Before I knew it, I was standing in what used to be Princess Diana’s dining room, hearing about the charity’s work in making the arts more accessible for children who don’t otherwise get the opportunity to experience it.
The Chief Executive of the Foundation was describing how their projects aim to create a ‘third space’ for children – somewhere that is neither home nor school, where children can discover and develop their creativity.
I started thinking about my own school days, and my first trip to the West End – to see Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Beautiful Game, of all things.
As we were marched past the huge white pillars of the Lyceum Theatre, where Disney’s The Lion King was playing (and still is, 12 years on...), I couldn’t help but wonder why we were going to see a musical about an Irish football team when we could be seeing the stage adaptation of one of the best films of all time.
Being miles from the classroom and from home, the dance studio became our ‘third space’, and I definitely saw a different side to my classmates that day.
The fear of embarrassment or humiliation that might have existed in a classroom setting, or at home, simply evaporated.
We became engrossed in the performance, discovering what we were capable of (and perhaps more importantly, what we weren’t).
Seeing the show afterwards (very moving, despite my initial reservations) put everything we’d just done into context, and made us appreciate the work that goes into a full-scale West End production.
Looking back, I realise that this experience had a big impact on my future decisions. I didn’t think so at the time, but when I look at my CV now, all my past jobs and experience are, in some way, related to the theatre.
It’s safe to say that we should never underestimate the long-term impact that the theatre, and the arts more widely, can have on a child.
Having said that, would I encourage my own children to work in the industry? If it’s money that they’re after, then possibly not. But then as the chart-topper and rumoured West End musical writer Jessie J so eloquently puts it:
It's not about the money, money, money
It ain’t about the (ha) Ka-Ching Ka-Ching.
Ain’t about the (yeah) Ba-Bling Ba-Bling
Wanna make the world dance,
Forget about the price tag.
I couldn’t have put it better myself.
Chloe Pritchard-Gordon, Publicist, The Corner Shop PR