Give Big to Norwich arts

Next week people will get a rare chance to double their money as two of Norwich's top art organisations take part in a nationwide appeal. KATE SCOTTER takes a look at how the money will be spent.

Every pound donated to Norwich Puppet Theatre and Norfolk and Norwich Festival will be doubled next week.

The organisations are the only two in Norfolk selected to be part of The Big Arts Give, a challenge fund scheme to help arts and cultural charities build and develop the income they receive from individuals.

Starting on Monday, for one week only, the public will be asked to donate online to the two organisations.

If donations exceed targets set for each organisation, they will have the opportunity to double donations from The Big Arts Give Challenge Fund.

People will have to choose which organisation to support and will have to donate online on the relevant websites.

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The initiative will give Norwich Puppet Theatre the chance to raise up to �9,000 in vital funds for its education and outreach work, community projects and new productions.

If the target is met, it would be a welcome boost for a venue which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.

The bulk of the money will go towards the theatre's next production, Little Red Riding Hood, and educational work linked with the show. It is thought that each production costs about �30,000.

Ian Woods, manager at the puppet theatre, said: 'For a production, you have to have a period of rehearsal time where we have to employ two or three puppeteers and a director with no income at the time.

'Puppets for Little Red are going to be creative and made from wood.

'Money has to be spent on materials, costume-making, set-making and musicians. There are other associated fees, so it all adds up.'

As well as the large productions, the theatre also hosts a range of workshops for children where youngsters can learn to make all kinds of puppets.

With Little Red Riding Hood, it is planned to link in some of the themes and for children to make double character puppets, featuring both the wolf and the granny, and to take a proper look at the story.

'The great thing about puppets is that they enable children to exhibit their creative talents,' added Mr Woods.

'It's not just about the puppet-making itself but the stories the children can tell with the puppets afterwards.

'When you get less confident children who find it difficult to act out a story, they can become more confident with a puppet and telling the story through the puppet.

'Puppets are a great introduction into the whole experience of the cultural world.'

Meanwhile, the Norfolk & Norwich Festival aims to raise up to �15,000 to help fund its ambitious programme of free outdoor street theatre and participation workshops, the NNF11 May Daze.

The NNF11 May Daze will be a feast of street theatre, circus, music, dance, visual arts and much more allowing audiences of all ages to discover and engage with some of the very best outdoor companies and performers from the UK and Europe.

Jonathan Holloway, the outgoing director of the festival, said: 'The money we raise will enable us to programme more events and workshops and reach audiences who might otherwise be unable to access these kinds of experiences.

'It will enable us to give more people the opportunity to get involved and to access the festival.

'As part of the Big Arts Give, we have the opportunity to double every pound people give so we want people to please give generously during the week beginning December 6.'

People can donate from 10am on Monday at either for the festival or for the puppet theatre.