It's been a very different 2020 than we could ever have imagined. We started it with plans for a production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat at Easter, Cats in the summer and everything else that went alongside and in between.
But, in a review of the year that could be littered with negatives, we instead choose look at the positives:
Our young people have been simply incredible. Their resilience has been unbelievable. This generation - the 'snowflake' generation as they are so often tagged - need to be congratulated and celebrated for their resilience and commitment during an incredibly difficult time.
More positives? Our team have been amazing. From finding their way around online Zoom sessions, to creating classes that kept children engaged and challenged, to putting together a socially distanced, Covid-secure summer school, which we were able to hold at the Key; it was all unbelievably rewarding. We'd already had a warm up during the summer term for recorded performances and although not being able to invite parents and friends, at the last minute, to watch the summer school shows was disappointing, our team put together a fantastic filmed spectacle for everyone to enjoy at home.
This was also carried on in our curtailed autumn term - which ran for six weeks in the theatre before having to finish online. It resulted in a video lasting over an hour and enabled parents to see the work that goes on in all of our groups.
Our London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) examination group also faced substantial challenges with a late cancellation of exams in July. These were eventually held in October and despite the majority of rehearsals taking place online and students having to restage their pieces so they were socially distanced, we had a 100% pass rate with 95% of our students at the highest possible Distinction grade.
We also welcomed many new members online during both lockdowns, who have been joys to finally meet in the flesh.
What else? A new partnership has been established with The Geri Crooke Foundation, a charity set up in memory of a former KYT member who sadly died in 2019, which will support many young people with limited access to the arts (but who have shown real potential to succeed) to attend our sessions over the coming years.
We also held an in-person audition preparation masterclass with headshots, in addition to some virtual musical theatre workshops; we moved our annual awards ceremony online (which was a wonderful evening); dressed up during Zoom and in real-life sessions; and raised hundreds of pounds for both the NHS and Children In Need.
We also, importantly, helped raised awareness of mental health issues affecting young people and facilitated our members in having their voices heard in support of Black Lives Matter with a takeover of our social media. We were so proud of what they achieved and the reach and power of their voices.
We leave 2020 with not only an enormous sense of pride and and satisfaction, but also a whole new vocabulary and a new set of online skills. Most importantly, we leave it with a sense of hope and expectation for 2021! Weekly sessions back at the Key, Easter school, summer school at both the Key and The Cresset, our summer musical Chicago and our inaugural autumn production of High School Musical mean that despite the obvious challenges, 2021 will be our biggest and best year yet!