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Thursday, February 22, 2024
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Harrow-based charity launches initiative to preserve the magic of theatre for local schools

A recent survey has exposed a concerning reality for one in five young people aged 16–24: the potential loss of the cherished tradition of Christmas shows and pantomimes due to school budget cuts.

These findings highlight a growing issue as schools face increasing financial constraints, leading to cutbacks on crucial cultural experiences, including trips to the theatre.

John Lyon’s Charity, a leading grant-giver based in Harrow, is on a mission to bridge this gap and ensure that every child gets to experience the enchantment of theatre.

Recognising the challenges faced by schools, especially in North and West London, the charity is calling upon them to apply for its Cultural Capital Fund, specifically designed to finance theatre trips and other cultural opportunities for state schools.

The survey indicated that 22% of 16–24-year-olds identified school as their sole opportunity to attend a theatre performance.

Earlier this year, The Sutton Trust unveiled a stark reality: 50% of schools in the most disadvantaged communities were compelled to reduce trips and outings, a notable increase from 21% the previous year.

Insufficient government funding is applying immense pressure on schools, making it challenging for them to provide essential opportunities, such as cultural outings.

In response to this, organisations like John Lyon’s Charity play a pivotal role in ensuring that children and young people, irrespective of their economic background, have equal access to enriching cultural experiences.

Harrow-based charity launches initiative to preserve the magic of theatre for local schools Harrow Online
Image: John Lyon’s Charity, Harrow.

Wayne Bate, Assistant Headteacher at Gifford Primary School said: “Funding from John Lyon’s Charity’s Cultural Capital Fund enabled our Year 6 pupils to attend the theatre production of Wicked. The impact of this experience on our students, particularly those from deprived areas, was truly remarkable.

“I conducted an assembly and asked the pupils to raise their hands if they had previously attended a West End musical and was astounded to find that less than 10 pupils out of 123 raised their hands. Gifford Primary School is immensely grateful for this funding as external theatre trips and outings are becoming more and more difficult due to drastic budget cuts.”

Dr. Lynne Guyton, CEO of John Lyon’s Charity said: “With ongoing budget cuts coupled with the Cost of Living crisis, it is no surprise that schools are feeling the financial squeeze and having to cut experiential activities like trips and theatre visits.

“We created the Cultural Capital Fund because we believe that everyone is entitled to experience the beauty of theatre. Starting a theatre-going habit for children will ensure diverse audiences for the future and not just the privileged few.

Harrow-based charity launches initiative to preserve the magic of theatre for local schools Harrow Online

“The Cultural Capital Fund is, and always will be, about equity in cultural capital for all children and young people. We want to remind schools that through our Cultural Capital Fund, we can help give students an opportunity to experience the magic and wonder of theatre and alleviate some of the financial pressures. Please apply, we want to help bridge this budget gap!”

For anyone interested in finding out more, please click here.