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Leaders in Events, Sound, Lighting and Audio-Visual

Blog  > Thought Leadership  > The arts in education

11 April 2019

Celebrating youth theatre

Magnetic Storm has been supporting youth theatre in Port Elizabeth for over 12 years. David Limbert who spearheads work with local schools and community theatre talks about the importance of investing in tech skills for emerging talent and the role of the arts in education. 

Schools throughout Port Elizabeth have been creating professional standard productions for over a decade. Adding to the audience experience, Magnetic Storm has offered mentoring coupled with the hire of equipment for the technical crew to create a sound a lighting experience one would expect in established theatres.  

So much goes on behind the scenes to create a theatre production, much of which falls under the heading of technical services, and although technical in name the execution is more creative. "Lighting and sound create mood,” explains David Limbert, who is a theatre lighting professional and heads up Creative Services at Magnetic Storm. “It enhances any performance on stage, it gives the audience goosebumps and places them on the edge of their seat. Without technical creativity and skills,  ‘behind the scenes’, productions would be a less immersive experience.” 

By spending time with young people, professionals in the arts can spark an interest in the entertainment industry, and expose them up to experiences and potential careers they may have never considered. Plus, according to researchers studying the arts also improves student capabilities in other areas as well, including in the sciences, maths and reading. So it’s a vital element in the education system. 

At Magnetic Storm, we train and mentor the learners so that they run the shows themselves.  Mentoring is available for positions of great responsibility such as stage manager. “By empowering the students we are teaching them about responsibility, leadership and teamwork," adds Limbert.  

Magnetic Storm also exhibits at the Working World Exhibition in Port Elizabeth to showcase the  roles that exist in the events and entertainment industry, and to encourage work experience and further studies within the field. "Working in entertainment gives you an opportunity to travel the world," enthuses Limbert. "You meet the most amazing people, see some interesting sights and get to flex your creative muscles to wow audiences on a weekly, if not daily basis."  

The training also filters throughout the school system, as skills learnt are then taken and applied to smaller schools productions (house plays and assemblies, etc.) and shared with other learners through tech clubs. These young people whose passion is ignited then use their skills in local community theatre as they get more involved in productions. 

Arts deserves focus in schools

Sport is highly prevalent in South Africa. Everyone understands the value of sport, not least because, as children, we all took part on playing fields across the land. But there is an obvious disconnection between those who are lucky enough to experience the value of the arts and those who are not.  

If we are serious about finding the Wayde van Niekerk of the film world, and the Chad le Los of the theatre world, we must begin to fight the prejudice against the arts.  

Theatre arts and sport command the same disciplined team-building skills and provide the same adrenaline-making confidence boost. It doesn't matter how many qualifications you have; if you can't communicate in the workplace, you're on the back foot.  

Schools like Theodor Herzl who staged Cirque Spectacular, Grey Junior School and its Shrek Junior and Collegiate’s investment in improved stage lighting and AV are examples of schools working to prevent the steady decline of the arts. And it’s up to corporates and professionals working within the entertainment industry to support them. 

Another way to secure meaningful change is to put the arts on the same footing as sports, dedicate a certain number of hours a week for creative learning taught by drama teachers in every school, just as physical education is compulsory in early education.  

In my opinion, as artificial intelligence develops and grows in the workplace, the new currency will be emotional intelligence. Honing empathy and creative leadership skills will empower a new generation of cultural heroes such as those sport enjoys today. From the Chinese government to the Harvard Business Review, around the world researchers and commentators are observing how cultural offerings benefit young people, recognising the value of non-cognitive activities and replicating them in their formal institutions.  

We urge you to get involved in youth theatre, support where you can and champion young South Africans looking to enter the entertainment industry.

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