Every child should see brilliant theatre! We want them all to experience the thrill of that electrifying live, shared experience, and we don’t want a whole generation of children to miss out due to the repercussions of Covid. This is a tough world for children right now – the impact of Covid continues to cause immense stress and anxiety, and inequality is a growing, monstrous issue. Theatre gives children a creative outlet, an escapist ride into the world of stories, a way to reflect on their own world, and a chance to experience emotional journeys together.
Curtain Up! is our established free ticket scheme enabling at least 2,000 primary school children per year from disadvantaged locations in Merton and the surrounding boroughs to experience theatre – often for the first time. Since we reopened Polka last Autumn we have had 22 schools attending Curtain Up! Performances already, providing a unique theatre experience to over 1,700 children. Now we are planning to double that by the summer holidays, giving away a total of 4,000 school tickets by the end of this coming summer term.
We are in awe of the teachers, teaching assistants and school staff that we work with every day. Their determination to help children navigate this sometimes unfathomable world is unbounded. We know how hard it is right now to plan a trip to the theatre, to get the funds, to plan the travel, to try to do it even when staff Covid absences are causing so many problems.
While we can’t do anything to help with staffing infrastructure or Covid absences, alongside our flexible booking policies, we can try to remove or reduce the financial barrier for schools to visit Polka by offering free tickets and travel support.
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. We want to thank all our committed current Curtain Up! supporters:
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
As one of the teachers who recently visited with a Curtain Up! group said:
“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… They have not stopped talking about this experience.”
We can’t wait to see them again at Polka!