only help more young people with the challenges they face today, but prepare them to become the artists, parents and politicians of tomorrow who will foster a more compassionate, creative and fair society. 40
ATYP Impact Evaluation
Appendix A: Evaluation participant profile This section discusses the demographics of survey respondents and their relationship with ATYP.
Survey respondent demographics Almost three quarters (74%) identified as female and one quarter (25%) identified as male. A higher proportion of female to male respondents is likely attributed to two driving forces: ATYP sees a higher proportion of females engaging with ATYP on behalf of young people and their family; ATYP has more female students than males (70% of respondents who have participated in ATYP activities identified at female). Figure 16: Gender (n=1,247) Female
Prefer not to say
When asked about their age, the highest response rate came from people aged 18 to 24, followed by those aged 40 to 49. One third (35%) of respondents are under 25 and almost half (47%) are under 30. Figure 17: Age (n=1,247) Under 14 14 to 17 18 to 24 25 to 29 30 to 39 40 to 49 50 to 59 60 to 69 70+ Prefer not to say
3% 8% 24% 12% 12% 20% 13% 5% 1% 1%
Parents were asked the age of their young person. Of the parents surveyed, almost two thirds (62%) said their young person was under the age of 14, a further quarter (26%) said they were aged 14-17, and the final 11% said they were between 18 and 24 years old. As such, this evaluation reached ATYP participants across all ages, as responses from parents boosted the representation of young people â€“ particularly those under the age of 17.
ATYP Impact Evaluation Figure 18: Age of young person (answered by parent) (n=162) Under 14 14 to 17 18 to 24 25 to 29 Prefer not to say
62% 26% 11% 1% 1%
Combining the ages of all young people represented by survey respondents (including young people who have not participated in an ATYP production, such as unsuccessful auditionees) it can be seen that half (53%) are aged 18 to 24, while the other half are aged 14 to 17 (24%) and under 14 (23%). Figure 19: Age of all young people (answered by self or by parent) (n=609) Under 14
14 to 17
18 to 24
Combining the ages of all who said that they had participated in an ATYP workshop or production and the ages of participants represented by parents it can be seen that over one third (36%) are over 25, while the other two thirds are aged 18 to 24 (23%), 14 to 17 (18%) and under 14 (23%). Figure 20: Age of all past and present participants (answered by self or by parent) (n=667) Under 14
14 to 17
18 to 24
25 to 29
30 to 39
40 to 49
50 to 59 60 to 69
When asked, “Do you identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander?” 98% of survey respondents answered, No. 14 respondents (1%) answered, Yes, while 8 respondents (0.7%) preferred not to say. Figure 21: Do you identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander? (n=1,223) No Yes Prefer not to say
98% 1% 0.7%
When asked about their country of birth, 83.2% of respondents indicated that they were born in Australia. This was followed by 6.4% in the United Kingdom, 2% in New Zealand and 1.6% in the United States. 7.6% were born in “Other” countries.
ATYP Impact Evaluation By contrast, the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016 Census data records that only two thirds (67%) of the current Australian population were born in Australia. The Census found that nearly four in 10 Sydneysiders were born in another country – the highest proportion of any Australian capital city. Within Sydney, the secondhighest overseas-born population was Sydney's CBD (80%). Figure 22: Country of birth (n=1,224) Australia
When asked where they currently live, four in five (79%) respondents stated, “Sydney”, 10% said, “regional NSW”, 9% said, “interstate” and 2% responded, “overseas”. Figure 23: Current place of residence (n=1,214) Sydney
For those who live in Sydney, the question was asked, “What is the approximate driving distance between where you live and ATYP?” Three quarters of respondents live within 20 kilometres of ATYP, and over half (54%) live within 10 kilometres. Figure 24 is a map outlining a 10-kilometre radius from ATYP. Actual driving distances mean that a 10-kilometre drive stretches even less than the radius indicated on the map, e.g. if we were to calculate driving distance rather than a birds-eye view the northern radius would only stretch as far as Lane Cove rather than Macquarie Park. Figure 24: Sydney residents' driving distance to ATYP (n=958) Less than 1km
2 to 5kms
6 to 10kms
11 to 20kms
21 to 50kms More than 50kms I don't know
17% 4% 5%
ATYP Impact Evaluation Figure 25: 10km radius from ATYP
When asked to share their household income, respondents appeared to be fairly evenly spread across income brackets. According to the Australian Bureau of statistics, in 2013-2014 the average Australian household income was $107,276. This means that a minimum of 42% of survey respondents have a household income below the Australian average. 23% of respondents preferred not to say. Figure 26: Household income (n=1,215) $200K+ $150K to $199K $100K to $149K $60K to $99K $25K to $59K Less than $25K Prefer not to say
10% 10% 15% 17% 16% 9% 23%
When comparing the household income of current participants to parents a stark contrast emerges. Current participants are more likely to be earning less than parents of other participants. More than one quarter (26%) of parents have a household income of over $200,000 and two thirds (60%) have a household income over $100,000. In comparison, one quarter (26%) of current participants have a household income below $59,000. Current participants are likely not earning much on their own. Figure 27: Household income by participants and parents (n= 362) 8%
$150K to $199K $100K to $149K $60K to $99K
$25K to $59K Less than $25K
Prefer not to say Current participants
26% 14% 14%
20% 17% 18%
Parents and carers of participants
ATYP Impact Evaluation
Participation This section examines people’s current participation in ATYP’s activities, how long they’ve been involved and the type of activities they participate in. Participant data was collected from more than 450 young people who have participated in an ATYP workshop or production as well as almost 200 parents and carers of young people who have participated in an ATYP workshop or production.
Current participation Three fifths (61%) of those surveyed indicated that they or their young person are no longer involved in ATYP’s activities. Two fifths (39%) are still involved in ATYP’s activities. Figure 28: Are you currently involved in ATYP’s activities? (n=656) No
Time since getting involved Participants and parents were asked how long ago they or their young person first became involved in any ATYP activities The highest response (34%) was from those who became involved in ATYP’s activities two to four years ago. 31% have been involved for one year or less, while more than one third (35%) became involved over five years ago. Figure 29: How long ago did you/your young person first get involved in an ATYP activity? (n=657) Less than 3 months ago 3 to 6 months ago
6 months to 1 year ago
2 to 4 years ago
5 to 7 years ago 8 to 10 years ago More than 10 years ago
15% 6% 14%
Types of activities Participants and parents were asked to select which activities they or their young person had been involved in at ATYP. The highest rate of participation was in holiday workshops, with almost one third (29%) indicating that they had participated. This was followed by auditions and productions (17%) and weekly ensembles (11%). The lowest levels of participation were scholarships (1.4% or 18 respondents) and learning workshops at school (2% or 24 respondents).
ATYP Impact Evaluation Figure 30: Participation in ATYPâ€™s activities Holiday workshops
Learning Workshops at ATYP
Ensemble weekends Learning Workshops at your school Scholarships
5% 2% 1.4%
Drivers behind first participating in ATYP as well as reasons for no longer participating can be found in Appendix B.
ATYP performance attendance Over half the respondents (52%) had seen a performance in the last year, though almost one quarter (23%) had never seen a performance. Figure 31: When did you last see an ATYP performance? (n=1,163) Less than three months ago Three to six months ago Six months to 1 year ago 2 to 4 years ago 5 to 7 years ago 8 to 10 years ago Over 10 years ago Iâ€™ve never seen a performance at ATYP
18% 9% 25% 21% 3% 1% 1% 23%
When analysing this data by current and past participants, current participants are far more likely to have seen an ATYP performance within the past three to six months (50%) than past participants (17%). However, 21% of both current and past participants have never seen a performance at ATYP. These figures indicate that there is an opportunity to further engage current participants, as well as alumni, to support the Company by seeing shows more frequently. We understand that ATYP has made previous efforts to encourage workshop participants to buy tickets. We also acknowledge that ATYP plays different roles for different people, and that not everyone is interested in attending the performances. ATYP does not have to be all things to all people.
ATYP Impact Evaluation
Appendix B: Drivers of participation and reasons for leaving ATYP Drivers of participation Participants and parents were asked to share what led them or their young person to first get involved in ATYP’s activities. There • • • • •
were five common drivers: Young people leading their involvement Recommendations to get involved A lack of opportunities elsewhere Education and further study Opportunities through partner organisations.
Young people leading their involvement Some participants sought out ATYP themselves: I was at boarding school and wanted to do more drama – did the Saturday workshops and productions in the 1970s… I was feeling like my time was misused in a school holiday when I was younger and I decided to pursue an area of physicality that I was interested in. Leading me to ATYP. Young • • • • •
people heard about ATYP through different mediums: ATYP website Seeing productions with their school Audition notice – posters, emails Callouts for National Studio Work experience.
Recommendations to get involved For some participants, ATYP was recommended to them by a school friend, older sibling, cousin or family friend. Some home-schooling networks recommended ATYP, and one person noted, “The professional yet nurturing environment of ATYP was something I was really drawn to.” For others, their involvement was led by their parents: “I was very young and very shy and my mother pushed me into it to help me gain confidence and social skills.”
A lack of opportunities elsewhere Many respondents joined ATYP to find other young people they felt they could relate to. Many people noted that ATYP offers an environment unlike that of any other theatre company in Australia: Lack of drama opportunities or like-minded children at local school or experiences with other companies: For a few years I attended NIDA. I was not getting the learning experience I wanted. A family friend told us about ATYP and said the teachers at ATYP were really good. So we tried one of the courses over a school semester and continued to go ever since!
ATYP Impact Evaluation Some people felt that ATYP offered programs that were more suitable for boys than other companies: My two sons had been attending dance classes and doing some performances, so I thought participating in drama-based activities would add to their performing arts experience. Also, the ATYP programs were fun/interest based, had more boys participating (than dance classes usually did).
Education and further study People joined to further their education. One person hoped to “Develop superior skills” in preparation for the HSC. Another respondent wanted to, “Try out different aspects of craft as a teenager. I eventually studied music performance at tertiary level and found both ATYP & AFTRS open program useful adjuncts to my undergraduate course.”
Opportunities through partner organisations For some, their involvement was only made possible by ATYP partner organisations, such as The Girls & Boys Brigade after-school program in Surry Hills.
Reasons for leaving Respondents who were no longer involved in ATYP’s why they stopped participating. These included: • Age cut off • • Career progression • • Other commitments •
activities were asked to share Cost and distance of travel Costs of participating Not the right fit.
Age cut off With an age cut off at 26, many simply cannot participate anymore. Though, even for those under the age of 26, some felt that the productions were targeted at lower ages. One 25 year old said they didn’t “usually fit the age group ATYP are after.”
Career progression For many, ATYP has helped them progress into the next phase of their career. One respondent said, “I'm in New York now. I just graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.” Another reported that they’re now “working full time in TV”.
Other commitments Participants and parents were asked if they or their young person participated in other activities outside of ATYP, school and/or university. Of those respondents who could still be participating, the largest reason identified for leaving was “other commitments”. In fact, two fifths (39%) now participate in other theatre programs while almost one third (30%) participate in other creative arts programs, such as dance. 17% participate in sports activities and 2% in religious or community organisations.
ATYP Impact Evaluation Figure 32: Participation in Other activities (n=600) Other theatre programs Creative arts programs (dance, craft etc.) Sport Other Religious or community organisations
39% 30% 17% 12% 2%
For some, their “other commitments” were key high-school milestones: I am too busy with the HSC but I intend to audition next year. It's not that I don't want to be involved. It's just that I am so time-poor at the moment. While for other respondents, their “other commitments” meant that they had less time to partake in ATYP: AFL commitments twice a week plus he also joined Sydney Children's Choir in 2015-2016 and is now a chorister at St Andrew's Cathedral. We have looked at other holiday activities but they always clashed with other activities we were planning such as AFL training (plus 3pm pick up hard in holidays!). For parents and carers, it can be about prioritising areas of focus and development: I decided to enrol my daughter in more sport and team focused activities but will definitely re-enrol her once we have addressed some of her current development needs with these current activities because I love and support the arts and believe that they have an enormous impact on her confidence and personal development.
Cost and distance of travel Travel time and the logistics involved in travel for young people living outside Sydney are often a barrier to participation: I want to be involved and always check upcoming auditions. The problem is the travel since I live 1 hour away from ATYP and it would be difficult to attend rehearsals every week so far away. The cost is also prohibitive for some: “Tyranny of distance – travel and accommodation costs”.
Costs of participating The cost of participating was inhibitive for some participants and their families. Likewise, some people identified that the time they spent there prevented them from earning an income as an actor elsewhere.
Not the right fit It appears that theatre – and ATYP – is not right for everyone all of the time, and that is okay. Innate confidence, family/peer support and life circumstances all play a role in attracting some young people and not others. As one tutor said, “Some kids are painfully shy and are sent to do drama as a kind of therapy. It doesn’t work because they’re not interested in art.” Another tutor agreed with this sentiment, saying that it’s just not the right fit for some young people: 49
ATYP Impact Evaluation Some young people find it harder to be confident. A lot of it is to do with peers and support at home – if you’re heard at home, and what pressures you have. It’s not just enough to get it here in class – you need it outside from parents or community. When asked if they could predict which students would get the most from ATYP, one research participant answered that it wasn’t always clear: Some of it is unpredictable. There are kids that have really surprised us and loved it. Some kids get burnt out – they grow out of it or think they’ve done that and don’t need to do it again.
ATYP commissioned arts research specialists, Patternmakers, for the ATYP special report: Building mental agility through youth theatre, whic...
Published on Jan 19, 2018
ATYP commissioned arts research specialists, Patternmakers, for the ATYP special report: Building mental agility through youth theatre, whic...