Yvonne Arnaud Theatre Impact 2023

Posted by

Frankie Gale

Posted by

Frankie Gale

‘What a deeply moving, powerful and important piece of theatre. When a play brings tears of sadness and anger, alongside tears of happiness and awe, you know it has an important message to share.’ Audience member, The Beekeeper of Aleppo

The theatre had a very positive year for attendance, as they rebuilt audiences post-covid. Over 17,000 (17%) more people attended a performance in 2023/4 than in the previous year. Over 1,200 more young people (under 25’s and students) came to the Yvonne Arnaud in 2023/4 than in the previous year and over 200 more people in receipt of benefits took advantage of our concessions.

‘Fab to get a mailshot from your local theatre and be in it!’ Paul Karensa, Guildford-based performer & writer. Over 4,000 people attended one of the 79 events in the Mill studio, this is 1,000 more people than in 2022/23. The Mill is home to the theatre's Creative Learning activity, with 26 workshops in 2023/24. The programme gives space to young, emerging and local companies.

‘Both children are on ‘free school meals’. Their parents are unable to afford any ‘extra’s’ so these children would not normally be able to take part in the opportunities the theatre offers. We are so grateful for the bursaries the theatre offers.’ SENCO, Northmead Primary School

Creative learning provision almost doubled, with the number of sessions delivered increasing from 114 to 208. The number of participants increased to 3669, reflecting Yvonne Arnaud's focus on the depth of engagement and one-to-one support. 48 students from two schools, achieved their Bronze Arts Award. The number of funded workshop bursary places taken up increased to 43 young people.

‘The children have become more confident in their speaking and listening skills. .... they can perform in front of a group, share their ideas and follow simple instructions. They have challenged themselves to have a go at unfamiliar activities in new venues with new adults. It has been wonderful to see and hear the children’s enthusiasm for visiting the theatre and talking about wanting to see more shows in future.’ Teacher, Gosden House School.

16 taster workshops were delivered in one day to 62 students from three local schools in Creative Careers Day. 50 students took part in work experience opportunities.

'The project allowed students to engage with senior creatives and professional practitioners, thereby underlining the significance of their work. As a result, many students who had not previously visited the theatre felt a sense of worth and inclusion.’ Lead Evaluator, Surrey Arts, Better Lives Through Culture Report 2023

The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre's community engagement programme increased by almost 2,000 in 2023, reaching 10,423 people. Funded tickets increased from 337 to 482 and the groups reached increased to include more adults and those from Ash and Stoke wards. 23% more new groups met in the café including a Spanish language group and a Diabetes UK coffee morning group. Over 200 people enjoyed talks and tours of the Main House and Mill Studio for Heritage Open Day

The Yvonne Arnaud continue to grow their partnerships, delivering arts leadership projects for young people with support from Surrey Arts and Culture Box Surrey; bringing fun pantomime themed engagement to The Hive community centre, and welcoming 207 local families and young carers to the theatre for pantomime, in partnership with SurreyAction for Carers Guildford Action for Families, Surrey Children’s Services, The Hive and Guildford YMCA. 275 more tickets were donated to their partner groups to enjoy other shows during the year.

‘Just wanted to say a huge thank you for offering Action for Carers tickets to various shows. I have come to a few with my eldest (17) and has given us the opportunity to get out and spend time together. Since doing drama for GCSE they have developed a love for the theatre, which is great. It has really meant a lot to them that they are getting the tickets for free because they are a carer and people understand that it does impact their/our lives a lot. They are older than their disabled sibling so is more like a parent to them, so these unexpected trips out mean such a lot this week especially as last week was a little tough. Thank you again it does mean so much to us.’

Yvonne Arnaud supported Surrey County Council's HAF (Holiday Activity and Food) programme which works with disadvantaged families, providing discounted pantomime tickets and food for children participating in the scheme.

The Arnaud's leadership of, and input into, local, regional and industry initiatives has grown significantly (+250%) since 2022/23. This is a clear illustration of their commitment to underserved communities/culture/town/county: their position in their industry; their understanding of and willingness to drive and support initiatives, culturally and within our industry. The importance of the arts to wellbeing and social cohesion.
In 2023 they initiated the Surrey Drama Teachers Network, supported by Surrey Arts and Culture Box Surrey, for local secondary school drama teachers, providing termly opportunities to come together both in person and online to share teaching experience, examples of best practice and develop their own practical drama skills.
The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre are active in Experience Guildford and the Town Centre Business Forum, contributing to town centre initiatives and partnering with other local businesses and charities to create a safe and welcoming environment where everyone can thrive. The theatre is registered as a Breast-Feeding space, quiet place and is part of the Be Kind project to encourage respect to staff in all businesses. Research shows that their audience members contribute at least £1.5m to the local economy.

100 plus volunteers support the theatre. They are the people you meet when you come to a show, the smiley faces at Pop Up Play, the knowledgeable tour guides at Heritage Open Day and the expert gardeners who make our riverside garden a beautiful place to enjoy a coffee. Their Trustees are also volunteers, giving their time and skills to support the business and they deliver great theatre for everyone and plan for the future of our amazing theatre.

The Yvonne Arnaud Theatre are looking forward to an even bigger and brighter 2024/25!