Culture Minister visits arts group Craigmillar

Culture Minister Neil Gray met young artists on Wednesday during a visit to performing arts organization Lyra in Craigmillar, Edinburgh.

Over the past 10 years Lyra has built a world-class professional arts community for children in one of Scotland’s most deprived areas.

By seeing performances, taking lessons in drama, music and dance, and being empowered to create her own work based on what interests her, Lyra is improving the quality of daily life for children affected by poverty, involving an average of 2,000 children per year.

Each week during school terms, local children receive free after-school and Saturday lessons in theatre, music and dance. Children audition and commission professional artists they work with over the course of a school year to create a new piece of music, drama or dance. The new orders are presented at the annual Bright & Wild festival in May for an audience of friends, families and locals.

Throughout the year, Lyra’s Culture Crew program brings professional companies to perform their shows in Artspace’s theater – giving young people the chance to learn marketing, box office and theater skills. Lyra also works outside of her building with other local community groups and performs professional shows at other cultural venues.

The Minister met and discussed with young beneficiaries of the organization, had the opportunity to see and participate in some workshops, and to visit Lyra’s theater and workshop.

The visit celebrated Lyra’s 10-year residency at Artspace in Craigmillar, located in the SPACE development, owned and managed by Places for People Scotland, which provides retail space to local organizations and charities.

Jo Timmins, Founder and Artistic Director of Lyra, said: “It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to meet Mr. Gray and introduce him to some of the many young people who come each week to enjoy the theatre, music and dance.

“Working at Craigmillar and Niddrie is a privilege, bringing the magic of the arts to children and young people who otherwise might not have the opportunity. Lyra builds confidence, raises aspirations, increases creative skills and helps overcome low self-esteem in children disadvantaged by inequality.

Culture Minister Neil Gray said: “It has been a pleasure to take part in Lyra’s birthday celebrations and to see first hand the impressive range of activities of the performing arts organisation.

“Our children and young people have experienced significant disruption in all aspects of their lives as a result of the pandemic and the activities of cultural organizations, like Lyra, are playing an important role in helping them recover and reconnect.

“The Scottish Government is keen to support children from diverse backgrounds by expanding opportunities for them to take part in cultural activities.”

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