Project information


The challenge this Christmas is to allow children in Wakefield to discover:
• Creative talents
• Enjoyment of live theatre
• New friends & opportunities

By providing:
• Bursaries
• A school trip
• Master classes

Support provided will build confidence, increase skills & create friendships

January 2019 - December 2019

Charity information: Wakefield Theatre Trust

Wakefield Theatre Trust logo
  • Need


    The economic profile of Wakefield District means that many families are struggling financially and come from low socio-economic backgrounds, with 14% of the District’s population residing in areas among the 10% most deprived in the country. 21.4% of children in the District are living in poverty. Together these factors create significant barriers to participation and restricted aspirations. This leads to low arts engagement, with only 35% of people engaged with the arts.


    The project creates a pathway from pantomime audience member through to one-off arts participation, then the opportunity for regular participation. By funding, and raising awareness of, means-tested bursaries, barriers to participation are removed. Alongside skills in singing, dance and drama, their training develops skills in speaking and listening, teamwork and problem solving. Young people are encouraged to develop the confidence to present themselves well and achieve their potential.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To welcome first-time audience members to experience the magic of theatre at our annual pantomime.


    » Approach schools / youth groups from disadvantaged areas, who would not normally attend, to take part in our 'gift of panto' performances.

    What success will look like

    By engaging up to 4 new schools / youth groups, communicating our aims and working together to provide an enjoyable and rewarding experience for young people.

    Aim 2

    To offer subsidised one-off 'bitesize' learning experiences with skilled Performing Artists


    » We will increase the bursary provision for our Easter three-day course, and recruit participants from our 'gift of panto' schools / youth groups

    What success will look like

    Our previous 'bitesize' project provided 4 bursary places. The funding target would allow us to offer two additional bursary places for each of the engaged schools / youth groups

    Aim 3

    To offer subsidised weekly musical theatre training, increasing accessibility to quality learning


    » Our intention is to offer bursary provision in line with the district's poverty profile, IE. 1 in 5 places at our Performance Academy

    What success will look like

    By meeting the high demand for Performance Academy bursaries, and high retention of these participants. Increased participation of subsidised youth in our 'auditioned' productions

  • Impact


    The number of students that are in receipt of training bursaries through the Academy, and also performing in our summer youth musical productions has grown from 2 participants up to 11 participants over a 24-month period, a testament to the long term benefits of this subsidised training. We aim to support a strong representation of under-privileged performers in our produced work with young people. Increasing awareness and developing skills are key to creating a level playing field


    We believe that financial hardship, and a lack of awareness of provision are the biggest barriers to participation. Despite working in an area of low-arts engagement, we opened a third Performance Academy in September 2017 to accommodate growing waiting lists for our training provision. Our pantomime attracts 30,000 visitors annually. Raising awareness though our marketing department, and fostering schools relationships with our learning team are key to successful project outcomes.


    Tiered donation benefits will invite donors to join us at key points through the year such as our Performance Academy showcase, Youth Musical productions, and pantomimes. Pre / post-show opportunities to meet our learning and artistic teams will allow us to outline the benefits in person.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £36,460

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      Amount Heading Description
      £26,550 Full Bursaries 30 fully funded places at our weekly Performance Academy
      £7,350 Assisted Places 30 reduced cost places at our weekly Performance Academy
      £1,600 School pantomime visits Visits for four schools to attend our annual pantomime
      £960 Bitesize course Three day musical theatre training

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Corporate £7,000 Guaranteed
    Trusts £3,500 Guaranteed
    Gala Dinner £6,000 Guaranteed
  • Background


    Theatre Royal Wakefield serves the Wakefield community, and a broader audience from across Yorkshire. Despite our growing audience numbers, and well-subscribed learning programmes for young people, Wakefield remains situated within the lowest 20% for arts engagement nationally. The district has the 8th highest rate of deprivation in the region, with low income contributing significantly to these figures. We keep prices low and provide bursaries to stop economic barriers to participation.


    Expanding the learning work that we currently provide with a new programme of work for children and families will offer opportunities to bond over an enjoyment of the arts. By providing an environment where no young person has to audition to enrol in Performance Academy, and financially supported places ensure that participation is open to everyone, our young people interact on a level playing field with others from different cultures and backgrounds, gaining a greater social awareness.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Theatre Royal Wakefield runs bespoke learning programmes working across a number of identified at-risk groups including young people from low-income families, socially isolated older people, and adults working to improve their mental wellbeing. In 2017 - 2018 our outreach programme engaged with over 1200 unique learners, providing over 13,000 instances of participation. Our produced work involving young performers reaches audiences exceeding 35,000 annually, with a reputation for quality.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Louise Denison, Performance Academy Principal

    Louise has worked extensively as a director and choreographer, including pantomime and youth musicals for TRW. Principal of our Academies for 7 years

    Katie Town: Executive Director, TRW

    Experience includes planning new Learning Centre, and devising family Learning programming for the National Theatre

    Gavin Leonard, Engagement And Partnerships Officer, TRW.

    Supporting recruitment and delivery for our Performance Academy for 7 years, and fundraising to increase accessibility of our learning programme

    Rhiannon Hannon: Head Of Learning, TRW

    A Theatre Director & Facilitator with expertise of creating, managing & delivering complex projects with diverse groups.