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Children’s theatre in rural areas to expand under new project

The Hopper project hopes to take children's theatre to areas with low arts engagement The Hopper project hopes to take children's theatre to areas with low arts engagement
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A new project designed to bring children’s theatre to rural audiences has announced six companies that will make up its inaugural touring programme.

The Hopper scheme, which is being trialled in Somerset and Surrey, aims to bring theatre to areas of low arts engagement.

Tangled Feet, Dancing Strong and Hikapee are among the companies selected to take shows into theatres, pre-schools, nurseries, libraries and children’s centres as part of the programme over the next two years.

Other companies selected for the scheme, which targets children from poorer, less advantaged areas, include Second Hand Dance, Flibbertigibbet Theatre and Aycorn East.

A representative from each company will also be invited to take part in a Lab programme, a residency that will bring artists, early years staff and theatre managers together to explore how to reach more children with quality performances.

The project is run by arts charity Take Art, theatre studio China Plate and Surrey Arts, which is a department of Surrey County Council that aims to increase arts participation.

Paul Warwick, director at China Plate, said: “The Lab is a chance to increase the amount of live performance that can tour into early years settings – taking the work directly to children who may not have seen theatre or dance before.

“It’s such an opportunity and could spark an interest in the arts that lasts a lifetime.”

Hopper receives £92,071 in funding from Arts Council England and £22,000 from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, of which more than £64,000 goes directly to artists to fund touring, adapting or developing their work.

Tamsin Mosse, Hopper project manager at Take Art, said: “The standard of applications to take part was very high and competition was intense, with over 70 applications from the UK, America, Norway and Spain.

“The six successful companies all offered something visually exciting, intriguing and full of potential.”

The Hopper scheme is funded by Arts Council England, the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Arts Partnership Surrey.

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