Children and teenagers who are exposed to live theatre are more likely to develop the emotional and cognitive skills required to enable them to deal with a complicated world according to new research commissioned by leading independent ticket provider Encore Tickets.

The research, conducted by Dr Natasha Kirkham, a Senior Lecturer in Psychology and Researcher at Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development at Birkbeck University London, found that live performance has distinct benefits to the average child.

This report is a follow up to earlier research commissioned by Encore Tickets in 2017, which examined adults watching a live theatre performance and found

  • Improved social tolerance: Experiencing live theatre over watching similar content via a screen, such as a movie, can achieve a much deeper understanding and absorption of the content leading to higher levels of social tolerance and a greater ability to question.
  • Improved academic performance: Engagement with performing arts can positively impact academic performance (Jaeger & Mollegarrd 2017) and can boost academic performance of the average child by 4% when drama is part of the curriculum according to
  • Positive social change: Theatre holds immense value for childrens’ developing minds. It is a powerful tool for facilitating children and teenagers’ self-efficacy to promote positive social change as well as an improved ability to broach complex and difficult issues and subjects.

Taken together, Dr Kirkham states this research suggests an evident benefit of theatre attendance for children, across a range of developmental areas. Theatre can improve social bonding, allow for emotions to be explored in a safe space, develop the emotional and cognitive skills to deal with a complicated world, and kick-start conversations about important issues.

Kieran Fox, Head of Consumer at Encore Tickets : “This report confirms what we have always believed about the importance of live theatre for children’s development. It is clear that live theatre can have a great impact on both academic performance and social behaviours, and we would love to see more investment in drama and arts in schools. We also hope that parents are able to see that there is more to live theatre than just a day out with the kids, there are also measurable developmental benefits and we would love to see more children to have access to more live theatre.”


Jægar, M. M., & Møllegarrd, S. (2017). Cultural capital, teacher bias, and educational success: New evidence form monozygotic twins. Social Science Research, 64, 130–144.

Ludwig, M., Boyle, A., & Lindsay, J. (2017). Review of evidence: Arts integration research through the lens of Every Students Succeeds Act. Washington, DC: American Institutes for Research. Retrieved from


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