Making Theatre Gaining Skills C.I.C. was established in 2013 to build on projects delivered by Hilary Strong across Hampshire and Sussex. The innovative training techniques use creativity to engage people at risk of exclusion from the labour market, so that they can gain confidence and progress into employment or further training.

Hilary Strong has 30 years of experience in the creative sector having run a touring theatre company, a mid-scale theatre and the world’s largest arts festival. During the period in charge of Greenwich Theatre, she became progressively interested in the provision of education and training, especially for young people from disadvantaged areas of South London.

Between 2000 and 2007, Hilary re-branded Greenwich Theatre as a theatre focused entirely on learning and participation and secured funding from the European Social Fund of nearly £1 million to support a range of training programmes. In 2007 the Greenwich Theatre programme was awarded the London Region Edge Award for Training.

Hilary developed the Making Theatre Gaining Skills training programme in 2011 with investment from Arts Council England, the Learning & Skills Improvement Service and UnLtd, the Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs. The aim was to provide a unique learning programme for young people offering practical experience of a range of technical, craft and production roles combined with employment skills. The first programme was run in Portsmouth in July 2011 and 12 young people aged 15-19 took part.

They worked together on the creation of a new theatre piece for children utilising a specially-designed mini theatre.The participants gained technical and craft skills in set construction, prop and costume making,lighting and sound design and stage management.

In 2013 a new Community Interest Company was formed so that the benefits of the training programme can be rolled out at a local regional and national level. A particular focus for the new CIC will be to pilot the integration of functional skills teaching with the delivery of the training programmes.