Culture Voucher case study: Shortstown Primary and MK Theatre

On 9th May, Shortstown Primary organised for nine young people from Years 5 and 6 to visit our Cultural Provider MK Theatre to see a performance of Tom Gates Live on Stage. Based on the best-selling books by Liz Pichon, the performance follows the adventures of Tom, who is doing everything possible to stay out of trouble but somehow he’s got three sad faces on the school achievement chart, and getting another sad face means Mr Fullerman won’t let him go on the school trip.


Shortstown Primary Teacher Hannah Pereira explained how she had been looking for authentic and engaging cultural experiences to develop her pupils’ social and emotional needs, and also expose the children to as many opportunities as possible.

She felt that the opportunity to visit MK Theatre had a definite positive impact on the group –  “The performance was fantastic and the children were engaged throughout. However, the opportunity to have a backstage tour and for the children to meet the cast was phenomenal. A huge thank you to the production company.”

As well as the pupils enjoying the performance at MK Theatre, they were invited to take a backstage tour after the show. This provided them with the opportunity to see the workings of backstage in the theatre as well as asking the actors questions about their jobs. Hannah was pleased that the group were exposed to all of the opportunities possible in this trip.

“The children were very enthusiastic after the performance (before they even knew they were going backstage!) singing the songs from the show. They were then ecstatic to find out they were having the exciting opportunity to go back stage. They were fully engaged with the activity, watching the full performance without getting distracted by anything.”

We asked Hannah whether she experienced an ‘lightbulb moments’ for her or the pupils, and it was very interesting to hear her describe their change in behaviour during the experience:

“When they found out they were going backstage they were over the moon, however it was very interesting to see their change in demeanour when they were asked if they had any questions for the actors. These children put on a very confident front however, they did show their calmer, more vulnerable sides and it was interesting to see them having to interact with a stranger.”

Hannah goes on to explain that “getting to go backstage and have a meet and greet was never part of the plan when we booked the tickets so this was definitely unexpected –  exposing them to a lot more than we had intended.”

This is yet another example of how the value of cultural and creative activities extend far beyond the simple act of developing a new technique or skill in the art room. Exposure to new environments, meeting different people and experiencing activities which are often unfamiliar with can help to build confidence, nurture resilience and equip pupils with a raft of experiences they can draw on as they develop and grow.

Culture Vouchers were provided to Shortstown Primary for their teacher participation in the SLiCE Cultural Education Professional Support Group. The group invites teachers across Bedford Borough to join them for peer to peer professional development to support them out their Artsmark journey and to nurture links with the cultural sector, encouraging cultural engagement for their school. Culture Vouchers can be exchanged for workshops and activities delivered by any of our Cultural Providers listed on The Culture Challenge Directory