Giving children the gift of theatre

In 2023, Curve celebrated its 15th year, and, as with all milestone birthdays, we’ve taken time to reflect on the theatre’s achievements over the last decade and a half. From its very inception, Curve was designed to be a theatre for all in the strongest and clearest sense. Right from the design of the building itself to our programme of work, engagement activities and beyond, we’ve always strived to create a space where everyone is able to enjoy and take part in high quality art and culture. 

For (Artistic Director) Nikolai Foster and myself, and across our wider Team Curve members, a key area has been to engage with and inspire young people, giving children of all backgrounds the opportunity to enjoy a visit to their local theatre. Between 2022 and 2023, we engaged with 30,000 participants across our Creative Programme for schools, colleges, universities and community groups, including 21,000 young people. These experiences aren’t just for entertainment (though that is, of course, a very important part!); anyone who has watched a young person engage with theatre can tell you the profound impact these visits have, from helping to encourage new ways of thinking and social skills, to developing means of self expression and an understanding of the world around them.  

An actor operates a puppet of an owl, as if the owl is sitting in a tree.
The Owl Who Came For Christmas at Curve (Photo by Ellie Kurttz)

Just over five years ago, to mark Curve’s 10th birthday, we partnered with Charity Link, an organisation which supports people and families living in situations of hardship across Leicester, Leicestershire, Rutland and Northamptonshire, to offer free seats across our festive Made at Curve productions. An entire performance of our 2018 production of The Cat in the Hat was reserved especially for this, and guests for our White Christmas press night showed unbelievable generosity in bringing gifts for us to share with the children at the end of the performance – handed to them by Santa, of course – and accompanied by free food and drinks. It was an absolute highlight of our birthday year, and in the years since, we’re proud to have turned this into an annual Curve tradition.  

Since that first year, 1,400 children, families and carers have visited Curve through these Charity Link performances, many experiencing theatre for the first time, and all enjoying a really special day out. 

In December 2023, almost 300 audience members joined us through Charity Link to watch our new Made at Curve production of The Owl Who Came For Christmas, and guests attending our Evita press night provided a range of terrific gifts for each child to receive.  

A huge thanks to all those who help make this possible, from our generous audiences and sponsors, to funders, production teams and staff members. 

No matter how large or small, it’s vital we all play our part across the industry to remove whatever barriers we can for young people engaging with theatre. These children are the theatre-makers, staff members and audiences of the future; we must nurture them. 

by Chris Stafford, Chief Executive, Curve

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