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Project information

Help Laika the Spacedog fly again!

Building on the success of our 2013 tour of the award-winning opera about the first dog in orbit, English Touring Opera are planning a revival of Laika the Spacedog in 2015. We will share this exciting work with new audiences across the UK in schools, libraries and theatres from Truro to Perth.

March 2016 - June 2016

Charity information: English Touring Opera

English Touring Opera logo
  • Need


    With the arts becoming less prominent in the National Curriculum, ETO is focused on ensuring that the pejorative branding of opera as ‘elitist’ does not preclude creating positive experiences of this art form. State schools are often unable to support much access to high-quality music for their pupils, so it is essential that we make inspiring opportunities available, and dispel the myth that opera is reserved for the privileged.


    ETO will continue our award-winning programme of taking opera into schools and libraries across the UK at 35+ locations. Children who attend our operas will experience a great story told through music, and hopefully have a positive first experience of an art form that can appear inaccessible. The story of Laika has links to several subjects within the National Curriculum, so to help schools get the most from from our visit, we will provide a Teacher’s Pack with activities relating to the opera.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To provide over 6,000 young people with a positive first experience of live opera


    » We will tour a live opera into schools and libraries, reaching audiences from Perth in Scotland to Truro in Cornwall as part of ETO’s national tour.

    What success will look like

    We collect feedback from every partner school at which we perform. Audience reactions to our Spring 2015 opera, Shackleton's Cat, were universally positive!

    Aim 2

    To complement classroom learning by linking to the Key Stage 2 Curriculum


    » Laika has been written for children aged 7-11 and contains themes that complement the National Curriculum in Science, Geography, English and Music.

    What success will look like

    We are creating a new Teacher's Pack to accompany Laika that offers a wealth of background information and activities which strengthen the links between the opera and Key Stage 2.

    Aim 3

    To support teachers in using music activities in the classroom


    » We will create a Teacher’s Pack with a range of activities and resources for use in the classroom, in order to enhance the experience of seeing Laika
    » We will also send teachers a CD of songs from the opera for children to learn in advance so they can participate in the performance they attend.
    » The Teacher’s Pack is designed for use both before and after our visit with a broad range of educational activities that relate to the story of Laika

    What success will look like

    We will send a CD of music and detailed instructions which will assist teachers, even those with little musical knowledge, when preparing children for participatory songs in Laika.

    Aim 4

    To engage schools with limited access to live arts events.


    » Our tour will reach audiences across most of the UK, prioritising smaller towns and communities with limited arts provision.
    » We will work with ETO's host venues and local music hubs to identify schools that would benefit most from having a performance of Laika

    What success will look like

    We seek out schools at which to perform our children's operas, and prioritise those with limited access to music and live performance.Many such schools are now regular ETO partners

    Aim 5

    To explore exciting partnerships with non-arts venues to extend the reach of our work.


    » We will continue to build partnerships with libraries and museums, giving performances which offer opportunities for families to learn together.

    What success will look like

    We are planning to increase public performances of Laika in 2016 with the Science Museum, Warwick Arts Centre, Jodrell Bank and libraries around the country as planned venues.

  • Impact


    We hope that attending a performance of Laika will begin an enthusiasm for opera and an interest in learning more about the Space Race. The opera features strong female characters, which we also hope will encourage young girls to consider STEM subjects for future study. Feedback from previous children's operas has strongly indicated that audiences now have a positive image of going to the opera which can only be an encouraging step towards building future mainstage audiences across the UK.


    There is a risk that schools could pull out of a performance at the last minute, as happened in 2015. We are forming closer links with music hubs in order to minimise future cancellations, and also will have more robust fall-back options in place (alternative venues).

    Another risk is securing funding, as failure to do so may result in a smaller number of performances, giving fewer children the opportunity to experience the power of live opera.


    We will make regular updates as the 2016 tour of Laika takes shape, with performers reporting in from rehearsals and performances. This will also help us stay in touch with schools who are looking forward to Laika. Where possible, we would also love to welcome donors to rehearsals and performances.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £52,635

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £20,838 Singers Rehearsal and performance fees for 4 singers
      £14,121 Instrumentalists Rehearsal and performance fees for 4 instrumentalists
      £6,988 Travel The cost of taking all the musicians (and their instruments) around the UK
      £3,888 Stage Management Stage management and other administrative costs
      £3,400 Production Management The costs of directing the rehearsals and performances, updating design element and composer's fee
      £3,400 Resources & Contingency Creating the Teacher's Pack, evaluation materials, marketing costs and 3% project contingency budget

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Arts Council England Strategic Touring Grant £20,000 Guaranteed
    School generated income £9,625 Guaranteed
    Joyce Fletcher Trust £2,000 Guaranteed
  • Background


    Laika will tour as part of ETO's spring 2016 season, with performances from Perth in Scotland to Truro in Cornwall. We will be prioritising schools and libraries in deprived areas and those with limited access to live arts. This includes venues in Wolverhampton, Blackpool and Leicester which are historically areas of least engagement with the arts in the UK, and Lambeth, one of the most deprived boroughs in England.


    We aim to reach over 6,000 children by touring Laika the Spacedog. In addition, the project will also engage families and members of the public.

    As well as benefiting those who attend a performance, the provision of a Teachers' Pack will enable many more young people to benefit from our work. The pack is designed to help teachers to feel comfortable using performing arts in the classroom, particularly when teaching non-arts subjects and will be free to download on the ETO website.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    ETO covers more of the UK than any other opera company, prioritising regions with limited arts provision. We have vast experience of creating award-winning operas for children.

    A selection of comments from our previous opera, Shackleton's Cat:

    "I really, really enjoyed it because it was fantastic entertainment"-Child

    "It is exactly the kind of performance that would stay with them for life, allowing them a path into a form of culture that might otherwise seem mysterious or elitist" -Parent

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Tim Yealland

    ETO's Head of Education and writer of Laika. Tim has vast experience of writing and directing award-winning operas for children and young people.

    Russell Hepplewhite

    Russell is the composer. He is an award-winning composer whose operas for children are works of high artistic merit, engaging and never patronising.

    Jude Munden

    Jude is the designer of set, props and costumes. Her sets are ingenious and multipurpose creations which can be easily transported and assembled.

    ETO Company

    The roles in Laika the Spacedog will be performed by young professional singers and musicians from ETO’s company, supporting their career development.

Laika the Spacedog (courtesy of Robert Workman)

Laika the Spacedog (courtesy of Robert Workman)

“It was the first opera I’ve ever seen, and it will probably be the BEST!”

Amy, 10