18 February 2022

NOW Festival

After last year’s NOW Festival was forced to go digital, this year the RAISE Team were delighted to be able to return to delivering two nights of live entertainment to a combined audience of over 300 people – tickets sold out on both nights.

The Black-e was the setting for this year’s festival, where over 114 children and young people from schools and youth groups developed and delivered unique pieces focusing on the theme, ”What needs to change to bounce forwards?”  There was also a special guest performance from  Joseph Nix, Early Doors Band, Harin Ellis, Amy and Ammarah, and Yasmin Marrow and the internationally acclaimed aerial theatre company, Wired who opened the show on both nights.

Schools and groups included: Archbishop Blanch, Rice Lane Primary, YPAS, Attitude Performing Arts, St Julies, Redbridge, Belvedere School, Windsor Primary, Holly Lodge, Barnardos Action with Young Carers, Sandfield Park, De La Salle, and St Francis of Assisi.

Speaking about one of the performances, Leigh Horner, one of the festival organisers said: “It’s amazing to see this event grow from strength to strength this year, despite the Covid-19 challenges. A key thing that I will always remember is St Julies focused their piece around toxic masculinity and male suicide rates. After an extremely powerful performance, I was standing at the side of the stage and I looked to the audience, and just saw men, standing up one by one and clapping, one wiping away the tears from his eyes. In their piece, they sent the message home that men could cry and I just remember thinking wow, this is what it’s all about!”

Each year, the NOW Festival engages children and young people on the subject of mental health and emotional wellbeing. This year’s performers included:

  • 114 children and young people took part in the festival over the two nights
  • Secondary Age (11-18 years): 91 young people
  • Primary Age (10 and 11 years): 23 children
  • Gender Split: 93 females, 21 males, 3 Gender Fluid, 2 Non-Binary
  • Disability or Additional Needs? 7 young people with additional needs.

Click here to visit the MYA YouTube channel to watch this year’s films. 

Here’s what some of the staff, performers and audience members had to say:

“Just a quick one to say a big thank you for last week. It’s always such a great event but after 2 years of hardly any performances, our girls were just so delighted to be on a stage, for many of them, their first time in front of an audience that wasn’t just their class.

I know how much work goes into these events so a big big thank you.”

Alice Douglas (St Julies)

“I just wanted to email to say thank you for all of the hard work that you and the Raise team put into the NOW Festival. We love the festival and it was amazing for us to be back in it after missing it for two years. It definitely got us into the swing of things again and we cannot wait for next year’s already. We genuinely love it!!!”

Kimberley Preston (Attitude Performing Arts)

Members of the YAY Group said:

“To the RAISE Team this is a short message for you on behalf of the YAY Group. I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you so much for all your hard work and thank you so much for all your support to all of us throughout the NOW Festival I know that over the past two nights you guys have always said thank you to all of us but now it’s our turn to say thank you to all of you because without all of you now festival would never have existed thank you for everything we hope to see you all again soon.
From everyone in the YAY Group.”

“Well done everyone. I’ve loved being part of the NOW festival I am so proud of everyone because everyone inspires me so much you are all amazing in every way well-done hope to see you all again soon thank you all for everything.”

“So happy for all the new faces this year you’ve absolutely made this year’s NOW Fest! Lovely to meet you Harin, can’t wait to see what else you’ve got for us in the future!☺️xx”

“I have really enjoyed being part of NOW Festival and I can’t believe that tonight is the last night of the NOW Festival for this year I don’t want it to end because I’ve loved every single minute of it ❤️”