Annual Report 2022

Page 1

Annual Report 2022 Charity No. 232488




performances of in-house productions


performances of visiting shows

31,074* visitors to in-person shows 17,066* of these were children 691 of these were PFA** 84 schools and nurseries 29% of family visitors were from Islington



Facebook followers Reach 116,872


17 digital puppetry shorts 1 digital series 3 craft videos 44 make at home activities 7 digital community projects 1 YouTube livestream 127 freelancers engaged for these digital projects


Twitter followers Reach 180,000


Instagram followers (+30% increase) Reach 85,546

362,464 WEBSITE

226K hits at

YouTube views with 14,943 subscribers 11,043 watch hours 1,984,497 reach*** 61 countries

* Figures include 205 tickets for babies under one at Smartest Giant and Nature Elly when COVID-19 restrictions required us to count people of all ages as part of our capacity. We did not count babies under one before or after this. ** PFA (Puppets for All) is our free tickets scheme which makes our shows accessible for everyone. *** The number of people who have engaged with our posts


WELCOME Emerging from the pandemic, we slowly transitioned from only working digitally to once again performing to live audiences, running projects in person with schools and community groups, as well as celebrating our 60th birthday! However, the last year has had its challenges, with COVID-19 impacting our staff, performers and audiences, alongside a difficult fundraising climate. Our artistic programme started with a live-digital show, Where the Bugaboo Lives, then, once permitted, we welcomed live audiences - being one of the first theatres in the UK to reopen. The Smartest Giant in Town, a co-production with Fierylight sold out (to socially distanced capacity), it will tour again in autumn, including our first West End run. We honoured pre-COVID-19 programming commitments with Nature Elly and The Storm Whale, exciting new work including There May Be a Castle and There’s a Rang Tan in my Bedroom & Other Stories and celebrated some of our classic revivals. Several shows in our programme were nominated in this year’s Offie awards for Young People. Alongside our work on stage, our digital program – Watch, Make and Share – has

continued to grow and thrive, reaching a considerable number of people across the globe. The programme has included work created by LAT, as well as 13 commissioned shorts by various artists/ companies. Equally our schools work has continued in our eight local partners schools, with after-school puppet clubs, show-related workshops, and free show tickets for all children in the schools. Our community programme also continued apace with lots of exciting partnerships with local organisations and nearby residents - we found innovative ways to engage during lockdown from delivering craft packs and to bringing shows to peoples’ front doors.

The team at Little Angel Theatre always impresses me with its resilience and ‘can-do’ attitude. This has shone through in its commitment to supporting young people over the past year. The organisation has used puppetry to engage with audiences, schools, community groups and emerging artists to deliver a diverse and inspiring range of shows and participation opportunities; in doing so, it has showcased the impact and versatility of this wonderful artform. One of the highlights of our work in 2021 was The Wishing Tree, written by Waterstones Children’s Laureate 2022, Joseph Coehlo, and co-created by local schools and the wider community. The

children involved were rightly proud to see their own pandemic stories reflected on stage. Thank you to them all for their hard work and commitment to making the project happen.

Samantha Lane Artistic Director

Peta Swindall Executive Director

Katie Owen Chair of the Board 3

Productions This year, our 60th anniversary, we were passionate about creating a programme that would be able to reach and engage with both our longstanding supporters and new audiences. For our first show in the season, we created an innovative zoom production Where the Bugaboo Lives (Offies nominated) – a choose your own adventure show for 5 to 11-yearolds. This was an attempt to merge both the live and digital experience - the puppeteers performed on LAT’s stage, but the audience watched via their homes in real time. We then marked the return to live theatre with brand new smash hit show, The Smartest Giant in Town, based on the book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler - a co-production with Fiery Light. The show completed a 10-week run in house, before going off on tour across the country. We continued to program new, exciting work, including Nature Elly (Offies nominated) – in association with Barmpot Theatre; There’s a Rang Tan in my Bedroom & Other Stories – an environmental production supported by Mother, Greenpeace and Meat Free Monday; The Wishing Tree, inspired by the hopes and wishes of local children, written by Joseph Coehlo and There May be a Castle – a brave, bold piece of theatre based on the book by Piers Torday.

We were also able to re-programme The Storm Whale – which had originally been planned for Christmas 2020, and bring back our much-loved classics The Bed - a show based on the poem by Sylvia Plath for babies and toddlers; Handa’s Surprise, based on the bestselling book by Eileen Browne and one of our longest running productions; and The Singing Mermaid, another much loved classic. It has been a huge achievement to be able to create so much new work alongside high-quality revivals.

9 in-house productions 658 performances 3 visiting productions with 8 performances 31,074*total visitors 12,997* at the theatre and 18,077* at the studios

61% of people visited

the theatre for the first time

* Figures include 205 tickets for babies under one at Smartest Giant and Nature Elly when COVID-19 restrictions required us to count people of all ages as part of our capacity. We did not count babies under one before or after this.


IN HOUSE Where The Bugaboo Lives 14 March–2 May 2021 / Age 5-11 / 7 week run / 39 shows / viewed by 340 households A Little Angel Theatre production. Based on the book by Sean Taylor. Little Angel’s first made-for-zoom, choose-your-own adventure style show. This show was nominated for an Offies Award.

Nature Elly 2–31 July 2021 / Age 2-5 / 4 weeks run / 49 shows / 71% capacity / 1,815 sold A Barmpot Theatre production, in association with Little Angel Theatre, commissioned by Lincolnshire One Venues and SO Festival. Elly and Bob the Phesant save the farm just in time for the new harvest. This show was nominated for an Offies Award.

The Smartest Giant in Town 29 May–15 August 2021 / Age 3-8 / 11 week run / 136 shows / 99% capacity / 4,905 sold A Fierylight & Little Angel Theatre co-production. A musical adaptation of the bestselling book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. A giant with a huge heart helps those in need.

The Wishing Tree 9–26 September 2021 / Age 5-11 / 2 week run / 30 shows / 77% capacity / 1,210 sold A Little Angel Theatre production. Written by Joseph Coelho. A touching tribute to the importance of friendship and helping those in need.


There’s a Rang-tan in my Bedroom & Other Stories 10 September–7 November 2021 / Age 5-11 / 8 week run / 84 shows / 81% capacity / 4,163 sold A Little Angel Theatre production. Supported by Mother, Greenpeace and Meat Free Monday. Written by James Sellick. Discover more about our animal friends and what we can do to help – because no one is too small to make a difference.

There May Be A Castle 13 November 2021–23 January 2022 / Age 7+ / 9 week run / 63 shows / 60% capacity / 2,407 sold A Little Angel Theatre production. Based on the book by Piers Torday. A remarkable story about love, loss and the power of the imagination.

8–31 October 2021 / Age 6m-3 / 3 week run / 51 shows / 103% capacity / 1,350 sold A Little Angel Theatre production. Based on the poem written by Sylvia Plath. A bedtime story like no other for our littlest theatre-goers.

The Storm Whale 19 November 2021–30 January 2022 Age 4-8 / 10 week run / 107 shows / 99% capacity / 7,132 sold Based on the books by Benji Davies. A Little Angel Theatre, York Theatre Royal, The Marlowe Theatre and Engine House co-production. Join Noi, his Dad and a whale in this beautiful tale of friendship.


The Storm Whale image by Northedge Photography; all other production images Ellie Kurttz

The Bed

Handa’s Surprise 9 February–16 April 2022 / Age 2-5 / 9 week run / 108 shows / 97% capacity / 4,274 sold Based on the bestselling book by Eileen Browne. A Little Angel Theatre production. Handa has seven delicious fruits but seven mischievous animals want a bite too.

The Singing Mermaid 25 February–24 April 2022 / Age 3-8 8 week run / 96 shows / 95% capacity 7,329 sold Based on the book by Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monk. A Little Angel Theatre production. The Singing Mermaid joins a Travelling Circus but she was tricked!

“Our visit to Little Angel Theatre was a treat for my daughter’s 3rd birthday, her first ever trip to the theatre. She was mesmerised and was asking to go again all the way home. Well done on a brilliant production and thank you for making a little girl very happy!” Audience feedback from The Smartest Giant in Town

“Beautiful performance! We had a long conversation after the show about things that we can and can’t change and the importance of having a positive outlook on life even in a situation that is beyond our control.” Audience feedback from There May Be A Castle






UK tour: May – June 2021 Lanark Age group: 5–11 5 week tour 16 performances Attendance: 1,921 (16 schools)


UK tour: 14 March–2 May 2021 Age group: 5 –11 7 week tour 60 performances Attendance: 340 household views + 15 schools

UK tour: 10–20 February 2022 Age group: 3 –8 2 week tour 18 performances Attendance: 4,362

Berwick upon Tweed

Newcastle-upon-Tyne Sunderland Durham

THE SMARTEST GIANT IN TOWN UK tour: 9 February– 8 May 2021 Age group: 2–8 12 week tour 97 performances Attendance: 28,887*


UK tour: 14–27 December 2021 Age group: 4 –11 2 week tour 25 performances Attendance: 1,958*

Rossendale Bury Manchester – multiple venues




Nottingham Norwich

Uppingham Burton on Trent Lichfield


Birmingham Cambridge Llandrindod Wells



Carmarthen Milford Haven Bristol Bath

London – multiple venues


Woking Winchester * Figures in red indicate shows impacted by COVID-19




In loving memory of Marleen Vermeulen (1964–2022)

Touring for over 18 years! The extraordinary journey of a long running show which recently toured across the UK between April and July 2022. Handa’s Surprise is based on the book by Eileen Browne. It is a modern, simple story set in Kenya about friendship, sharing, kindness and generosity. It creates a perfect direct learning experience about fruits and animals for young children forming the primary audience. Planning for Handa’s Surprise began during the Summer of 2003, originally intending to be performed in small and intimate spaces – doctors surgeries, play groups, community groups and nursery settings. However, given the genuine need for high quality, culturally-diverse work for early years audiences, it was decided that the show should also be played in-house. In April 2004 Marleen Vermeulen, who had a very broad experience of directing shows for young children, adapted the book through a three week devising process using two actor/puppeteers. Beautifully crafted rod and table top puppets were designed by veteran puppet maker Peter O’Rourke with set and costume designed by Sophia Lovell Smith. Her intimate in-the-round set created an environment where the children could feel safe, and very much a part of the surroundings along with the gentle interactive element.

The theatre has kept the ‘look out it’s behind you’ fun of the book and magically transported its sunny Kenyan setting to the heart of London, enriching it with music, dance, clever puppeteering and interaction with the young audience ... I hope the audiences will feel that they have travelled to another place. Eileen Browne, Author of Handa’s Surprise


Handa’s Surprise also formed part of an Arts Council Strategic Touring Project whose mission was to make theatre accessible and affordable to children in areas of low arts engagement. Many of these children had never seen live theatre before. It has also toured internationally to China, Czech Republic, New York, Qatar and Spain.

We dedicate this page to Marleen who died peacefully in St Christopher’s Hospice on 4th July after 6 years living with cancer. She was a huge part of Little Angel Theatre for over 20 years, working initially as a workshop leader on school’s residency programme Puppet Power and then later directing numerous productions including Handa’s Surprise, Handa’s Hen, We’re Going on a Lion Hunt, The Very Thirsty Giraffe and Rosie Get’s The Plot. We loved her vibrant energy and enthusiasm and have many memories to cherish. Our deepest condolences go to her family, friends and colleagues. In February, Marleen brought back Handa’s Surprise to Little Angel, working on the show for its in-house run and subsequent national tour. She delivered with style, sensitivity, vigour and her signature cheeky smile, despite the pain and discomfort she was experiencing due to her illness. Marleen said we were her favourite theatre in London. The feeling was mutual. She will be hugely missed. Rest in peace Marleen.

Since 2004, Handa’s Surprise has... Toured to over festivals

600 venues/

900 schools Delivered over 5,000

Visited over

performances and


Welcomed over audience members


ON SCREEN This year we continued to build and develop our Watch, Make, Share programme, releasing regular and varied content for families to enjoy at home. This included our People Behind the Puppets series where we interviewed creatives in the industry about their experiences and why they work with puppets, and 17 digital shorts exploring many different themes and ideas. In our community work, we collaborated with charities such as Chance UK, Solace Women’s Aid and Age UK to take part in puppet workshops and a digital project. Additionally, we worked with organisations like Head Held High to empower young people to explore who they are and this resulted in a recorded performance at Little Angel Theatre. We also continued to work with Smoking Apples on our Spectrum Youth Theatre (a puppet youth theatre for young people with Asperger’s or autism) to explore storytelling and filmmaking which then resulted in live screenings of their work. As part of their Holiday Activity Fund, Islington Council also sent children eligible for free school meals details of our digital programme to enjoy whilst at home during the holidays. In total, we released 61 videos and 44 craft activities. During this year we were generously supported by the Weston Culture Fund, allowing us to engage 127 freelancers, across a programme of commissioned digital shorts. As we look ahead to next year, we have a number of exciting digital projects in the pipeline including the release of series Bertie and Little Bell.

362,464 views 61 videos viewers from 61 countries,

our top 3 being UK, USA, India


new subscribers taking us to a total of

14.9K subscribers 11,043 hours of watch time


accompanying craft activities

1 digital series 3 craft videos 44 total make activities 7 community digital projects 1 YouTube livestream 17 digital puppetry shorts 127 freelancers engaged across the digital programme

Photos and illustrations by: Jessica Shead and Ruby Saide, Tiny Light, Chloe Stephens and Matt Hutchinson, Shadowboxer Theatre, Head Held High, Little Angel Theatre, Oliver Hymans, Bronia Evers, One Moment in Time Storytelling, Metta Theatre, Michael Fowkes, Paper Balloon Theatre and House of Funny Noises.



IF NOT HERE... WHERE? In January we filmed our existing children’s hospital bedside show If Not Here, Where?. The show was devised in partnership with the young people’s forum at GOSH to provide young people in long-term care with a high quality non-clinical theatre experience to combat feelings of isolation and loneliness and raise morale. Due to COVID-19 it became apparent that we wouldn’t be able to tour the show in person so we filmed the show and created a digital version to tour to hospitals/hospices in a COVID-secure way to continue to reach children isolated in hospital. Our tech partners co-ordinated the development of the app so that the footage housed within it formed a digital ‘chooseyour-own-adventure’ style story. This meant that the film was incorporated fully into the app so that the viewer could watch the film, choose their pathway through the story and access the augmented reality aspect all through the app. The technology to make this work across multiple iPads would have cost thousands of pounds, so we decided


to travel with the tablet as this was the most cost efficient way of delivering this project. This experience was delivered to 15 care locations, primarily hospitals and a hospice care home, across London, including our partner hospital Great Ormond Street and around the UK – to Liverpool, York and Edinburgh – in Summer 2021. At a time when COVID-19 restrictions across the country were lifting, those within a medical care setting still remained extremely strict. Hospital play and arts workers had struggled to provide alternative engagement activities as outside practitioners were still not allowed onto wards.

“Watching this and interacting allows them to forget why they are in hospital and escape.” “This offered a distraction from hospital life for the children in a fun and interactive manner.”


Creative Learning Over the past couple of years we have all been starved of live artistic opportunities as both audience members and participants/creators of art. This year has seen the return of in person experiences within our Creative Learning programme and the chance for families, school communities, neighbours and artists to come together and enjoy the experience of being creative as part of a shared experience again. Working closely with eight local partner schools we ensure continuous engagement with many children and families who may not have access to our work otherwise. Schools benefit from tickets to our productions as well as puppetry workshops for their pupils and support for teachers to enhance the delivery of their curriculum more creatively. We also deliver workshops in schools across London and beyond, ranging from one day puppet making workshops to more bespoke delivery and longer projects, allowing pupils to learn skills in puppet making and explore storytelling and performing with the puppets they have made. We have invested more heavily in our inhouse programme of workshops, working with the content of our performances to bring companion workshops for families. We have also gone back to running our residential one-day fun days in person. Our Youth Theatre for young people on the autistic spectrum continued online throughout the pandemic and we were 16

able to deliver a hybrid model once in person sessions re-started, to allow those who couldn’t attend in person to continue to engage. Our adult learning saw more than 200 participants over the course of the year, which is another way for us to spread our love of puppetry to our communities. We’ve proudly maintained our links with Guildhall School and returned to delivering our module with them in person this year. We continue to commit to Creative education as part of our key model and hope that we can increase our participation further in the coming year.

1000+ participants attended

128 activities delivered 91 activities for parents

with children

19 adult courses delivered 2 puppetry interns


This year we have been excited to return to onsite family activities. It has been a great period for trialling and reworking our previous offer, relaunching our family workshops and our Fun Days. We had 445 participants across 44 activities with our children’s and family workshops. Most notably our hugely successful Glowing Winter Lights Christmas craft workshops which ran at effectively full capacity for the 24 workshops. We also had 56 parents with their children engage across 2 terms of our relaunched babies and toddlers classes Angel Sings.

Spectrum Youth Theatre Our Youth Theatre for young people on the autistic spectrum in collaboration with Smoking Apples ran continuously online during the pandemic. The summer 2021 term was the final online version of the group before returning to in-person sessions in September. The new online format of making a puppetry film over eight weeks had been extremely successful so this format was transferred into the in-person sessions. This also enabled us to combine film clips from some participants who were still only able to work remotely into the final film. Participants have worked together to create three wonderful puppetry films, inspired by their own lives, thoughts, hopes, dreams and imaginations. The films were premiered at special events with friends and family invited, and then shared more widely online. Highlights included Lift Your Spirits a film made to help celebrate the theatre’s 60th birthday and featuring a puppet version of our own theatre cat! Participants were able to learn new skills, create stories and

characters of their own, as well as being given the opportunity to work as part of a team and make new friends.

Other activities We delivered 26 external workshops a highlight of which was re-establishing a formal relationship with the shopping centre Angel Central, who have agreed to work with us on a yearlong program of work in their space. We worked closely with Islington Council’s Bright Start scheme, which delivered 12 babies and toddlers’ classes for free in the Mildmay Community Centre.

Blue Peter In July 2021, Ellie Mills, our in-house designer had the opportunity to present on Blue Peter. During the pandemic, Little Angel Theatre launched our Watch, Make, Share platform in which we created videos that people could watch at home, make a craft with us and then share their makes with us on social media. In a time of darkness, this offered the joy that people needed to make the most of their time in lockdown and Blue Peter wanted to recognise this by inviting us to make our very own Blue Peter puppet theatre.

Source: Blue Peter

Activities for families and children


SCHOOLS Over 40% of primary aged children in Islington live in an income deprived household, the third highest rate in London. Around 8,500 children in the borough are eligible for free school meals. We work closely with eight of our most local primary schools and more widely throughout the borough, London, and the country to ensure schools can access our work. For some children access to the arts is only available this way, and we aim to work closely with schools to ensure our work is accessible to all.

School visits and engagement 2021/2022 has been a year of navigation as we gradually get back to pre-pandemic ways of working. Ensuring access and engagement with schools has been a focus for us at Little Angel Theatre and we are delighted to see what the next year brings for us and to continue welcoming schools at both our theatre and our studios.

5,635 school children saw shows at our venues


pupils participated in schools workshops


hours spent delivering workshops in schools

114 workshops delivered 51 classes 8 partner schools

School Partnership Programme 8 partner schools / 1,883 pupil visits Our eight partner schools all have a much higher than the national average of pupils who receive free school meals, have special educational needs, or have English as an additional language. Through our engagement with these schools we are ensuring all of the children who attend are given opportunities they may not experience otherwise. This year has seen a gradual return to more live and in person experiences, but we have continued to offer as much as possible online when restrictions or circumstances have thrown up barriers. Our Partnership Programme guarantees pupils at least one theatre visit per year, plus additional opportunities like after school clubs, workshops and projects in the classroom, shows visiting school and staff professional development opportunities.


After School Puppet Clubs 8 partner schools / 128 pupils participated We will have run puppet clubs in all 8 of our partner schools by the end of the 20212022 academic year. Participants work closely with us for 9 weeks to make their own puppet and create a performance. We worked in Winton, St John the Evangelist and New North Academy in the autumn term. The sessions had an environmental theme inspired by our production of There’s Rang Tang in my Bedroom & Other Stories. 10 families of club members came to see the show using the free tickets they were offered. Pupils presented sharing performances to families during the final session of their term in December. In the spring term we worked in William Tyndale, Sacred Heart and Hugh Myddelton schools. William Tyndale and Hugh Myddelton chose to run their sessions within the school day, and Sacred Heart and William Tyndale specifically selected children who would benefit most from the experience to take part. All 8 groups have been filled to capacity this year meaning that we will have worked closely with 128 pupils by the end of the school year.

There May be a Castle Workshops

10 workshops / 5 partner schools / 300 pupils participated During January and early February we ran 10 workshops across 5 of our Partner Schools, giving 300 children the opportunity to explore some of the worrying situations and emotions the lead character faced in the story and make their own puppet. The workshop was delivered by Judith Hope, the artist who designed and made the puppets in the show and involved pupils making their own ‘Nonky’ character puppet and using this experience to explore worries and fears and think about the activities, friends, family and people in their lives who can support them or help take their worries away – mirroring ‘Mouse’s’ experiences in the story.

“They enjoyed the show. Their reactions during the performance; engagement in the Q&A session; their enthusiasm when talking about it on the way back to school and during lunchtime made that evident.” The pupils were given the opportunity to think about and discuss who and what in their lives helps to support them when they are feeling sad or worried and celebrate that in how they decorated their puppet. This positive element was the main focus of the workshop, making sure the pupils took time to reflect on the support that was available.

60 for 60 69 classes received free tickets / 2,200 children visited our theatre for free This year as we celebrated our 60th anniversary we wanted to welcome children from across the borough to enjoy a show with us. We distributed tickets to our partner schools and we worked with Islington Council to support their 11 by 11 programme which is a commitment to offer 11 free outstanding cultural experiences to all children and young people in Islington by Year 11. Working with the council we were able to target schools that hadn’t been before or who have access to less cultural opportunities. So far we have distributed tickets to 69 classes and welcomed over 2,200 children to see a show for free. We will continue to run the programme as due to COVID-19 some performances were cancelled.


ADULTS It was a more difficult year for adult learning, negotiating emerging from the pandemic and reintroducing the in-person courses. This year we took a blended approach with a focus on short online courses and in person 10-week courses. 202 participants / 7 countries / 16 bursary places offered

Foundation and Intermediate Courses Oliver Hymans has continued to deliver our fantastic termly courses. We had 57 participants in our Foundation courses (31 in person and 26 online), and 37 people engaged in our intermediate courses (14 intermediates in person course and 23 online ensemble). We lost our captive audience created by lockdowns but maintained participant numbers through our digital course programme.

Online short courses Our online short courses performed well with 108 participants across 9 courses, featuring storytelling courses with Danyah Miller, puppet making with Alison Alexander and Toby Olié and a found object with live music course delivered by Laura Cubitt.

Puppet Hires We had 22 different groups hiring our studios space. We worked closely with the Almeida, hiring out our studios in the evening for them to rehearse their Key Worker’s Cycle project. Our Theatre had 6 larger hires, in addition, we established a regular weekly Saturday evening hire, for a musical church group. We hired out 6 puppets for a variety of different educational and performance projects. 20

Guildhall Community Suitcase Project Our work with the Guildhall School continues and we’ve agreed to run the project again next year. The 10 Guildhall Masters students developed the brilliant Georgie and Gadget, which toured to some of our partner schools and into local community venues. This project was expertly supported by Emma Tompkins, Oliver Smart and Louise Wilcox.

Interns In December 2020 we took on two ethnically diverse Puppetry Interns who had no or limited experience in puppetry. Puppetry isn’t a diverse art form and we are passionate about changing this through funded opportunities. The placement was originally for 6 months but we quickly realised that the interns would get far more from the opportunity if we were able to extend it to a full year. We sourced funding to allow us to do this and offer them a breadth of experience, plus employment stability in these turbulent economic times. Over the course of the year, the interns had the opportunity to design and make puppets and sets for both live and digital LAT shows. We were also able to commission them to create their own digital short giving them a budget to manage and to learn the skills of collaborative working. They also supported the delivery of our community engagement and education programme by assisting on the delivery of workshops in community and school settings. This will give them increased employability skills in the future. The programme was a huge success and we are planning to recruit two new interns to join us for 12 months from October.

“The puppetry internship with LAT has had a huge impact on me…I have learned so much more about theatre, and creating a production – especially having had the opportunity to create my own digital short. I have learnt so much about myself; like how I collaborate with others, what I favour making and how I structure my schedule. The yearlong internship has enabled me to further other skills such as facilitation, performance training/ experience and assisting the upkeep of a theatre. I leave with a more confident and positive perspective for a career in puppetry given my experience and connections I have made and feel supported by the theatre in my future creative endeavours.”

“Overall the internship has given me insight into the world of working in theatre, design, facilitation and freelance work. It has challenged me to improve my making skills and think specifically about what I enjoy working on and contributing towards. It has given me more confidence in approaching tight deadlines and working a busy schedule. Before the internship, I had little to no knowledge of how theatres/ art charities operated and I now feel like I have a good understanding.”


Community Islington is one of the most unequal places in the UK. It has the 4th highest rate of children living in poverty, after housing costs, in the country. Our Community Engagement Programme exists to ensure Little Angel Theatre is accessible to everyone, from our most local residents to those who wouldn’t otherwise be able to visit us, due to social, economic or health barriers. All our community programmes are offered for free, which is made possible by generous funding and support from trusts, foundations and some wonderful individuals. We run activities for all ages, including local residents who may face isolation or who want an opportunity to meet their neighbours and learn a new creative skill at the same time. Our programme of work for local residents is very much led by them, and themes for workshops or specific activities we deliver are often suggested by the participants themselves. Our weekly Crafternoon sessions for local families is extremely popular and parents appreciate the quality time they get to spend with their children doing something new and exciting, as well as meeting other families who live nearby, extending both their social and support network.

Spreading more widely we also deliver activities and offer free tickets to families across the borough who face barriers accessing our work via our Puppets For All scheme and through partnership projects with other local organisations including food banks, charities supporting women who face domestic abuse and Islington Councils Children in Need team. Our aim is to make our work as accessible and inclusive as possible so that everyone in the local and wider community can engage with us and enjoy the benefits of arts engagement with friends and family.


opportunities for engagement with the Community Programme across 2021–2022

14 organisations partnered



new community members joined our programmes as a result of our partner organisations work


REGULAR ACTIVITIES Over the last 6 months there have been 164 opportunities for engagement for local children and families over 5 sessions.


261 opportunities for engagement for local children and families over 18 sessions Our weekly after school arts and crafts club is now back in person after some innovative online sessions. These are a firm favourite with local residents with many families coming every week. These drop-in sessions aim to be both fun and educationally stimulating, whilst providing a safe space for parents and children to make new friends from within their community. It is also an opportunity for children to create alongside their parents in an enjoyable session.

“It’s fantastic to spend time with the kids away from home and being creative. I don’t usually get the opportunity to do so as my flat is very cramped.” “Fantastic fun, great quality time with my daughter” “She really comes alive here”

Free Family Fundays Once a month we open the Studio doors to Islington families who join us to make a craft, have their faces painted, listen to stories and get to know their neighbours. It’s a chance for children to make friends, to enjoy a creative activity outside of school and to spend time with parents in a free and engaging event.

Animation Club This brand-new weekly activity for children accessing free school meals saw 12 children between 9 and 13 learn how to create their own animated film. The aim of the course was to engage children in a fun and creative activity over 10-weeks that focused on developing creative, technological and social skills through the art of animation. They worked together to create a fantastic film all about the transition to secondary school, with primary and secondary pupils working together to share worries and find solutions.

“It is really nice for him to have found something to engage him and … I really appreciated that you had experience with ADHD and can see the positives as often people focus on the bad side.”


Arts and Chat

32 opportunities for engagement over the last 6 months. Our monthly evening adult art class where community members can join a local Islington artist to learn their art form, enjoy a snack and chat. They are an opportunity to bring the community together and tackle the isolation that many in our community are feeling post-COVID, as well as helping individuals to build their confidence as they try something new. Over the last 6 months, we’ve held a variety of sessions each one covering a new craft including; felting, mosaic making, jewellery making and knitting amongst other things. The topic for each month’s class is chosen by the residents and what they would like to do.

“Community spirit. Helps me to relax for a few hours each week with a busy life and child, keeps mental health issues at bay, reduces stress and anxiety.”

Show stoppers

We’ve run 6 show stoppers and have given away 166 free tickets to these events. Through our Puppets For All scheme we offer free tickets to residents who wouldn’t otherwise be able to join us. We have now introduced a new project called Show Stoppers, which includes a free workshop after the performance. This is an opportunity for families to further explore the production and enhance their experience at LAT.

“Thank you so so so much for the puppets for all scheme, without it we wouldn’t be able to see any of the shows so we’re eternally grateful for this scheme.”

Puppets For All All our full-price tickets are subsidised, however, despite our efforts to keep prices down, we appreciate that the cost of our tickets is still a barrier to some. We feel passionately that theatre should be accessible to everyone, so we offer free tickets through our Puppets-for-All scheme. The scheme is available to anyone who receives state benefits and otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford to come. Last year we gave away 691 free tickets.



LAT Birthday Party We invited local families to take part in our 60th anniversary celebrations, this included enjoying a free show at the Little Angel Theatre. They all received a book and craft pack. The party was attended by 37 children and their parents/carers. There were refreshments for those attending and the event had a party feel as the building was decorated.

Ellie Kurttz

50 local residents attended. This was a chance for the local residents of Sebbon Street to take part in a safe, small Christmas event before the community programme closes for Christmas.

LAT Community Festival A free community day of celebration with puppet shows, games and craft activities. This normally takes place in September but we weren’t able to get the permissions needed to use the park due to COVID-19 so the event was held in March and became a Play Day. Approximately 150 people from the local community attended the day. The event was on the street and highly visible which meant that the children could see the activities from their windows and come out to play.

Ellie Kurttz

LAT Community Christmas Party


PARTNER EVENTS We aim to work with local organisations offering unique opportunities for the young people they work with to engage with our work. Here is a summary of the activity that has happened in the last 6 months:

The Arc Little Wings Drama Club A free drama and puppetry programme run in partnership with the Arc Foodbank. Weekly drama classes are open to children whose families access the foodbank and families on the Sebbon Street estates. It is aimed at children aged 4-8 years old. The programme has gone from strength to strength, we now have 10 children signed up (from 2 when in September last year). Their Winter sharing on the theme of ‘self’ was a really beautiful moment where all the children worked together on a puppet performance. We hope to find funding to continue the running of the programme in the autumn.

Bridging Hotel in partnership with Islington Council We were approached by the Council to run some fun, interactive sessions to engage refugee children and families staying in the Islington Bridging hotels who have limited access to activities and creative opportunities outside of the school term. The session was incredibly well attended with approximately 50-55 people attending the workshop over the course of the afternoon, 35-40 children with accompanying adults.


Solace Women’s Aid; Page to Puppet, a creative journey through journaling, collage and puppet making We have a long relationship of working with Solace to bring together female survivors of domestic violence/abuse. Providing these women the opportunity to take part in puppet making workshops. Solace have been keen to continue working with us as the women accessing their services have positively benefited from arts-based programmes and projects and have requested that there were more on offer. Arts projects which connect women who have experienced similar trauma can be therapeutic and help with the recovery process. Nine women took part in the course. The atmosphere was friendly and supportive, with many women commenting on the benefit of the social aspect as well as the boost in creative confidence. At the beginning of the course, the average number chosen for how confident they felt in taking part in a creative course was 4.5 and at the end, it rose to 8 out of 10.

Markfield; Travelling Circus Performance and inclusive workshop We took a Travelling Circus show to Markfield, an inclusive play space in Tottenham for children with learning differences and their families (many of whom are on low income and access this resource for free). Alongside the show we delivered a workshop on creating spinning plates with a changing background. The show was performed to 30 children and their parents, in their own community venue. The children loved the interactive elements of the show and got up on stage to help a dog on a tightrope and to search for tiny performing fleas!

Islington Library Project We took a brand-new show all about kindness to North Library, Islington as part of the Spine Festival to inspire a love of stories and reading in children. The story came to life through puppets, games and the children’s ideas! 30 Year 2 children, 4 teachers and 2 library staff watched the show (as well as a family browsing the shelves who soon walked over to watch).

Sebbon Street. This was a wonderful event and a unique way for families to enjoy theatre when they were unable to leave their house.

Age UK online shadow puppet A four week course with 12 participants from Age UK exploring shadow puppetry and using shadows to tell stories. The course was over zoom during one of the national lockdowns and was a way for participants who may be isolated to come together and create their own small shows.

‘I’m very proud that I did it- never done that before. I’d like to do it again and get some more sounds and effects.’

Pantry Puppets (St Giles Trust) We partnered up with St Giles’ Trust to deliver a series of workshops with children and carers who access the foodbank run by St Giles. The children all created personal superhero puppets that amplified something they were proud of themselves. We created a short film by the end of the four days and found that on top of having lots of fun, the participants had boosted confidence, creativity and enjoyed positive family time.

Doorstep Puppet Theatre Throughout lockdown, Doorstep Puppet Theatre Company created a pop-up show that could be performed on families’ doorsteps whilst traditional theatre venues were closed. Little Angel Theatre organised for the company to perform their show to 70 people across the local estates, either at their door or in community centres around

The Wishing Tree This was an exciting project that was co-created by our local community and schools. Working with poet and playwright Joseph Coelho and six visual artists, we commissioned a poem to inspire the making of six ‘wishing trees’ each with a slightly different theme. The trees took up residency in 5 school playgrounds (four of our partner schools plus Pooles Park Primary) and inspired thoughts and reactions around local children’s experiences during lockdown and their hopes, dreams and wishes for the future. The contribution the pupils made during these workshops was then used to help inspire the writing of a new show ‘The Wishing Tree’ which was performed in September. Nearly all the children involved in the creation saw the show and were hugely proud of their input and seeing themselves represented on stage. 130 children took part in the Wishing Tree workshops.


PEOPLE This year was again very different for our staff team, reopening our onsite activity, with all the challenges of COVID-19 restrictions and safety measures, re-building the confidence for our audiences, artists and staff. We gradually adapted to a hybrid working model and wound down our engagement with the furlough scheme as our operations got busier. The resilience, energy and enthusiasm shown by our whole team has been remarkable. Like everyone in our industry, we have been impacted by staff turnover, with individuals reviewing their life and career choices coming out of the pandemic, but we are nearly back to full capacity looking forward to the new year. Our in-house Design team is now well established, led by our in-House Designer, Ellie and supported by two puppetry Interns, Jess and Ruby, who were recruited through Creative Access with support from the Mo Siewcharran Fund. The team created the sets for Reach for the Stars, Where the Bugaboo Lives and There May Be a Castle, as well as making their own digital shorts broadcast on our YouTube channel. We are currently in the process of fundraising for and recruiting a new set of design interns, creating a clear structure for the programme now that we are not constrained by the limits imposed by COVID-19. We have been proud to continue employing our fantastic network of freelance creatives, performers and technicians throughout this difficult period and as we have reopened it has been brilliant to welcome them back to our buildings. We followed up our engagement with the Freelance Task Force, by participating in the Mayor of London’s Creative Freelancers scheme, working with freelancer Laura Cadlow to continue to evaluate how the sector can deliver best practice.


20 core members of staff, both full time and part time

157 freelance creatives 55 workshop leaders and


23 technicians 16 FOH and BO team members

Opportunities have continued to be limited for volunteers this year, but we hope to reignite our volunteer programme now that we are back to operating more of our regular activities. Trustees James Bierman Lydia Cotton Lauren LaRocque Ele Lewis Chris Lowry Katie Owen (Chair) Linda Stanfield Sarah Wright Sharon Zhu Patrons Dame Judi Dench DBE Clive Owen & Sarah-Jane Fenton Michael Pennington Baroness Pitkeathley OBE Sir Simon Rattle CBE Michael Rosen Gregory Doran (Honorary) Honorary Associates Ronnie Le Drew – Honorary Associate Lyndie Wright MBE – Honorary Associate

FINANCES Over the last year we have been excited to welcome our audiences back with strong box offices for all of our shows, alongside rebuilding our schools, community and professional development programmes. This was made possible by support from generous funders, building partnerships with co-producers and local organisations and ambitious but agile financial management. Looking forward to the 2022/23 financial year, we are still operating in very challenging times – the fundraising and philanthropic climate is more difficult than ever, and whilst we have secured 50% of our fundraising target, we are moving back to a bigger reliance on our earnt income (box office, touring, enterprise etc.) Over the past 12 months, we have gradually rebuilt our output, being one of the first venues to reopen when restrictions were lifted, delivering a consistent programme since June 2021 and restarting our touring programme with a Christmas transfer, and a full nationwide tour in spring 2022. We have continued to deliver digital content, engaging with this new audience that we developed over the pandemic, and are working on ways to subsidise this going forward. We are incredibly grateful to the individuals and funding bodies who have supported us throughout this period, and in spite of the huge challenges of the current climate, we continue to adapt our output and corresponding business model. We are adapting by: diversifying our fundraised and enterprise income streams to subsidise our schools and community engagement programme, as well as our digital output; exceeding living wage salaries throughout our staff and creative teams, in order to go some way to tackle cost of living challenges;

educing our environmental impact, whilst • rprotecting and maintaining our cherished buildings; committing to undertake the Inc Arts UK 1% challenge, allocating 1% of our budget to activity that adds ethnic and/ or disability diversity to our work and operations.

Income £1.6M



19/20 (actual) Earned

20/21 (actual) Donated

21/22 (est)

22/23 (forecast)


Gov support iluding Cultural Recovery Fund, Furlough scheme and other business grants

Expenditure £1.6M




• •


19/20 (actual)

20/21 (actual)



21/22 (est)

22/23 (forecast)



SUSTAINABILITY In 2021, our Sustainability working group has moved from strength to strength. We produced There’s a Rang-tan In My Bedroom & Other Stories - our first show to achieve the Theatre’s Green Book baseline sustainability criteria by doing things such as ensuring that the set and props are reused and making its set from 95% recycled material. Following this success, we committed to all new productions made at LAT following the baseline standards as a minimum. Our overall carbon output is down an estimated 28% from last year and we continue to review our building’s carbon performance. We have sought further advice and completed surveys of our studios’ building to see its suitability for heating with a ground source heat pump. Whilst it is feasible for us to install in our building it has proved difficult to finance. Securing funding for this installation

will ensure that our buildings are warm while we continue to improve our infrastructure and work towards our Net Zero goals. Our workshop leaders spent time examining their working practices to reduce single-use plastics. As a result, we have become members of the Work and Play Scrapstore to source leftover craft materials. We have completed waste audits to look at what goes to landfills and have created a plan to reduce single-use coffee cups and to Terracycle our crisp packets. We have moved to all vegan and palm oil free options for our refreshments offer. Through the next year, our group will continue to work hard to use our privileged position to inform and educate children, their parents and carers, in their responsibility to our world through our work and examples of industry best practices.

ACCESS Our digital work continues to be mindful of access needs, with all our content subtitled and, conscious of digital deprivation, we are working closely with our partner schools and community groups to bring these to life in classrooms and workshops. We continue to work on access challenges in our buildings, including with the council at our studio site (where our lift needs to be replaced), and continually review adjustments to both our infrastructure and operations ensuring that we are able to welcome as many people as possible into our spaces. We have made a commitment to allocating 1% of our budget to support activity adding ethnic or disability diversity to our programme and operations. Each of our productions includes a Relaxed Performance within the run – where we provide a visual story and the lighting 30

and special effects are adapted to be as accessible as possible. Looking forward to next year, we are also programming BSL performances. We have widened access to our Puppets for All scheme, allowing families who would otherwise be unable to afford to come to the theatre to receive free tickets to our shows, with nearly 700 tickets given away this year, and plans to promote and extend the scheme further. We continue to work to diversify the pool of performers, creatives and facilitators that we work with, through open calls and training opportunities. We have offered 16 bursary places this year on our professional development courses to individuals who would otherwise not be able to access them, and we are planning to extend this programme to Angel’s Little Explorers, our baby and toddler class.


PARTNERSHIPS We are proud to work closely with a number of businesses on mutually beneficial sponsorship arrangements. If you are interested in partnering with us please contact development@littleangel


Partner Schools St Mary’s William Tyndale Laycock St John the Evangelist Winton Hugh Myddelton New North Academy Sacred Heart

DONORS Little Angel Theatre is pleased to be supported by a wide range of organisations and individuals.

Public Funders


Significant in-kind support


Organisations that we have worked in partnership with in 2021-2022 Age UK The Arc Bang Bang Drum School Barbican Library The BIG Alliance Chance UK Creative Access Culpeper Community Garden Fun Palaces Guildhall School Islington Centre for Migrants and Refugees Islington Council (Libraries & Bridging Hotel) Markfield Project Solace Women’s Aid St Luke’s Community Centre Whittington Health NHS Speech and Language

Principal Funders: Trusts & Foundations

Significant Funders: Trusts & Foundations The 29th May 1961 Charity The Austin and Hope Pilkington Trust Awards for All – National Lottery Baily Thomas Charitable Fund Chapman Charitable Trust The Childhood Trust The D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust Fenton Arts Trust Gisela Graham Foundation Greenpeace The Hodge Foundation John Horniman Children’s Trust The Ironmongers’ Company John Thaw Foundation The Leche Trust The Lucille Graham Trust MariaMarina Foundation Meat Free Mondays The Molecule Theatre Trust The Morris Charitable Trust Mo Siewcharran Fund (Creative Access) NESTA Old Possum’s Practical Trust The Radcliffe Foundation The Reed Foundation The Red Hill Trust Royal Victoria Hall Foundation Sandra Charitable Trust The Sobell Foundation The Souter Charitable Trust Three Monkies Trust Trusthouse Charitable Foundation Voluntary Arts England Wingate Foundation

Significant Funders: Individuals & Generous Friends Anonymous Anthony Conway Sarah-Jane Fenton Diana Hiddleston Ian McVeigh James Neilson Clive Owen Sue Owen Rob Owen Carolyn Ward Sharon Zhu

Company of Angels The Company of Angels are philanthropic friends who donate regularly. We couldn’t do the work that we do without their generous support.

Silver Angels Frances Barry James Bierman Philip and Natasha Broke Ana Cascon and Bill Shadwick Peter Charlton Elizabeth Comstock-Smith Neil Gaiman Roanne Insley Charles Ledigo Martin Ledigo Selina Macnair Ann Marshall CT Smith Thank you also to our wonderful 73 Bronze Angels. We are also grateful and humbled by those who choose to put Little Angel Theatre in their will.

Guardian Angels John Duffy Rebecca Glassberg Jill Nicholls Katie Owen Anonymous

Platinum Angels Ben and Ann Davison Dr Helen Munn

Golden Angels Peter Ball Marcus & Caroline Jones Andreia Jurquete Alison Macdonald Roger Mears Dr Felix von Reiswitz Jack Thorne Sharon White


CELEBRATING 60 YEARS We marked this milestone in several areas: created dedicated digital content • we celebrating some of our most innovative designers

e held various celebrations and events • wwith our partner schools, community groups and patrons

our brand and improved • woure refreshed website e invested in new productions, • wshowcasing the reach, impact and creativity of this remarkable organisation and art form

Far left and left: Ellie Kurttz

Isaac Madge

On 24th November 1961 Little Angel Theatre opened it doors for the first time, and began a 60 year journey, entertaining and inspiring generations of families through the magical artform of puppetry. A troupe of enthusiastic puppeteers under the leadership of John and Lyndie Wright transformed a derelict temperance hall in Islington into a theatre specially designed for children’s marionette shows - nothing like it existed anywhere in London. 60 years later, under the leadership of artistic director Samantha Lane and executive director Peta Swindall, this unique theatre continues to evolve and innovate, reaching millions across the globe.


Our 60for60 fundraising campaign enabled us to give away additional tickets and deliver special events to children and families who would otherwise not be able to access our work. The Little Angel Theatre is steeped in history, and has inspired and entertained children and their families for many, many years. It is also an organisation that has

pushed boundaries in puppetry performance and in theatre for young audiences. LAT would like to thank everyone who has attended shows or worked with us at the theatre over the last 60 years as it is because of you that this place is so special and we look forward to what the next 60 years will bring.

New brand and website



To celebrate our 60th year, we launched a brand new website and brand new brand identity adopting a new logo for ourselves. We wanted to honour our past while looking forward to our future and a considerable part of that process was about listening to what our audiences wanted from us and finding out what they loved and didn’t love so much about our existing brand and website. We worked with We Are Flow, a multi-award-winning brand and content creation agency, to create our new vibrant and fun brand. We also worked with Substrakt, to design our website with our customers at the forefront of its design and we’re really proud of what we have achieved together. During the pandemic, our digital audience grew massively. The challenge with re-opening was how do we keep our online audiences engaged with us as we start to physically open back up. This was extremely important to us and we wanted

2021 to bring our audiences along with us on this journey by inviting them to engage with our new brand as we began to return back to normal albeit in a slightly different way. To honour our online audiences, we created a designated ‘Watch Online’ section on our website as part of our Watch, Make, Share ethos. Additionally, we created a separate ‘For Schools’ section - designed specifically with teachers and educational organisations in mind as we believe passionately that children should have access to the arts. We have also worked hard to ensure that this access is at the forefront of our website, making it easier for people to find the information that they need so that they don’t miss out on schemes that they may be eligible for. This new brand was our way of saying ‘These past 60 years have been amazing and full of growth, and year upon year, we evolve. This is the latest evolution on that path. Let us look forward to what the next 60 will hold, together’.


Charity No. 232488

Cover photo Ellie Kurttz Registered Charity no: 232488 Company no: 668339 VAT Registration no: 233867152 Design: Hyperkit

“Fuelling the imagination through puppetry”

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