Glasgow Youth-Led Climate Crisis Legislative Theatre

Over the summer and autumn of 2021, we tackled the climate crisis through an intensive legislative theatre project led by young people.

The proposals emerging from the project, created in the run up to the COP26 conference in Glasgow in November 2021, focus on the Glasgow City Council’s climate related strategies.

The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation UK also evaluated the process in 2022 as part of its report into public engagement around COP26.

A winner of a NESTA Democracy Pioneers award, this project is a collaboration between Glasgow City CouncilKaty Rubin, and Shared Future CIC. The project kicked off in March 2021 with three online workshops involving youth focussed organisations in Glasgow. These include YoMoGlasgow Disability Alliance and Urban Fox.

After a first performance in July 2021, on the 14th September 2021 the group gave its main performance, which intended to help shape and influence policy related to the city’s climate plans, to around 30 officers, elected members and members of the public.

The performance centred on public transport, liveable neighbourhoods and accessibility.

“So much for being independent,” one of the characters said, “when you can’t renew your pass? Have the money… but the bus has only one wheelchair spot… Wouldn’t it be great if bus stops could talk so we could report such issues!”

“Thank you to Katy from YoMo for the Legislative Theatre taster workshop, which was incredible! Something totally different and really interesting, talking about important topics and had a good laugh too! Can’t wait until the COP26 project starts!”

About the Project

The project ran over six months, with multiple rehearsals and three full performances, demonstrating the commitment of the young performers.

Following the first face to face rehearsals during the summer, in late July 2021 the young participants put on an initial Legislative Theatre performance for Glasgow City Council policy staff. With scenes, at the request of the Council, focussing particularly on transport, liveable neighbourhoods and accessibility.

The Democracy Pioneers have put on another brilliant performances in mid September, and then a third and final performance in late October 2021, just before COP26, with a wider public audience. The September performance was also filmed and edited into a professional video that shown during COP26.

Cllr Anna Richardson, Glasgow City Council’s City Convener for Sustainability and Carbon Reduction, who attended the first performance in July, and the later main event in September, said of the project:

“Finding new ways of engaging with young people around the topic of climate change is of huge importance, and we need to ensure that young people’s views are represented in the coming years as we look to our COP26 legacy and beyond.”

“Climate change will have the biggest impact on our younger generations throughout their lifetime. We need to ensure that our policies not only have their best interests at heart but that they also understand their views are important and feel listened to by decision-makers in local and national government.”

“I look forward to seeing what recommendations the group come up with at the performance in September. It will certainly be eye-opening.”

Glasgow City Council’s City Convener for Sustainability and Carbon Reduction, Anna Richardson meets the Democracy Pioneers.

What Happened Next?

Over the next few months Shared Future continued working with Katy, Glasgow City Council and young people living in Glasgow on developing  their participatory theatre performances, led by those young people.

The final performance was held on the 23rd October 2021, with a wider public audience. Throughout the project we engaged citizens, stakeholders and influencers in considering and making recommendations for tackling the climate crisis.

During COP26 many of the young people participated in events, in the Green Zone, as workshops and more formal events, such as the Culture Reception, hosted by Glasgow CC, where they met Jenny Gilruth, Scottish Minister responsible for Culture.

COP26 / Culture Reception, at Glasgow City Chambers, hosted by Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Government, with Minister for Culture, Jenny Gilruth.

The work builds on our experiences coordinating a legislative theatre workshop also led by Katy, which was held in April 2020, as part of our participatory budget collaboration called YouthPB.

Watch the short explainer video, including interviews with participants recorded at the September 2021 performance.

If you want to find out more get in touch with Jez Hall.


Feature image: Jez Hall/Katy Rubin.

Embedded images: Steve Hosey, Scot Gov and SFCIC.