Scene Change was our first collaborative technical skills project between the UK and Brazil, which began in August 2014 and invited over 100 students from technical colleges in the UK and 200 from Brazil to embark on a three year imaginative journey into film making, costume design, and marketing, inspired by three famous operas – Madama Butterfly, La Traviata, and Lo Schiavo.

Helping us to foster this creative learning between cultural institutions were our partners, including the Royal Opera House, whose existing and successful live-brief project Design Challenge formed of the basis for Scene Change and internationalised by the team. We also collaborated with High House Production Park and Creative & Cultural Skills in the UK, and Theatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro, FUNARTE, and Spectaculu – Escola de Arte e Tecnologia, and CIEP Alberto Pasqualini in Brazil. The whole project sat under the umbrella of British Council Transform, and was facilitated in Brazil by People’s Palace Project. 

Scene Change kicked off due to the high demand from partners both in the UK and Brazil to collaborate on skills development for young people, to share methodologies between the two countries, and to contribute to policy with regards to engagement with young people. 

In the three years of Scene Change, there were four study visits, eight Skype conversations between the UK and Brazil, two seminars, two judging panels and film award ceremonies, and eight exhibitions. During the three years, a new methodology was created, and students from Brazil and the UK communicated through a Facebook group and were able to learn from each other and become more motivated to create their work, which in turn increased their skills and confidence.

We were even able to invite tutor Rogerio and student Ipojucan to visit London all the way from Spectaculu Brazil in March 2015 to visit an array of cultural and educational institutions, to exchange knowledge on how young people could be engaged as creative thinkers, how theatre and the wider arts sector can make links with formal education, and how young people can work with live briefs from the industry. Also as a part of Design Challenge, students took part in creating five minute films based on the themes of the operas, which were later showcased at the Embassy of Brazil in April 2017, in London.

Scene Change touched so many lives, and had such long lasting effects that we took it as inspiration and created Backstage to the Future, our current flagship youth live skills training programme, which we ran in Rio, Colombia, the Caribbean (Jamaica), and soon to be, Bogota. Read more about it here.