The Council is consulting us on projects to help regenerate the Barnet High Street area. Our web post on 1 February described how the Barnet Society has responded to the Community Plan by agreeing five priorities: something old, something new, something for children, something for young people and something green.
The prospects of secondary school and college students have been thrown into disarray by the pandemic and its economic consequences. Not only have their pathways to educational qualifications been disrupted, but their chances of secure and well-paid employment have been reduced. On top of that are the adverse consequences for their health and wellbeing. It is essential for the Plan to do something to repair the damage and give them hope for the future.
Here we invite you to consider the two potential projects in the Plan that would specifically offer something for young people – and would also benefit the wider community:
- The Bull Theatre
- Teenage Makers
Don’t miss the opportunity to let the Council know that you support at least one of these projects in the Community Plan here. The deadline for comments is Friday 19 February.
The Bull Theatre is the heart of the Susi Earnshaw Theatre School (SETS), which offers a specialist curriculum to pupils aged 9-16, focused on the performing arts. In normal times, SETS plays a prominent part at Barnet and London events.
The Community Plan project is not intended to alter SETS’ core educational role, though if successful, SETS would certainly benefit. It’s partly about taking school performances out to local schools and other audiences. It’s also about attracting the community into its building, particularly its auditorium, to engage in a range of educational and enjoyable activities at times of day, evening or weekend when it would otherwise be empty.
SETS has expertise in, and passion for, the creative and expressive aspects of the curriculum that research shows are invaluable to the development of children and young adults, but for which mainstream schools are often unable or unwilling to provide. Lockdown has made us aware of how important the arts are for all of us. Whether as participants or audiences, our mental health and wellbeing depends on them to some degree.
The Bull Theatre has been a valued but under-used resource in Chipping Barnet in the past. A project to broaden public access to it would be well worth your support.
The other project in the Community Plan for young people, Teenage Makers, would build on the success of the Teenage Market that ran for two years pre-Covid on The Spires bandstand site. That provided a platform for youngsters to market their own goods and to entertain visitors with musical gigs. Teenage Makers would take this model a step further.
Partnership with Barnet & Southgate College, and possibly local secondary schools, would enable a programme of teaching and learning through making and selling that could lead to formal qualifications, work experience, employment – and with luck, a new generation of entrepreneurs.
This would also fit well with the government’s recent recognition that vocational education has in the past been undervalued and underfunded, and deserves better support in future.
A Teenage Makers market on the College’s square would also bring life to that attractive but under-used space, and encourage staging of other public events there.
The Society would like to hear how you rate these ideas. If you’re a member, we’ve already written to you, so email us at the address in the letter, by Monday 15 February. If you aren’t a member, please contact us via the comment box below – and consider joining us!