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Nick and I have set ourselves a task to visit as many of our partners in our region as we can over the coming months. We are keen to learn more about our partners future plans and how we can work together to address child poverty in our region.
There were four million children living below the poverty line in England in 2017 and according to the Child Poverty Action Group, child poverty is projected to increase in the East Midlands from 29.3% in 2006/08 to 36.2% between 2019/21.
But poverty is not just a matter of finance. Poverty of opportunity is also a huge barrier and one we are keen to address, so we have set out to meet and talk with as many partners as we can. One of the first on our list…our next-door neighbours at Curve.
Curve is a state-of-the-art theatre based in the heart of Leicester’s vibrant Cultural Quarter. Almost one million people a year engage with Curve through performances and projects. Under the leadership of Chief Executive Chris Stafford and Artistic Director Nikolai Foster, Curve has developed a reputation for producing, programming and touring a bold and diverse programme of musicals, plays, new work, dance and opera. All of this is presented alongside a dynamic mix of community engagement, artist development and learning programmes lead by Head of Learning Andy Reeves, which firmly places audiences, artists and communities at the heart of everything they do.
We met with Andy and Emma from Curve’s Learning department to discuss all things participation and learn about their focus for the years ahead. Curve deliver a strong community offer with outreach productions performed by their Young Company and free family days; the next celebrating Diwali with free Mehndi hand decorating, Diwali-inspired crafts, storytelling, a dressing-up box, backstage tours of Curve and performances curated by House of Verse.
But Andy and Emma recognised there are a number of barriers to engagement; high ticket prices, capacity to promote and develop a community offer and reaching broader communities all form part of the challenge. Andy is keen to raise the visibility of the work Curve are doing and continue to build relationships with local communities. There is also a conversation to be had around project funding vs sustainable development – a conversation we at TMC are eager to have.
When asked, “If money was no object what would you do?” Andy said “I would be keen to set up a Satellite Programme across the City. There would be a Youth Theatre in each area and each one would have lots of opportunity to perform in our venue. This would help to grow our audiences and engage more of our local communities”
We will be continuing to visit as many partners as we can over the coming months, so get in touch if you would like to join in the conversation #TMConTour.