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Why we need good quality children’s theatre

4 years ago

What does going to the theatre give children? And why does it need to be of good quality?

“Every child has the right to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts.”
Article 31, UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
There is a constant conversation within the arts world about what children gain from being taken to the theatre, why it is such a valuable experience and how much funding it is given – or not.
Childrens theatre
Increasingly, children are told what to do, say, think and are given less and less space to think and explore for themselves. They have to absorb and regurgitate hours of information during the long school days, and as the pace of life increases, along with the invasion of technology there appears to be less and less time made for activities like bedtime story reading as handheld devices progressively provide the entertainment; this exasperates the fact that children’s imaginations are not being engaged like they used to through imaginative play.
When a child sits in a theatre seat, the house lights go down and the stage is filled with colour and light, sound, drama, excitement; their senses are sharpened. The door to their imagination is suddenly wide open as they explore and inhabit a brave new world probably very different from their own. It is at the theatre that children can learn to empathise. And this is just one of the very good reasons why it is important that the theatre children see is good quality. Because it has the power to excite, to challenge, to change people – and to help them walk a journey in someone else’s shoes.
Action for Children’s Arts believes that the arts are as important for children as they are for adults – and deserve a fair share of the funding.
“Children up to twelve years of age make up 15% of the population, but Freedom of Information requests made by Action for Children’s Arts last year revealed that only 1% of public funding for the arts supports work for children.”
So it is very important that we support good quality children’s theatre and that our children are given the opportunity to be moved, delighted, enchanted, inspired and entertained.
How many times did you and your child go to the theatre together in the last year? How about making a trip together soon to share all that the theatre can bring? And if you want to have them fully experience the immersion of whatever it is you choose to see – avoid the irritating distraction of those rustling sweet papers, leave hands free to applaud and save them for the interval…let the theatre be the treat.
Written by Juliette Caton, our Creative Patron.