ITV News Correspondent Nina Nannar on why the arts is not ‘only for Benedict Cumberbatch’ and how you can get involved in the Norfolk youth arts scene

Norwich School students who are taking part in the Young Norfolk Arts Festival. Picture: DENISE BRAD

Norwich School students who are taking part in the Young Norfolk Arts Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

When I moved from London to Norwich It was a genuine delight to me to know that I live in such an artistically rich part of the UK.

There have been two burning questions from my 11 year old daughter this week.

1. When can I have my ears pierced?

2. When can the girls come over to rehearse A Midsummer Night's Dream?

The jury's still out on the first one. But the second fills me with joy. As someone who covers the arts for ITV News, any engagement at any level with creativity is really a wonderful, enriching thing to behold.

One story that keeps rearing its head is about elitism in the Arts. The feeling that really, it's only for Benedict Cumberbatch.

Even he doesn't believe that – believe me, I've asked him!

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And having moved to Norwich from London where the perception is that there's a film premiere on every corner of the Capital, (there's not) and everyone under 12 got to audition for Harry Potter, (they didn't!) what was wonderful about Norfolk was just how much artistic activity there is.

In particular one of the best specialist universities in the UK, Norwich University of the Arts, and the wonderful Norfolk and Norwich Festival, there is also a Young Norfolk Arts Festival.

A festival for young people and very much driven by young people too. I really haven't come across that anywhere else. I knew as soon as I moved to Norwich, I had to get involved with that.

This year alone, nearly 3,000 young people took part in events in the Young Norfolk Arts Festival. They sang, they danced, they acted, they painted, they took photographs, they wrote, they handled the scenery, directed the performances, did the make up and costumes.

And it was young people who did all the media, devised the press releases, did the online marketing, filmed the events, spread the word. Creativity by and for our young people.

And now I am honoured to be among a group of people in the newly formed Young Norfolk Arts Trust, who with all the wonderful young artists and volunteers, are taking this to the next level.

We want to see many more performances and workshops all year round in our county, from King's Lynn to Norwich to Great Yarmouth.

We know from the feedback we get, that young people and their parents, have loved the chance to get involved in Young Norfolk Arts.

The creative industries are said to generate around 10 million pounds an hour for the UK economy. But even if an eight or an 18 year old doesn't necessarily want to be an artist in the future, just taking part in some way can be so rewarding.

It doesn't matter where you're from. How many of us remember that first play at primary school?

My siblings and I were the only Asians in our school. Feeling like we fitted in, like we belonged, was sometimes a challenge. But when the school did the 12 Days of Christmas, I was asked to be the Partridge in the Pear Tree.

All I had to do was to stand up and flap my cardboard wings whenever the choir sang the chorus. But art in its simplest form is such a leveller.

I will never forget how good it made me feel to be part of the team.

We on the Trust are gearing up for another year of incredible activity, and nothing would be possible without the brilliance of our young people.

We'll be looking for performers, backstage crews, would-be reporters, but most of all, ideas and enthusiasm.

Young Norfolk Arts is YOUR organisation. Shakespeare or hip-hop, it doesn't matter. Come and take part, learn, laugh, experience.

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