Fund arts for the child’s sake

Worried: Wendy Harris, who is producing Rapunzel at the Crucible Studio
Worried: Wendy Harris, who is producing Rapunzel at the Crucible Studio
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THE director of the Crucible Studio children’s show Rapunzel has spoken out about the importance of the arts for children.

Wendy Harris, who worked for the former organisation Sheffield Theatre in Education and was also an assistant producer at the Crucible in the 1990s, said: “I worry that the current government are trying to remove arts from the school curriculum. They should be embedded right the way through.

“Children are part of our society. The arts help develop empathy and create a civillised society. By children engaging in cultural activity they get to develop those social skills of empathy and caring and seeing the world with fresh eyes. It makes us a better world if we do that.”

She has worked extensively in children’s theatre and is in Sheffield with tutti frutti, a Leeds-based theatre company that has spent 21 years creating touring productions to go to theatres, rural areas and schools.

The company also works on creative projects with schools.

It aims to excite children’s imaginations through shows that look amazing and involve lots of movement but also explore issues in a fun way while telling a story.

Wendy said she worries that cuts in education budgets mean that schools don’t have the money to take children on theatre trips or get theatre groups to come into schools to work with pupils.

She pointed out that middle class children might not miss out so much as their parents will often take them to the theatre anyway, whereas for many working class families it might be a luxury they cannot afford.

She said: “What’s going to happen to those children if they’re not given access? We’re going to deprive a whole generation of that. I just don’t get it.

“There is a knock-on effect for lots of communication skills and other benefits that the arts bring to children if we don’t embed them in the curriculum.

“The arts are enriching their lives and enriching them as people. It’s a fundamental right for children and grown-ups and they need that in their lives.”

Rapunzel, which is aimed at children aged three and over, has been adapted from the Brothers Grimm fairytale.

Rapunzel is not a princess locked in a tower by a witch but a little girl whose over-protective Nan has put her in a tower to keep her safe. She still has her magical long hair. Instead of a prince coming to rescue her, she befriends a boy who walks past every day.

The company says the story is about “the curiosity and joys of growing up, risk taking and discovering who you are”.

The show is at the Crucible Studio until January 5.