Here at The Marlowe Theatre, we don’t just put on great shows – we’re committed to working with our local community as well, whether that’s through our annual community production, our youth theatre or our schools programme. Our schools programme is funded by The Samuel Feldman NEC Fund. We spoke to its founder Riki Samuel, to find out why they decided to become involved.
Why did you decide to fund this work?
Both Sara and I were very blessed as children to have been given the opportunity to experience theatre in two wonderful, though very different environments. Sara was brought up in Budapest, and hugely benefited from the Communist regimes absolute commitment to the performing arts. Her love of theatre, opera and ballet are based on her youthful experiences.
I was brought up in Milngavie, but schooled in Glasgow, and was so fortunate to have been at a school that had a similar commitment to the arts. My own love of theatre, classical music and opera was inculcated by my parents, and thoroughly endorsed by many school trips to the Glasgow Citizens’ Theatre, and the then famed St Andrew’s Halls.
For both of us, we recognize the widened emotional and cultural horizons that these experiences created for us, and they live with us till today, and will forever.
We now live in a different world, where resources for school activities are limited, and the costs of attending theatre rising to be beyond the reach of those many who have to live on restricted budgets. This means that many children and young students may never have the opportunity of being touched by the magical world of theatre!
Sara and I, and indeed our sons who are also Trustees of our family charitable trust, are committed to inclusivity, and we feel that The Marlowe’s innovative approach to inclusion through its Schools’ Programme is something we have to support. Through it, many youngsters will now have the opportunity to be touched by, and become involved in theatre’s magic, rather than being denied this life changing experience.
What do you hope the effect of this programme will be?
We hoped to widen opportunities for children and young students to experience theatre. Part of our funding covers the ability to provide tickets free of charge to schools with children and families who find themselves in financially challenging circumstances. We are proud that hundreds of children have been able to take advantage of this.
Similarly, we are delighted to be able to support the innovative programme led by Andy Dawson, that engages schools and teachers as well as students, with the hoped for outcome of engagement that will prove to have a lasting effect. This is one of the effects that we most strongly desire, and it seems that this is being realized.
Being outcome-based in much of our thoughts, Sara and I gave a challenge to the programme leaders, to help us find a provable outcome that would let us all know that what we were doing was having the desired effect. As a result, we have sponsored bursaries for students that have been touched by the Schools Programme, and the most talented, and committed, of them have been granted bursaries to the youth theatre, and we are delighted to say that one of the first bursary holders has now secured a place at University in London to study Drama. What a validation of the approach; what a wonderful thing it is to have had a small part in enriching someone’s life. We also know that other bursary holders have similarly won places at university, and we revel in their success.
You ask what we hope the effect of this programme will be? Our answer is that we can all help more youngsters follow the steps already taken, and for them to continue to flourish.