Polka Theatre safeguarding children's futures

Safeguarding a creative future

Safeguarding a Creative Future

Families have long celebrated Polka Theatre, a unique space dedicated to children nestled on the Wimbledon Broadway, as a world-class producer of shows for young audiences. Their work however extends far beyond the stage. A non-profit charity, Polka invests every penny back into the community, safeguarding a creative future for children in Merton.

Charity Starts at Home

Polka is the force behind bringing favourites Charlie and Lola, Jacqueline Wilson’s Double Act and Julia Donaldson’s The Paper Dolls to the stage, and is celebrated for its pioneering new work for babies. These productions have brought joy to hundreds of thousands of families worldwide, jewels in the increasingly weighty Polka crown, but good news at the box office also means Polka are able to make a greater investment in what really drives them – building a creative community.      

Their new building, opening in spring of this year, promises to be a thriving community hub. With free access play areas, a destination cafe, and improved access facilities, it really has been designed with the whole community in mind. Their new studio space will be filled with creative activities for children, as part of their popular Take Part programme. These workshops and regular classes are for the very young and their carers, right through to pre-teen.

With subsidised fees and free spaces available, Polka are committed to keeping opportunities to get creative available to all children in the borough, regardless of background or circumstance.

Polka redevelopment frontage sketch (c) Foster Wilson Architects
Polka redevelopment frontage sketch (c) Foster Wilson Architects

Creative Community

This ethos extends to their extensive work in schools, delivered by their committed Creative Learning team. Freefalling is Polka’s flagship Youth Theatre for children experiencing challenging circumstances at school or home. This referral scheme sees local children nominated by teachers and care workers, and has a reputation for developing confidence and artistic excellence in its young members.

Their award-winning scheme Curtain Up! supports state schools with limited resources in creating enrichment opportunities for pupils. Most children benefitting from the scheme have never been to the theatre, large numbers of whom have refugee status. What’s unique about Curtain Up! is that it is offers a full creative experience. Participating schools receive tickets, travel subsidy, free workshops and resources to support continued learning in the classroom.

Now in its second year, literacy project Write Here Write Now supports local schools in raising language and communication skills, while encouraging children to express their experiences in their own stories. Polka also works directly with Special Educational Needs schools, prioritising the creation of a new sensory suite in their redevelopment plans to ensure that children with disabilities are able to make the most of their time at the theatre.

Opportunities to get involved are not limited to children. Polka strongly believe in the benefit of engaging younger members of the community with society at large, and run a number of initiatives connecting children with adults. Their Re:Sound intergenerational choir, now in its third year, has proven to be a big hit, connecting the elderly and isolated with local children and their carers.

Get Involved

Polka’s output and impact as a charity is considerable. For all their commercial success, ticket sales account for only a third of the income needed to keep these projects running. If you would like to support Polka’s work please do take a look at their website, there are lots of ways to show your support.

If you’d like to get involved, know a child who may benefit, or want to find out more about what the new building has to offer, just hop online or pick up the phone. Polka would love to hear from you.

020 8545 8320