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What we do

Lyra recognises that access to quality culture and arts is not currently a right (as outlined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child) for children who face disadvantage, it is a privilege. Our work is focused on overcoming this inequity in Greater Craigmillar and other communities facing disadvantage.


Lyra's vision is to have a positive impact on the lives of children and young people in our community, through long-term engagement with a broad, rich performing arts programme. Our cross art-form programme includes music, dance and theatre-making, bringing children and young people together with world-class arts professionals from Scotland and abroad. 


Lyra’s core purpose is to create a programme of the highest quality artworks and projects with, for and by children and young people. Our programmes involve two main strands:

Participation - work created WITH and BY children and young people

Production – work created FOR children and young people


We work in creative partnership with our children and young people, and our approach aims to raise aspirations through world-class provision, improve confidence by developing new skills and increase self-esteem by nurturing creative expression.


A Cultural Home

Our ethos is based on creating a ‘Cultural Home’ for children and teenagers in Niddrie and Craigmillar, Edinburgh where we are embedded in the heart of the community. We aim to create a safe home environment for all local children and teens to encounter world-class live performance in the way they want – as audiences, as curators and as makers.


A Cultural Home is somewhere:

  • to feel safe

  • to belong

  • you can depend on

  • you will be looked after


A day in the life of a child coming to Lyra looks like this:

  • Arrive and have snack with your peers at our big ‘kitchen table’

  • Watch a show up in the theatre or go out on trip to the city

  • If you are on the performing side you might take a class in music, drama or dance

  • If you are more involved in behind the scenes you might take a class in lighting or sound or work on choosing a programme of shows for the theatre or planning Lyra’s annual Bright & Wild festival.

  • Attend the weekly consultation group to let the adults know how things are going and what you would like to happen next in the company

  • Audition an artist to come and work with you

Watch, Learn, Create: A journey of discovery

Our programmes are designed to create opportunities for children and young people to: 

• Watch live performance events as audience members

• Learn new skills by taking part in regular classes (such as dance, music and drama)

• Create their own performances


All activity at Lyra is free of charge and our Young Artists programme is open to anyone who wants to take part. 


“It made me happy, I was dancing to Ghostbusters” – audience member, Sprog Rock

Watching quality live performance improves:
  • Social skills

  • Sense of worth and belonging

  • Aspiration

  • Empathy

  • Confidence

Each year Lyra's Culture Crew callout to professional companies and choose the ones they want to perform in Lyra's theatre. Lyra’s regular programme provides children with a safe place to have fun and meet friends, replacing boredom or harmful activity.  We recognise that all not children want to perform on stage, however, by watching shows everyone can join in. 


The ‘Watch’ strand of our programme is for every child and young person.


“I had confidence going on stage, doing the trombone bit by myself” 
For young people who regularly attend our workshops, each week is a chance to learn new skills and develop technique in a chosen art-form, such as music, dance and multimedia or to train in backstage skills such as lighting, set, props, costumes and sound.  In just one year, we see young people progress from complete beginners to presenting high quality dance, music and theatre on stage.  Many participants attend more than one group a week with older members taking on volunteer and paid roles. 


In addition to making their own work with Lyra, we also secure opportunities for participants with world-class artists and organisations such as the Royal Scottish ConservatoireImaginateEdinburgh International Book Festival and associate dance-theatre company Curious Seed.


“Being at Lyra has changed my daughter”  

Participants have the opportunity to create their own work throughout our programme and as part of our regular workshop sessions as well as through opportunities with visiting and resident artists and Lyra’s partner organisations. 


Previous participants have created work with performance maker Lou Brodie, choreographer Hannah Venet and writer Xana Marwick. 


Young people also have the opportunity to perform in Lyra’s professional productions.

“I feel proud of myself that I did that!”
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