Charity Awards 2024

Arts, Culture and Heritage 2023 Winners: Seenaryo

Why they won

  • Sustainability: The ‘participant-turned-trainer’ model ensures that skills and learning are continually cascaded to new people
  • Replicability: The programme has already been rolled out to every region of Lebanon and Jordan
  • Value for money: Each 10-day course costs less than £16,000 and reaches 870 people including audience members

Seenaryo works in Jordan and Lebanon, two countries that host the highest number of refugees per capita in the world and where rates of youth unemployment are 46% and nearly 30% respectively.


On stage in Saida Lebanon – the cast went on to take Seenaryo’s theatre leadership training. Photo credit – Ali Sheikh

Limited access to quality education in the countries leaves young people lacking key skills to equip them for the workforce. In particular, the arts in Lebanon and Jordan remain the preserve of wealthier or better-educated elites. Access to arts and creative expression is limited, and there are few employment options in arts and theatre.

Seenaryo’s work aims to increase public understanding of the value of providing access to creative expression. It began by delivering theatre participation projects with women and young people, helping them to write, build and deliver original plays. It then realised that by training those who took part to run after-show workshops with audience members and then to lead their own theatre projects, they could amplify the impact of the programme. As well as cascading the tools, processes and ultimately power to local communities, the scheme would also boost the skills and employment prospects of the new theatre facilitators.

Its Theatre Leadership Training (TLT) was formally launched in 2020 with a group of 10 Syrian refugee women, training them in the basic practices of participatory facilitation including drama exercises and running theatre workshops. The women went on to run five of their own theatre projects in their camps, reaching 95 more children and women.

After many iterations, TLT has now become a modular 10-day training course which is delivered by a freelance team of almost 100 theatre facilitators and trainers, 30% of whom came through the programme themselves.

The programme is now operating in every region of the two countries and has trained 510 women and young people since 2020. Each 10-day course costs less than £16,000 and reaches 870 people including audience members.

The charity aims to increase its freelancer base by 10 new theatre facilitators and assistants every year, as well as matching 10 more with other non-profits, schools or community centres.

In 2022, 100% of TLT trainees felt more confident applying for jobs in education, 98% felt better able to articulate their ideas and there was a 12.5% increase in those viewing themselves as leaders.

Awards judge Rachel Cockett said it was a “very powerful application, with a lot of good outcomes” and judge Cathy Phelan-Watkins said its reach was “extraordinary”.

Sarah Ellis said the charity had put a lot of care into the project’s design and sustainability. “The transferring of skills and learning is strong and creates a holistic approach.”

CC Reg no. 1173822

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