Every child deserves the opportunity to participate

Creative learning may be just one part of the varied work undertaken by Trafalgar Theatres, but it is a vital part. As our Head of Creative Learning says “[this] work has never been so urgent or important following the pandemic and amid a cost-of-living crisis.” Despite this challenging climate, in 2022/23 Trafalgar Theatres proudly reached over 50,000 people from local communities with its creative learning work, including schools.  

Providing inspiring experiences to young people will always remain a core part of what we do. This is rooted in an understanding that these creative experiences, enabled by seeing live theatre, help to develop essential life skills such as confidence and resilience and improve overall wellbeing. 

Children perform in Shrek The Musical. One child in the centre is dressed in a green hat with green facepaint, and two groups of children either side wear medieval-style costumes and are singing.
Children perform in Shrek The Musical

As well as offering opportunities for children and young people to see performances in our venues right across the UK, we collaborate with local schools, colleges and universities to provide interactive workshops and masterclasses – introducing pupils and students to the world of performing arts. Our schools outreach programme has received overwhelmingly positive feedback from teachers, who report seeing improved confidence, teamwork and creative thinking from their pupils, as a result of their involvement. 

By way of example, the Churchill Theatre in Bromley hosted a creative learning week in 2022/23, which provided participation opportunities for over 300 people aged 4 and upwards. The week’s activity provided participants with an opportunity to experience immersive theatre, two youth theatre performances and a dance festival. As a result, the theatre experienced higher booking levels for its class activities, secured funding to enable more young people to engage with their Youth Theatre Programme and was able to provide work experience opportunities for local young people in the Front of House and Technical departments.  

A teenage boy smiles whilst operating a theatrical sound and lighting desk, whilst being instructed by a young woman.
Young people take part in a Technical masterclass

As well as the important work done to support schools to visit the theatre, and get the most out of their visit, we are invested in providing creative opportunities for school-age pupils outside of formal education. Our programmes, Stagecoach and Drama Kids, provide valuable extracurricular experiences for those interested in the performing arts. We believe children should be given the opportunity of participation – whether that’s through school, with their families our via their own extracurricular interests. Whichever way is it experienced, we value the way that performance skills are skills for life – supporting everything from communication, team-building and presentational skills. 

Involvement in creative learning is never an end in itself. By educating and empowering the next generation of performers, creators and arts enthusiasts, it is our ambition to create a spark that will ignite a flame – ensuring our future industry flourishes with the best emerging talent. 

With additional investment from the Government, there is an opportunity to build public-private partnerships that can create more of these enriching experiences at low or zero cost to participants. The models of best practice are already there and flourishing within our sector. What we need now is the political will and the resource to bring them to life. 

by Dame Rosemary Squire, Joint CEO, Trafalgar Entertainment 

Society of London Theatre & UK Theatre believe that every child has the right to experience and enjoy our country’s culture and world-leading theatre, so we will be asking political parties to commit to providing funding and support for our aim in their general election manifestos – that every child goes to the theatre by the time they leave school.

Find out more about our Theatre for Every Child Campaign at theatreforeverychild.org