A weekend childcare scheme for parents working in theatre is being set up in the West End.
Matinee Club is being described as a “creative kids club” for children over four years old, and will run on Saturdays from October 6.
It is the brainchild of actor Sarah Middleton, who said she became aware of the lack of support for theatre professionals while doing part-time childcare work.
“I was looking after a boy a few months ago because his mum was doing a matinee and she couldn’t find anything last minute, and it made me realise how frustrating it must be. There was nothing she could call on in that situation,” Middleton said.
She described Saturday afternoons as a “tricky no man’s land” for parents working in theatre, whose children are at school during the week, but who may need childcare if they work weekend shows.
“We hope that by running this, for at least that one show of the week, parents don’t need to worry about sorting childcare,” she said.
While the service will begin by running one session per week, for up to 13 children, Middleton said she would consider expanding to other days of the week if the demand is there.
Matinee Club is open to anyone working in any role in theatre, and will run from 12.30pm to 6pm in a creative workspace in Leicester Square.
It will cost £45 for the day, and the Actors Children’s Trust has agreed to help fund the fee for actors who cannot afford it.
The service itself will be run by experienced staff with enhanced DBS checks, Middleton said, and will focus on delivering a range of creative activities for children, including bringing in specialist teachers when the club is running at capacity.