Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Art Centre Giving Gift of the Theatre to Children in NE

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Art Centre Giving Gift of the Theatre to Children in NE

Article excerpt

THEATRE attendance among primary school children is said to have fallen over the last few years but in one part of the North East they are taking steps to arrest the decline.

Stockton, through its arts centre ARC, has joined with the London borough of Lewisham (through its venue The Albany) to pilot a scheme called A Theatre Trip for Every Child.

The aim is to offer a free theatre trip to every child in Stockton - funded by donations from businesses in the area and members of the public.

But the first to benefit if the scheme takes off will be year one children, those aged five and six, from the borough's most hard-up households.

Annabel Turpin, boss of ARC, is also chief executive of a national network of arts centres.

"The feedback is that it's getting harder to get schools in to see work," she said.

"Likewise, I chair a North Eastbased venues network and people there are saying the same thing.

"There has been a reduction in arts in education and a slow squeezing out of arts from the curriculum.

"But it isn't all about school resources, it's also about parental resources. The combination of schools not having the money and not feeling able to ask parents for money seems to be the thing.

"Schools are fundraising now for core supplies rather than taking children out and about."

That said, Annabel and her colleagues around the country are keen that children should not be deprived of a benefit many others have enjoyed in the past.

"We certainly believe that introducing our young children to the theatre can be transformative," she said. "It can shape the way they see the world, the questions they ask and the friendships they make, but we also need the support of our local community to help us enrich the lives of our little ones.

"We are asking our community and visitors to donate an extra PS10 to give the gift of the theatre to a local child."

A PS10 donation, whether made in person at ARC or online at www. …

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