The community engagement programme at Norwich Theatre Royal is set to get a major boost thanks to a number of kind donors whose generosity has literally taken centre-stage.
The theatre hosted its very first dining-and-donating fundraising event on the stage itself where specially invited guests enjoyed cuisine prepared by one of Norfolk’s top chefs alongside a wide selection of entertainment.
The dinner raised a total of £45,000 through ticket sales, a charity auction and donations. This will be topped up by further money from the Arts Council Catalyst fund which supports first-time giving to the arts through matched donations, and will bring the total amount raised to £70,000.
This money will support the on-going programme of work in Stage Two with a specific focus on a new programme with young people who have special educational needs and disabilities. The evening also saw the launch of the Theatre Mavericks scheme. Many guests signed up to the scheme which will help to bring innovative productions and new work to the region, with discussions already under way to bring some exciting international dance and orchestral work to this area.
The theatre’s chief executive Stephen Crocker said: “We have ambitious and exciting plans to grow and expand our learning and participation work in the months and years ahead, and the incredible generosity of our guests helps tremendously in ensuring we can connect with and support our communities even more.”
“We are thrilled by the amount of money which was raised through our Dinner In Four Acts. People were so generous during the course of the evening digging very deep to support our outreach work.
“Our guests also loved the opportunity to spend time on stage seeing the same view as those famous names that have performed here over the generations as well as gain an insight into the range of skills and specialities that help bring a production to the stage.
“To keep the theatrical theme going, I am delighted with the five-star reviews we have already had from them.”
Conceived and co-hosted by Mr Crocker and Julia Goff, guests were given a tour of the backstage area before being ushered under the spotlights to enjoy a four-course gourmet dinner prepared by renowned Norfolk chef and Theatre Royal trustee Chris Coubrough and his team from Flying Kiwi Inns.
In between each course, there was also entertainment which included some stunning aerial circus displays, at-table comedy from the theatre’s popular pantomime double act Richard Gauntlett and Ben Langley (above) and some stunning stage-settings which transported the guests to the likes of star-studded Broadway and uber-sophisticated Paris.
For the finale of the event which was supported by Baker Rhodes and Adnams, each guest also had the chance to be part of an exclusive curtain call taking a bow to help acknowledge their support.
The donations will help expand and develop the work already being done by the theatre’s learning and participation department.
The department’s Stage Two building is currently hosting its very first Creative Matters season which allows people of all ages to consider creatively a range of different issues in a safe space beginning with a September focus on gender and sexual identity.
In addition, a wide range of classes and activities continue there including acting courses for children and adults, sessions for the over-50s focusing on dance and drama, dance workshops linked to touring productions, and exam and audition technique training to help those entering the acting world.
It is also the home of the theatre’s learning and participation team which also helps run a number of schemes including its highly successful Youth Theatre Company and the Norfolk Schools Project which works with schools helping them create an operatic performance from scratch.