Feature on Asaria Performing Arts

How would you describe your youth organisation?

Asaria has been established for over seven years and are based in Tottenham, North London. The pupils are aged anywhere from 4- teenagers and are able to develop skills in Acting, Dance and Singing. Our 3 practitioners are professionals in their own fields and we also have 3 volunteers that help out every week. Asaria has over 40 boys and girls from a wide cultural background and pupils live in Haringey and Enfield. Pupils can take vocational examinations in Ballet and Acting, gain casting opportunities and perform at local community events and West End theatre productions.

How does your organisation help young people?

We help parents/carers to make friends and offer volunteer opportunities when possible.  Children/young people can make friends, gain confidence and develop a sound awareness and understanding of performing as an artist, developing new skills and using skills to gain work as a young actor/ess. Our low fees enable  those who would not usually be able to access such services to enjoy working with professionals. Our children/young people are fortunate to appear at West End productions, on TV, take examinations and have the full support from local schools, businesses and our local M.P.

How many young people do you help?

We have over 40 children/young people aged 4-teens who regularly attend the weekly Arts club.

How big is your organisation?

We are a small organisation and including myself as the volunteer manager/teacher of Dance/Acting/Singing, there are 2 hourly paid professional teachers, 1 volunteer teacher from a local school and 2 teenage volunteers who previously attended Asaria.

What types of young people do you work with?

Children/young people may be gifted and talented, facing difficulties at school/home (behavioural, emotional issues.  Many of our pupils really enjoy attending the weekly club and we try to work as closely with schools/parents/colleges as possible to encourage participation/retainment.

When was your organisation set up?

Asaria was originally set up September 2001 by myself (Amanda Neufville)

Why was it set up?

I set the organisation up because I felt the lack of opportunities for children/young people from BME’s were quite limited in my local area. I aimed to provide affordable professional tuition, develop examinations for young people and source accredited, reputable TV agents would take on pupils from Asaria.  Also to develop partnerships with schools, community centres, local organisations etc. I used to work in a number of highly accredited Performing Arts companies and always wanted to offer really good opportunities for kids that were not as well off. The organisation is based in an area that is not always portrayed positively due to crime/economically deprived area etc other issues.

What have been the highlights and the achievements of the organisation so far?

Six years of providing opportunities for over 2,500 youngsters to perform at some of London\s most prestigious West End theatres. Building good relations with schools, community centres/local organsiations.  Working with professional casting agents to provide  auditions for some of the young people.  Working with course providers and building relations with examiners to help children/young people to achieve very good grades in Dance and Acting examinations.

Performing at the official Queens Jubliee in Barnet four years ago, David Lammy M.P for Tottenham is using our pupils on his parliamentary web site as he attends our yearly certificate awards for young achievers and having a good relationship with parents/carers who support Asaria through weekly fee payments

What are the plans for the organisation this year?

Pupils will be able to look forward to Acting and Ballet examinations, a West End performance production at the Sadler’s Wells theatre, Sunday 23rd March and a summer fundraising activity to raise money for a Disneyland Paris production in July 2009.  We hope to recruit more volunteers and teenagers, especially boys.  To bring our web-site up to date and relaunch a new package

How can young people get in touch with your organisation?

We are hoping to have a web site in the next few months too. We also welcome visitors to attend and speak to practitioners, look around the venue etc.