Panto audiences at Exeter Northcott Theatre dug deep over Christmas and raised almost £9,000 to help fund ground-breaking work with youngsters.
Theatre-goers contributed the record-breaking amount via bucket collections during the festive run of Jack and the Beanstalk, which cast 16 local children in its chorus.
The final tally, from a show seen by almost 18,000 people during its five-week run, worked out at more than 50 pence for every customer.
The Northcott, which is a registered charity, run youth theatre groups for children aged nine to 16 years old at summer, Easter and Saturday schools.
Its Creative Learning department works with and visits regularly more than 40 schools across Exeter and Devon.
The Arts Council has called its work with young people with specific learning needs sector-leading.
This year, the theatre’s stand-out project saw the Creative Learning department and PaddleBoat Theatre Company working with staff and young people from schools on Exeter’s Topsham Road – ERADE, Isca, Southbrook and WESC and Wynstream Primary.
This project enabled students from very different schools work together to challenge perceptions of themselves and others. Dozens of students with very different backgrounds and learning needs came together to celebrate their achievements and share the work at the Exeter Phoenix in November.
Creative Learning Manager Lisa Hudson said the generosity of audiences meant that £8,992 would now be channelled into more important work in 2019.
“I am so grateful for the generosity of our panto audience,” she added.
“Money raised will help to provide opportunities for young people across the county, many of whom will not otherwise have the chance to experience live theatre and drama workshops.”
Artistic and Executive Director Daniel Buckroyd added: “The Northcott is a theatre for all the people of Exeter and the surrounding region, and our Creative Learning programme is a key part of how we achieve that. We’re thrilled that our audiences have played their part this Christmas in helping us reach out to more children and young people over the coming year.”