Young people in the Forest of Dean are set to see the return of their youth theatre, thanks to a significant funding award from Arts Council England.

Ross Mayor, Ed O’Driscoll, who will be running the youth theatre as part of the work of charity AIR in G (Arts in Rural Gloucestershire), said he was delighted for the area.

He said: “We know that young people have suffered in lockdown. We also know that mental health is an issue. There is strong evidence that the performing arts can help young people work through anxieties in a positive way through drama. In our successful bid to Arts Council England, we contended that youth theatre had never been more needed.

“We also want young people simply to enjoy themselves. There is huge value in high-quality, cultural experiences, and youth theatre is a great way to set children onto that path.”

As Executive Director of Air in G, Ed and the Board had to make the difficult decision to close the previous youth theatre in 2019 after problems with funding.

He added: “People in the Forest will know how sad we were when we had to bring the curtain down just before Covid. This new money will make such a difference for youngsters in the Forest and we can’t wait to get classes up and running again.”

Air in G has also been awarded funding for its core programme, bringing national acts to village halls and community centres throughout Gloucestershire. The total award from Arts Council England of £225,000 will cover three years (2023-26).