Every pupil in year 6 of primary school in the London borough of Newham will be given the chance to see Inua Ellams’ re-imagining of The Little Prince for free this year, as part of a council-led initiative.
The Newham Council enrichment programme is a replacement for its Every Child scheme, which came under threat last year due to budget restraints. It has been repurposed into a wider cultural offer being piloted this year.
However, it still means that more than 5,000 primary school children in the east London borough will be able to access theatre for free, as they have done for six previous years. Pupils will attend Ellams’ stage adaptation of The Little Prince, produced by Fuel, at Stratford Circus Arts Centre early this year.
The playwright said: “I am delighted that my adaptation of The Little Prince is going to be part of this wonderful scheme. It is important to me that a new generation of theatregoers will be able to experience for free the joy of this wonderful story about the power of belief, the importance of small efforts, and the meaning of friendship.”
Last year, Newham Council attracted criticism after warning that its need to make more than £14 million of funding cuts meant that the Every Child a Theatre Goer scheme could be scrapped.
The new enrichment programme – which covers theatre trips as well as music lessons and other artistic projects – will be subject to external monitoring this year, and the council said that its impact will be assessed before deciding on a cultural offering beyond 2020.
Newham’s cultural education programme has previously been praised for opening up the arts to children in the borough, many of whom would not otherwise have access to cultural activities.
Figures from both the arts and education sectors have long criticised the decline of arts education in state schools in the UK, with theatres warning that schools can no longer afford trips to shows for their pupils and that drama teaching is being cut back.