Why is young people's creativity venerated when it is channelled into pop music but ignored in other media, asks Stewart McGill, artistic director of Playbox Theatre...
We hail new bands comprising young people, read the music press as the debate heats up as to whether Franz Ferdinand, Bloc Party or Kasabian represent the new voice of revived Britpop.
These young artists are followed, encouraged, supported by their industry press and perceived as immediate commentators on life in the 21st century UK.
Their contemporaries exploring theatre - young people in their late teens and early 20s - on the contrary are ignored, downgraded and labelled amateurs by the critical press and largely the industry in which they seek a future role.
As musicians loved, as theatre artists of the future, dismissed. It is a shameful trait in our arts infrastructure that pays lip service to the importance of young people, often cynically programmes work hoping to bring in a young - often school based - audience but will not give their work as artists more than a fleeting glance.
In one theatre over the past 12 months, Ron Hutchinson developed his post 9/11 drama Believers which later played in the USA, Sarah Woods is working on a new epic drama focussing on the world ahead if current trends continue post Kyoto, Purcell's The Fairy Queen has been given a circus-theatre production with leading early music ensemble, whilst in the studio actors, dancers and martial arts exponents are exploring the potential of a new piece of theatre based on ancient Chinese legends for 2005-6.
All this alongside a repertoire of Shakespeare, Lorca, April de Angelis, Philip Ridley and George Farquar.
At the National Theatre it would be considered exciting, yet this is at Playbox Theatre Company's Dream Factory in Warwick, the UK's first purpose built theatre for young people.
Despite the evolution of this company into one of the UK's foremost working in the arts with young people the critics largely stay away, key figures in the industry - many claiming to be "passionate" about young people's work - are often too busy and the theatre's own trade paper ignores innovation.
Therefore the work, invention, concerns and passion of young people choosing theatre as a mode of creation and expression is marginalised whilst their colleagues in contemporary music rocket ahead. Result: demoralisation and often a decision to explore new forms rather than theatre, feeling their voices are unwanted.
There are exceptions of course. The Shell Connections at the National Theatre annually places new writing for young people and performed by young casts on its stages and recently Bristol Old Vic's Youth Theatre have developed The Passion for their King Street auditorium.
I do not necessarily advocate young people taking over our theatres - though it could prove an exciting way of enticing new audiences - my cry is for an industry that is scarcely popular with the young to begin to value and validate their creative work as artists or face the real danger of being ignored after school-leaving.
It amazes me that when a playwright as respected as Ron Hutchinson creates a new epic drama - one of the first to respond to 9/11 - no critics for national papers reviewed it as serious.
This collage of text, multimedia and new score was created in as much detail, analytical thought and professional input as any theatre work. Or are the voices of young people regarding their world and its theatre not of the same importance as others? I guess not.
Does a theatre industry believe that only in post-drama school can an artist attain their voice?
One of the key players in the London theatre right now is playwright Laura Wade. Until 2002 she was a director of Playbox Theatre Company and writing work for young people here - early Wade demonstrated all the fascinating elements and stylistic form that is now flourishing in her work.
How visionary if critics had spotted her genius whilst she was creating some groundbreaking projects out of town.
Morale in theatre writing for and with young people often sinks when thrilling work is overlooked and, of course, no one expects the Billingtons or Nightingales of this world to attend all first nights but it does make us smile when new developments in theatre form, the rise of multidisciplinary theatre, circus-theatre, working with visual arts installations etc are hailed - rightly but we point out that performers in this company were doing this 15 years ago.
It is time for theatre made by young people to be placed higher on the agenda and its writers, makers and collaborators taken seriously.
The professionalism and determination match that of our colleagues in other companies, the theatrical adventure as thrilling, our audiences as diverse and as vocal. We need our industry to validate and advocate the work of young people on stage.
For too long this work has been seen as social engineering rather than "arts" driven. Do not ignore the voices rising on our stages or they will abandon the theatre and express their world in other forms and we will have a future theatre that is impoverished.
Last year at the RSC New Work Festival, a superb conference launched The Monsterists - large scale writing for big spaces - bringing epic themes back to our stages. Inspired by this idea Playbox have commissioned a leading voice of Monsterism Sarah Woods to work with us over a lengthy development period to make a large scale work on the environment - big storytelling, global themes, multidisciplinary in concept and staged in a theatre built for young people.
It will be tragic if this work as so much else goes ignored by a profession and arts press who easily dismiss as "yoof" drama.
Imagine if Franz Ferdinand or Coldplay launched a new album dealing with global issues - one would be trampled on by industry and media at the event.
Young peoples' theatre is not cutting edge music but their voices should be heard, they are as provocative and compelling as their contemporaries in the recording studio and together represent a caring and passionate awareness of the world they inhabit.