Each month, we’re highlighting a local charity working in a range of ways to make our communities better. This month we talked to the Lyric Hammersmith which provide disadvantaged children access to the arts and enable them to gain new skills. Find out more about their work:
Tell us about the charity.
The Lyric Hammersmith has a long-established reputation not just for the strength and quality of its theatre productions but also for the work it does with local young people, many of them from disadvantaged backgrounds and facing challenges such as bullying, gang crime, drug and substance misuse and physical and sexual abuse from the adults in their lives. Our wide range of creative projects enable them to gain new interests, skills and friends and have helped many young people facing such challenges to turn their lives around. For example, we run a very successful project called START which supports young people who are not in education, employment or training to re-engage with society. It consistently achieves great results, with over 80 percent of participants going on to, and staying in, employment or education. Furthermore, we are constantly striving to provide greater access to our ongoing workshops for young people, such as performance and film projects, and always make bursaries available so all young people, regardless of family income, are able to participate.
As part of our commitment to our work with young people, we’re currently in the process of completing a massive redevelopment project. Our existing building will have its first major facelift in over 30 years, and in April 2015 we will open a new two-storey extension to the west of the building, the Reuben Foundation Wing. Our new addition will offer state-of-the-art facilities for our comprehensive programmes with and for young people. It will provide thousands of young people in London the chance to use our brand new dance and drama studios, recording and editing suites, cinema, digital ‘play space’ and much more.
What are your funding sources?
We fund our work in many different ways, including public subsidy, ticket sales, donations and sponsorship from trusts, businesses and individual donors. We couldn’t do it without this support and every donation really does matter.
What obstacles does your organisation face?
As with most charities, ensuring that we are able to fund and provide all our programmes of activity is always a challenge, particularly with our commitment to economic accessibility.
Making sure the residents of our local community as well as London as a whole are up to date with everything that the Lyric does also provides its own challenges. For example, we always offer free tickets to people who live and work in Hammersmith to our Main House productions through our Free First Night ticket scheme. We provide free creative projects for young people not in education, employment or training, such as the START programme mentioned above—a six-week intensive programme where these young people work with professional creative youth workers and gain literacy training and nationally recognised Arts Award accreditation.
We also offer free workshops and training opportunities to young people hoping to work in the creative industries; we’re a partner in the London Theatre Consortium’s apprentice scheme, and we offer talks and workshops for young writers, directors and producers, and performance opportunities for emerging artists. Furthermore, when the Reuben Foundation Wing opens in spring 2015, we’ll have a new two-storey addition completely devoted to our work with young people and new drama, dance, film and music spaces to offer our courses and classes for young people from across west London.
We know that we have an incredibly strong audience base in Hammersmith but we’re hoping in the year to come, as we open our new building, we’ll make many more people aware of the incredible work that goes on at the Lyric.
Do you hold events throughout the year?
We hold some smaller fundraising events throughout the year, from exclusive cinema screenings to dining experiences. Currently, however, the main fundraising event we’re working towards is our Grand Opening Gala in April 2015, which will be a star-studded event to celebrate our new building, and which we hope will be the biggest cultural celebration west London has ever seen.
How can people get involved?
There are lots of ways for people to get involved with the Lyric’s charity activities. We’re currently raising funds through our ‘Buy an Item’ campaign, where the public can go to our website and buy items for our new building—everything from a light switch to a sofa. In January we’ll also be relaunching our supporters’ scheme, Lyric Friends. If you would like to offer your time and expertise, we have a passionate and devoted Lyric Development Committee who meet regularly and help with all our fundraising activities. Alternatively, we’re always looking for volunteers to help with our many ongoing projects with young people. For more information on all of our fundraising activities, please contact our Head of Development, Lyndel Harrison, at Lyndel.email@example.com, and for more on all of Lyric Hammersmith’s work, visit our website at www.lyric.co.uk.