In response to the financial struggles of schools, while recognising the importance of children attending the arts, they have pledged to double their free school ticket allocation by the summer holidays, giving away 4,000 school tickets by the end of the summer term.
Polka’s established free ticket scheme Curtain Up! enables at least 2,000 primary school children per year from disadvantaged locations in Merton and the surrounding boroughs to experience theatre – usually for the first time.
Since the theatre reopened last autumn, following its major redevelopment, Polka has hosted 22 schools attending Curtain Up! performances, providing a unique theatre experience to over 1,700 children.
Lynette Shanbury, executive director of Polka Theatre, said: “We are in awe of the teachers, teaching assistants and school staff that we work with every day.
“Their determination to help children navigate this sometimes unfathomable world is incredible.”
Curtain Up! is only available by application which enables the scheme to reach the most disadvantaged children living in the most marginalised areas, schools working with children with special educational needs, and schools with financial barriers to taking part in arts activities.
On Wednesday, April 27 and 28, more than 20 Year 13 community arts students from The BRIT School in Croydon will perform The Frontline at The Obie Theatre at the School to help raise funds for Croydon Health Charity’s Power of Play appeal.
The Frontline is an original performance about key workers’ experiences of the pandemic and will raise funds for Croydon University Hospital’s children’s unit to ensure sick children and young people have vital access to play.
To create their performance, students interviewed key workers, including Vinoliya Mohan, a neonatal nurse at Croydon University Hospital, about their reflections of Covid.
Emma Banton, director of community arts practice, The BRIT School said: “Our talented students are looking forward to showcasing their creativity and performing The Frontline.
“They have all worked really hard on this performance for such an important local cause.”