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Y Theatre Leicester

Leicester's YMCA houses a beautiful Edwardian Theatre - the oldest in the city. This year the site and its history was shared in a brilliant new way as young people from the Kick the Dust project created an immersive experience for visitors to explore over Heritage Open Days. 

© Rochana Ryan - Heritage Open Days 2020 at Leicester's oldest theatre

Juliet Martin, Y Heritage Manager, Leicester YMCA

Some of the brilliant people who created Y Theatre's immersive HODs event / © Rochana Ryan

I am the Manager of Y Heritage, a three-year Heritage Lottery funded project based at the YMCA in Leicester.  Our aim is to engage young people in heritage and heritage organisations with young people. We offer a grant to local heritage projects who build in a meaningful placement to their project with a young person. Young people shortlist, interview and appoint the projects giving them control of a diverse programme of year round events.

What we did for HODs

Due to the pandemic our beautiful theatre was closed, like theatres across the country with all events and bookings cancelled or postponed due to the pandemic. However, we felt that with the rule of 6 in place we could create a small-scale immersive tour and event to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the YMCA and the impressive history of the theatre for Heritage Open Days.

The difference it made

The young people who created and delivered the event have been empowered, they worked on every aspect of our Heritage Open Day: Researching archives, collating materials and curating the exhibition, coordinating and designing the giveaway packs, recording the voiceovers for the immersive tour, meeting and greeting the public, ensuring COVID 19 measures were in place to keep everyone safe, running the WW1 tea hut, managing the social media and cleaning up after the event.

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All the carefully COVID distanced tours were fully booked / © Rochana Ryan

Best bit

Seeing young people stepping up and taking responsibility for THEIR event, in particular how they met and greeted the public, were mindful of health and safety and took full ownership of the event.

Juliet's Top Tip

Be mindful of the visitor experience at all times; if your event isn’t interesting, fun and educational for your visitors then change your approach. Also, do something different!

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