Polka has hit its target to give away 4,000 free tickets to schools through our Curtain Up! scheme during the 2021/22 academic year.
Curtain Up! is our established free ticket scheme that supports primary school children per year from disadvantaged locations in Merton, Croydon, Wandsworth and the surrounding boroughs to experience theatre – often for the first time.
Since we reopened Polka last autumn, we have given away 4,031 tickets across 40 performances to 33 different schools or specialist units within schools. Of these, 70% are brand new to Polka. Over 50% of the schools are based in our home borough of Merton.
In previous years Polka has given away around 2,000 tickets, but in March this year we decided to double our Curtain Up! scheme. It was clear that schools were still struggling to take groups to the theatre for financial or operational reasons, linked to covid. We wanted to remove or reduce the financial barrier for schools to visit Polka by offering free tickets and travel support.
Executive Director Lynette Shanbury said: “We’re absolutely delighted we’ve hit our target to give away 4,000 free tickets to children who otherwise just wouldn’t have got to see live theatre. We know from the feedback and seeing the ecstatic reactions of the children that it is giving them an extraordinary, memorable, joyful experience. Children need that right now and theatre is the place for that magic to happen.”
Curtain Up! is only available by application which helps us to reach the most disadvantaged children living in the most marginalised areas, schools working with children with special educational needs, and schools with financial barriers to taking part in arts activities.
We want to continue to reach at least 4,000 children per year through Curtain Up! in Merton, Croydon, Wandsworth and other surrounding boroughs, and we’ll be continuing to fundraise to make that happen.
A huge thank you to our committed current Curtain Up! supporters:
- Ernest Hecht Charitable Foundation
- The Peter and Teresa Harris Charitable Trust
- Alf and Hilda Leivers Charity Trust
- The D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust
- The John Thaw Foundation
- Teale Charitable Trust
- Unity Theatre Trust
- The Barbara Whatmore Charitable Foundation
Read on to view some of the wonderful feedback from children and teachers who visited us through Curtain Up!
Ajay: “At the theatre, everyone of your staff made me feel welcome. I liked your decoration, it was eye-catching. When I walked down the corridor, it made me smile looking at the fancy decoration.“
Aimee: “The show was fantastic! I loved it when at the end, the actors came out and we asked them questions. I thought I was going to see what I expected but it was way different.“
Eleisha: “From the moment we arrived the staff at the Theatre were caring. The theatre was bright and colourful. It made me feel calm.“
Benedicta: “The show was amazing! From the start I was thinking that it was going to be the same Cinderella that we watch on TV but this one was inspiring and creative.“
“Thank you so much for the theatre trip last week for Paxton Academy. The students were absolutely blown away by how amazing the show was. About 70% of the students had never been to the theatre before and so it is fabulous to know that this experience has now been given to them hopefully to help encourage a further love of the arts. The whole theme and messages from the show about how to love yourself, promoting self esteem, positivity and being kind were excellent. The students loved the characters, the story and the singing. They have not stopped talking about this experience and so I do hope there could be the possibility of being able to do this again if the opportunity was to arise. In addition I would also like to add that the funding for the transport was also so important for allowing this experience to happen for the students. Without this it would have been extremely difficult to come via public transport. So thank you for allow us to have the additional grant for the additional coaches as this did allow this experience to happen for a greater number of the students.” (Teacher from Pxton Academy on Cinderella: The Awesome Truth!)
“Thank you so much for the offer to bring along the children to watch the Plastic Drastic Fantastic Dance show. The children had a fantastic time! I have heard lots of positive responses. A child in Year 5 also told me that this was her first time visiting a theatre, so it was amazing to offer her this experience. Thank you again! I wanted to say another thank you to the performers. It was very kind of them to answer the children’s questions. This Q&A offered the children a unique insight into the real working world. They treasured this part of the day’s trip. Thank you!” (Year 3 Teacher and PPG Champion from Lowther Primary School on Plastic Drastic Fantastic)
“All of the children and staff thoroughly enjoyed it and had so much fun. We really appreciated how inclusive the performance was which allowed all of our pupils to access it. We have also been able to do some lovely follow up work using the newspaper resources that was given out at the end of the show.” (Teacher from Woodlark Autism Provision, Larkhall Primary on The Emperor’s New Clothes!)
To find out more about Curtain Up!, click here.