Thousands of young people with black, asian and ethnic minority backgrounds in Croydon will be able get involved with theatre thanks to a £1 million boost.

Today (Friday, March 22) it was announced by the Secretary of State for Culture, Jeremy Wright, that the borough will get £1m of Arts Council England funding.

Croydon will be one of five Youth Performance Partnerships in England .

With the money, more than 2,000 young people will be taught practical performance skills as well as script writing, directing and tech.

A three-year programme has been developed by Croydon Council through the Croydon Music & Arts hub.

It will specifically target black, asian and minority ethnic young people who are historically under-represented in theatre.

The workshops will be delivered in schools and community centres, initially focused in three neighbourhoods, New Addington, Thornton Heath and South Norwood.

As part of the programme, there will be the chance to perform in or work on three large-scale productions at Croydon’s stunning new arts centre, The Fairfield Halls.

Young ambassadors from Croydon have helped to shape the programme, including spoken word artist, Zhanai Wallace, 15, Keanu Reid, from the Croydon Rap Club, Jude Yawson from #Merkybooks, who co-wrote Stormzy’s recent autobiography Rise Up and Mason Sestanovich AKA ‘Rager’, 16.

Zhanai performed her poem The Garden of Croydon when Mr Wright visited The BRIT School this week.

She added: “I think it’s really important to get young people all around the borough involved in arts programmes.

“It gets them off the streets and it gives them an opportunity to express their emotions which I know has helped me. It boosts young people and it gives them a platform and a stage.”

The first year will see flash mods and pop up performances from The BRIT School, Dance Umbrella and Croydon Rap Club, as well as Croydon’s second annual spoken word festival Living in Poetry 2019.

Councillor Oliver Lewis, cabinet member for culture and leisure, said: “This fantastic programme builds on our drive to create opportunities for young people to get involved in the arts – particularly those who might not otherwise have the chance.”