The spirit of dance
The Royal Opera House, Schools' Matinees Project
The Taylor Family Foundation has a long-term focus on improving access to the performing arts and as such in 2009 began providing funding for the Schools' Matinees at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, London. The project aims to reach primary and secondary school age young people across the UK to give them a first experience of opera and ballet, developing their understanding and enjoyment of the performing arts.
While all schools are eligible to apply for tickets, preference is given to schools with a higher percentage of students in receipt of free school meals, schools who have not attended a performance and those outside London with less access to iconic cultural venues.
Additional support for some schools is provided through funding travel costs and access to priority booking has seen particular uptake from North Devon, Teesside, Humberside and South Lincolnshire, allowing many to attend who would not otherwise have had the chance.
The project dedicates six full-length opera and ballet performances to schools every season. In the past year alone, over 11,500 young people from 198 schools and home educating groups attended performances – 62% were from outside central London. Since The Taylor Family Foundation began supporting the project £3m of funding has been provided, enabling over 80,000 young people to attend performances.
The project also provides information pack to schools ahead of their trip to help students’ understanding of the performance, as well as downloadable, classroom resources to support the projects learning aims when they have returned to school.
TOSCA Performance attendee:
“The children, especially the boys were so motivated and inspired by what they experienced and saw. Every child at every level was overwhelmed by the whole experience and could clearly discuss what they enjoyed about the difference between the two performances we saw. The debate afterwards was really revealing with one six-year-old saying she didn’t know you could learn about the good and bad things in life and relationships through dance!”
Penelope Hare, Church Langton Primary School, Mixed Bill Ballet performance
“I have never seen an opera before but I know that everyone in our class agrees with me when I say it was the school trip to end all school trips!”