Belgrade kids seek supporters for UK theatre link-up

Bel Theatre A British drama teacher plans to bring a group of Belgrade school children to the UK for a series of creative workshops at the celebrated Theatre Royal in Bath.

All that stands in the way of this valuable cultural exchange project for young people is a deficit of cash and the UK visa system.

If they can raise money to pay for travel, accommodation and the £90 per person visa fee, the planned visit will see eleven children and young people from the Belgrade English Language Theatre (BelTheatre) working alongside the Egg Youth Theatre in Bath.

Having raised much of the £3,500 required to make this trip a reality, the clock is ticking on a final push to hit their target by 11 May, if they are to make their planned departure date of 23 May.

Many young Serbians miss out on the greatest opportunities

“For young people, one of the greatest opportunities they can be offered for learning and development is travel and the chance to meet and interact with people from other cultures,’ said BelTheatre director Dr. Paul Murray, an English actor and professor now based in Belgrade.

“For a number of reasons, many young people will never be given the opportunity to compare their own understandings of the world with others in a meaningful way. We have a chance to change that for these young people from Belgrade.”

This is the fourth foreign visit organised by BelTheatre, following trips to Croatia, Italy and the Czech Republic, funded by the generosity of members and friends.

Belgrade Children’s Cultural Centre

The 80-strong BelTheatre is a youth troupe that runs acting classes, holds workshops and performs plays in English at Belgrade’s Children’s Cultural Centre (DKC).

Belgrade English Language Theatre

Through play and interaction, the group aims to help improve the confidence and language skills of children and young people, with an emphasis on fun, creativity and working together.

BelTheatre’s creative approach to experiencing living language helps children overcome their self-consciousness and start having fun with English. “Over the past seven years we have had the pleasure of teaching over 150 children and producing thirteen original productions,’ said Paul.

“We have also arranged exchange visits to other countries and performances at festivals in Serbia.

Cash needed to pay for young Serbs to visit Britain

“We have been working hard over the last three months to raise the money required for this exciting opportunity in the UK. Through generous actions donations from a wide range of people we have raised almost £3,000 but there is still a lot of work to be done to raise the final £500.“

Bel Theatre All money raised will go to paying for visas, travel and accommodation in Bath. Any excess will be used to arrange cultural excursions for the group while in the UK.

“We are proud of our track record of opening up educational and creative opportunities to local young people,’ said Paul.

“We see the benefits that such activities have on the lives of our members and those we visit.”

“Believe us when we tell you, every pound raised makes a huge difference and will enable us to continue our efforts both now and in the future.”

At any time, such cross-border visits would be major undertakings for any community or educational group, but the costs and apparent vagaries of the recently outsourced British visa system makes this even more difficult to organise.

Bureaucracy and fees burden UK visa system

“The most challenging aspect of this project is undoubtedly the bureaucracy of the UK visa system,’ said Paul. “Unlike most European countries (signed up to the Schengen Agreement), the UK still requires people from Serbia to go through a stressful entry procedure, which costs £90, with no guarantee of a visa being awarded.

“That makes it extra complicated and expensive to organise a trip to the UK, but we are determined that, despite the financial and bureaucratic challenges, we will make this opportunity a reality.”

Potential supporters can make a donation via this IndieGoGo campaign link.

BelTheatre helps to develop skills, such as character and narrative development, voice and movement, through drama games, improvisations and stories.

Members are encouraged to develop self-expression and to explore their imagination in a fun and lively atmosphere. Students are assessed on their level of English before admission to any classes.

Anyone interested in joining a BelTheatre class should contact Paul Murray on (Serbia) 064 586 2936 or via


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