Leading youth theatre PACE, best known for producing a string of illustrious alumni, is launching a brand new platform to offer quality creative experiences this summer for young people aged 3-21. The platform is open to young people across Scotland and can be accessed on a Donate What You Can basis, free to anyone that needs it until September 2020.

Joining the A Change of PACE platform means young people can sign up for all PACE’s online summer events and courses, chat and share in an online community platform specific to their age group, access exclusive digital content from artists across the country, and much more.

Children’s charities are warning of the long-term impact of Covid-19 for young people, with many already feeling the effects of social distancing, high levels of isolation, and the wider social and economic changes to their lives. With proven links between having a creative outlet and an improvement in wellbeing and development, A Change of PACE aims to offer a creative respite and a supportive online environment to as many young people as possible.

A Change of PACE offers two membership options; a Regular membership includes a weekly zoom drama workshops while the new Light memberships allow young people to access all of the online videos, audio adventures, podcast and digital theatre, as well as book summer events, without the weekly commitment.

The Paisley-based youth theatre has been successfully running online drama classes and building a creative community for its existing members since the lockdown prompted a re-imagining of its core activity in March, launched with an online Q&A and masterclass by former alumni and star of The Last Kingdom, Mark Rowley.

Explaining why he believes creative opportunities such as this are vital, Mark said: “PACE gave me so much confidence and self belief growing up. When I didn’t have vision and felt a bit lost as a teenager, they gave me a focus and a drive to pursue a dream that I thought was unattainable. More than ever, these activities can be a constant in the lives of young people and it’s great for me to be able to give something back.”

Positive feedback for this pilot has prompted an expansion of its offering and staff hope to be able to bring this fantastic resource to even more young people, with the removal of geographical and financial barriers. It is a cornerstone of PACE’s ethos that finances should never be a barrier to participation. Thanks to vital support from the Scottish Government’s Supporting Communities Fund / Linstone Housing, the Wellbeing Fund, Corra Foundation, Charities Aid Foundation and public donations, PACE is making A Change of PACE free to anyone who requests it, and on a Donate What You Can basis for those who are able to.

Jenni Mason, Artistic Director of PACE says: “This is an unfamiliar and challenging situation for everyone and I think it is particularly hard for young people. We believe that at a time like this, the arts have an absolutely key role to play, being creative can provide a fantastic outlet for young people and it can also provide a way for them to process and explore what is happening around us.”

PACE Theatre Company was founded in 1988 and is a non-profit making company and registered charity. It runs the largest youth theatre in the UK with over 1,000 young people attending each week, and produces the annual pantomime at Paisley Arts Centre. PACE focuses on developing and nurturing young creative talent through performing arts experiences.

PACE alumni have included singer Paolo Nutini, and actors James McAvoy (X-Men), Richard Madden (Bodyguard, Cinderella, Game of Thrones), Kevin Guthrie (Fantastic Beasts, Sunshine on Leith), Scott Reid (Still Game), James McArdle (Mary Queen of Scots), Amy Conachan (Hollyoaks), Mark Rowley (The Last Kingdom) and Leigh Quinn (RSC)

By Ricky Kelly

Main writer for Renfrewshire News