Riff Productions' Jasmine Pearce On Providing Free Performing Arts Experience To All
Jasmine Pearce, just out of school, has plans for an all-inclusive theatre training school - completely free.
Tell me a little about yourself
I'm 18. I've finished college where I took English Language, Drama and Theatre Studies and Creative Media Production. I'm taking a year out to found a charity, and I'm currently working in a cinema.
How do you fit it all in?
I've always been very busy, cramming in as much as I can - I love it.
What are your intentions for next year?
I hope to go to uni with a view to becoming a primary school teacher and after that, teaching kids with disabilities. I'll have to stay local to continue with my charity work.
So you're going to run the charity - Riff Productions - alongside your other work?
I won't stop doing fundraisers and other stuff when I go to uni - I'll just fit it all in as best I can.
What is your vision for Riff?
The number one aim is to offer performing arts experiences to adults and children of all backgrounds, regardless of ability, financial status and age etc. We want to do that in so many different ways, so we can give everyone their chance, because we want to go right across the spectrum of performing arts - singers, dancers, actors - so everyone can showcase what they can do.
What's Riff's unique selling point?
Theatre schools are aimed at children. There aren't many places that combine adults and children together unless it's professional, so being able to work with all age groups will be different. It will also be completely free, which isn't usually the case with shows or schools. Not everyone can afford that, so making it more about skills and talents makes Riff different.
Where will you be based?
Brighton, but we'll be covering surrounding areas as well and trying out different theatres and rehearsal spaces to involve as many people as possible. We've spoken to a few places and people are willing to give us discounted prices - but nothing settled as yet. We want to move around to involve as many people as possible.
How will you deal with the bureaucracy involved in setting up Riff?
It's not easy! I was clueless about the charity aspect when we started. On the performing side, I can hold my own, but I've had to teach myself the other stuff. My family have been very supportive, spending countless hours online, trying to work out the next step forward.
We're about to send off our constitution to the Charities Commission. There are so many templates available - some simpler than others. They really help. We bumped into an expert on setting up charities and he's helped us out for free. I'll be a trustee.
What about safeguarding?
It's difficult as we want adults and children performing together. We'll make sure we have the right checks and the necessary chaperoning. We're learning!
Where's the money coming from?
We've done a few fundraisers already, e.g. jumble sale collections. We're also holding auditions for a talent showcase for existing performers, giving them the chance to be part of a bigger show and us the chance to sell tickets.
Any thoughts about bidding for grants?
We've had a look at big funders, but you need to have a charity number and we're still in the process of setting up that side of things.
What do you want Riff to do in its first five years?
We're hoping to hold a big show annually. We've already contacted the rights company for a musical that we have in mind. Once we start, we hope it can become a regular thing. It's a great opportunity to perform, to learn new skills and to network.
We also want to look at the production side too - offering a chance to people interested in costume design or lighting design or backstage management. Musicians can get involve too. There's plenty for everyone regardless of ability.
I volunteered with Brightonshed for two years - they do great work but focus on children with disabilities. I want to bring together all performers - everyone can contribute.
It'll take a few years of course!
What about in ten years' time?
I'd like to be teaching in a primary school and still doing Riff. I'd hope Riff would be expanding and that I'd be giving it as much as I can, especially if I could be doing some teaching and training.
Good luck from everyone at BroadwayWorld!