Council announces free theatre trips for all Southwark primary school children 

13 March 2019

Cabinet last night (Tuesday 12 March) agreed to pledge £500,000 to implement a programme to ensure every primary child aged between five and eleven gets a free visit to the theatre every year.
Southwark has a reputation as a borough of creativity, innovation, and opportunity. Alongside Shakespeare’s Globe sit small experimental theatres in the heart of our diverse communities such as Blue Elephant and Theatre Peckham as well as brand new contemporary performance spaces such as The Bridge. In addition Southwark is home to the Unicorn, the UK’s leading professional theatre for young audiences, and the borough is fast becoming known as a destination for off-West-End theatre.
Theatre, particularly theatre for children, fires the imagination. It gives children the skills and the creativity necessary to face the world, to understand it and perhaps to change it too, discovering their own voice, growing in confidence and develop empathy.
It is now widely understood that early cultural interventions, such as this programme, can shape outcomes in later life. It’s highly likely that providing arts engagement for very young children will have a significant impact on their engagement and aspirations in later life.
With 19 theatres in Southwark and 30 located within easy access of our schools, this programme will match these theatres with the more than 20,000 primary school aged children in state funded primary schools,  home schooling, looked after children and children schooled at the Hospital and Home Tuition Sick Children's Service at Kings College and Evelina hospitals.
The creation of a digital platform will promote and bring all the opportunities for Southwark schools together in one place. It will connect schools and theatres to identify and match existing free and discounted theatre ticket schemes.
The programme will expressly work with schools that do not have a history of visiting the theatre and those in areas of higher deprivation. Resources will be focused on these non-active theatre going schools ensuring they benefit and are financially supported where needed.
Cllr Rebecca Lury, cabinet member for culture, leisure, equalities and communities, said: “We are extremely lucky to be a borough that benefits so much from its creative community. From Shakespeare’s Globe, to The Bridge, Theatre Peckham and The Blue Elephant, the cultural landscape in Southwark is incredibly rich and reflective of the diverse communities they serve.
“We know that the benefits of a rich cultural environment are significant, bringing together social and generational groups, increasing interactions amongst communities, and providing a way to share knowledge and skills.
“Our programme to introduce a free trip to the theatre for every primary school child embodies our approach and commitment to recognising the importance that culture plays in creating and sustaining our borough. With over 20,000 primary school age children in our borough, we are playing our part in opening the doors to them to new experiences and broadening their horizons.”

Page last updated: 13 March 2019