ARC, Stockton Arts Centre, are excited to announce a significant new initiative that aims to give every child in Stockton the chance of a free trip to the theatre.

Over the last few years, theatre attendance among primary school children has fallen dramatically across the country. By working with the local community, ARC hope to counteract this decline by offering a free theatre trip to every child in Stockton, funded by donations from the public and businesses in the region.

A Theatre Trip for Every Child will enable the children of Stockton to take advantage of the rich cultural offer available on their doorstep, Annabel Turpin, Chief Executive of ARC, hopes the campaign will remove typical barriers associated with attending the theatre, “often people can be put off by the perceived cost barrier, or because they aren’t sure it’s for them, withA Theatre Trip for Every Child we hope to encourage local children to build a lifelong relationship with the theatre, and culture more generally. To be confident in going in to, and making use of, our public, cultural spaces.”

The scheme, which is initially scheduled to run over two years, will first offer places to every Year 1 child (ages 5 and 6) child in the Borough – as the scheme develops, this will be expanded to other age groups.

The minds behind A Theatre Trip for Every Child believe that arts and culture should be for the masses, not the classes. It’s for exactly this reason that ARC Stockton’s team are ready to ensure each child who attends has a warm, memorable and enjoyable experience, with the aim of creating a lasting connection betweenchildren in the Borough of Stockton and the theatre.

“We certainly believe that introducing our young children to the theatre can be transformative, it can shape the way they see the world, the questions they ask and the friendships they make,” continued Annabel Turpin, “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 £10 to give the gift of the theatre to a local child.”

The theatre is calling on the local community to support the scheme, enabling more and more children to take advantage of the opportunity. A £10 donation will cover a ticket for a child, and ARC Stockton hopes that individuals and businesses will contribute over the coming two years to make a real difference for the school children of the region. Donations can be made in person at ARC Stockton, or online.

The initiative has been developed in partnership with The Albany, a cross-arts venue in Lewisham who are working together because of the similarities’ between the two boroughs they serve: Stockton served by ARC and Lewisham served by The Albany.

The two venues are supported by Arts Council England and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation to pilot the initiative until March 2019, with the view to making A Theatre Trip for Every Child a national scheme in the future.

Locally, Stockton Council are throwing their support behind A Theatre Trip for Every Child and ARC will work closely with Stockton BID and Stockton Council in encouraging key businesses to provide sponsorship.

Councillor Norma Wilburn, Cabinet Member for Arts, Leisure and Culture, Stockton Borough Council said:

“I am delighted to support this exciting and important initiative. In this 21st century where much of even our very young children’s creative experiences of the world are through TV, ipads and other electronic media, this opportunity to introduce the amazing world of live theatre to every 5-year old in Stockton will give all of our children a new and different perspective and one that I believe will last them a lifetime.

I’m sure the elements of a theatre trip – the anticipation, the excitement, the participation in conjunction with others in the enjoyment of the event – will form one of their earliest happy memories. I am so pleased to be able to be a part of this and would encourage others toassist in what may be a transformational initiative for the children of Stockton on Tees.”

Lynne Snowball, Chair, ARC Board of Trustees said:

“We are all very excited at ARC about this scheme. It gives local people and businesses, from the smallest to the largest, the chance to show their community spirit. I feel sure that we’ll get a good response from people and businesses in Stockton, giving lots of local children the chance of a theatre trip, possibly for the first time.”

Further information about the scheme and how to donate is available on the Every Child page on the ARC website at http://arconline.co.uk/support-us