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Pay It Forward – Helping families in need experience ‘the joy of theatre’


Our popular scheme to provide free tickets for families in need to experience “the joy of theatre” is returning this summer.

Under our Pay It Forward scheme, we are asking individuals and local businesses to sponsor tickets. Last Christmas 130 free tickets were distributed thanks to the scheme.

A £15 donation provides a free ticket for a child or adult to attend the production of Swallows & Amazons in the main house. The sponsored tickets will be distributed through four local charities – Refugee Action York (RAY), York Foodbank, Independent Domestic Abuse Services (IDAS) and SASH. This year the initiative has been kick-started by a donation from the Berwick Kaler Foundation.

Executive Director Tom Bird said: “We want more people to have opportunities to engage with us. We want to provide opportunities for more families to experience the joy of theatre, no matter what a person’s age, background or experience.”

Lois Gregory, Refugee Action York (RAY) – one of the charities which has received tickets in the past – said: “On behalf of Refugee Action York I wanted to say a really big thank you to you, the Theatre Royal and all the very kind donors on your Pay it Forward Scheme who enabled lots of our young service users and their families to attend performances. What a wonderful experience it was for the young children who came to see it, who sat on the edges of their seats completely enthralled and lost in the magic of the performance, enjoying every minute of it. The show was talked about long after the event itself; it brought such a lot of enjoyment to our families who might not otherwise ever have the opportunity to go to the theatre.”

Corrina Dobson, Independent Domestic Abuse Services (IDAS), said “From our refuge in York, we run a range of practical services to support the women and children who have fled domestic abuse. We find that, due to the isolation caused by domestic abuse, many of the families have never been on any day trips or holidays’ that most of us take for granted.  A trip to the theatre is something that not many of the women and children have ever had the opportunity to do, so this is an amazing experience for them. During their stay with us, we aim to enable the mums and children to have some of these experiences – often for the first time.”

Maxine Taylor, York Foodbank, said “The support from York Theatre Royal has been fantastic.  We recognise that everyone should have access to the arts, but unfortunately for families in crisis or on low income going to the theatre just isn’t an option.  It has been wonderful to offer tickets to families in such circumstances, to take some time away from the stresses of life to enjoy some entertainment with their children!  Thank you to all those who donated tickets, they are very much appreciated”.

Swallows and Amazons is playing in the Main House from 26 July to 24 August.