Words by Abi Scaife
Do you want a night of jazz, comedy and giving back to charity, all for the ridiculously low price of £10? If so, read on!
Creativity is key when it comes to kids - it’s a huge part of growing up. Being able to explore your thoughts and feelings through a creative outlet, using it to meet new people and socialise - in other words, it’s important.
Unfortunately, not everyone gets a fair go at the creative arts - plenty of schools cannot afford to focus on creative subjects as much as they do others, and many families cannot afford to send their children to creative clubs.
But that doesn’t mean that creativity isn’t necessary - in fact, being creative is a huge part of what makes us human, and is so important for every aspect of our lives.
“I believe that we are all naturally creative, as human beings in particular, we all have the ability to find solutions to problems using our creativity - and I am not alone in thinking that sadly our education system doesn't cater to that inherent creativity as well as it might,” says Matt Lane, the CEO of Eastside Educational Trust.
“There's a variety of factors that mean that the arts are often pushed to the side and not seen as being a core provision of education for marginalised.”
Eastside Educational Trust is a charity dedicated to helping young people find themselves through creativity. They run fully funded programmes for kids in London, to help give them a full, well-rounded creative education - and enjoy themselves at the same time.
To raise funds for their programmes, and to keep as many children from different backgrounds involved in the creative arts as possible, Eastside is throwing ‘April Foolery’ on the 24th April at 7:30pm - a night of comedy and jazz at The Criterion theatre, inspired by a very special person.
“Back in 2018, we got a check for £10,000 from someone who had no relatives to leave their estate to,” Matt tells Smiley News. “Some solicitors were instructed to give the [money] to a series of charities that work to develop young people, particularly the arts and creativity, and Eastside was selected to be one of the recipients.”
“When I got the cheque, I recognised the name of the family that was on it and it was the name of my old English teacher that I hadn't seen for 35 years.”
In memory of that teacher, David Lund, who had such a profound impact on Matt at school, and so many other children after his passing, Eastside set up the Lund Fund, to help raise money for disadvantaged children. It was also David Lund’s legacy that inspired April Foolery - yet another way to raise money for the children who need it.
“He was an incredible teacher who was very passionate about comedy and jazz, and he used to put on Thursday evening concerts in the school theatre, which is now named after him… and get the most incredible artists to come perform,” explains Matt. “As a student, I kind of thought that was normal … as I got older, I realised how fortunate and how privileged I was to receive those activities.”
April Foolery is a huge celebration of all things creativity, as well as a way to raise money for the charity. With comedy performances from the likes of Hugh Grant and Angela Barnes, and jazz performances from The National Youth Jazz Orchestra, the whole event will certainly be a night to remember.
Comedian Travis Jay is among the lineup for April Foolery, and he is determined to give back. Each of the comedians has agreed to perform for free, so that the maximum amount of money can be donated to the charity, and help as many kids as possible find their creative side.
“There's a big part of me that's really passionate to somehow address that,” Travis, who had a long wait before his big break, tells Smiley News. “Just [so] the next comic doesn't have to wait, you know, 12 years into their career before they get experiences like I did. So you know, when I saw that this is the cause I was like, yeah, that's an easy yes, absolutely. [I’ll] come down and give my time.”
Travis is firm in his belief that children need exposure to creativity - and that they need to be given the chance to find their niche and their home, whether that is in maths or literature, or if it’s in acting and singing.
“The quote from Einstein is, like, if you judge a fish on its ability to climb trees, he's always going to be a failure,” explains Travis. “And it's that thing - everybody has a different gift, you know, and academically, you know, that doesn't always shine through.”
“There's a kid [who can] express himself in a way that could be one of the finest displays of art … But in the school system, he doesn't concentrate, he doesn't listen, or he talks too much, says Travis. “As a child, [I’m] a class clown. As an adult, I'm a stand up comic.”
When asked why he agreed to perform in the April Foolery fundraiser, Travis simply answered, “That's what we do this for. That's your purpose. Your life is what you leave behind - your legacy. That's how you give back.”
If you want to attend April Foolery for a night of comedy and jazz - and giving back while you’re at it - you can buy tickets here on The Criterion website. If you use the code EASTSIDE10, it enables you to buy any ticket in the house (excluding VIP) for only £10!
If you want to give back to Eastside Educational Trust, either through a donation or volunteering, you can do so using their website.