Words: Denise Hutton-Gosney, MD and Founder of Razzamataz Theatre Schools LTD
Razzamataz Theatre Schools is a BBC’s Dragons’ Den backed theatre school franchise with more than twenty years’ experience in the industry. Along with her team, MD and Founder Denise Hutton-Gosney has helped her franchisees to pivot their businesses online during the COVID-19 outbreak. The transition has been more successful than anyone could have imagined, leading to heartfelt testimonials of thanks from parents struggling to motivate their children at home and also franchisees who have felt supported and inspired during school closures.
“If this pandemic has taught us anything, I believe it is that we now value experiences over physical things. We have always known and spoken about how important performing arts is for confidence and well-being, but now we have seen first-hand how it can really lift people. Although the closure of theatres has obviously had a huge financial impact on the performing arts industry, it has also reminded us the joy that it brings so we really believe it will come back stronger than before.
“There is already a lot of talk about how school closures have affected children’s mental health and well-being. Even within our own Razzamataz community, we have reached out to parents and students who have shared the worries that they have. Many of our schools have also hosted Seniors Night’s In, this is something that we have always encouraged because it gives our older students the opportunity to connect with their teachers and friends, speak out about any concerns and generally have an input into what they would like from their performing arts classes. During lockdown, these sessions took place over Zoom and have proved vital for our young people, many of whom have felt a loss of confidence and are worried about their future.
“Parents are concerned about the impact that isolation has had on their children and can now clearly see the benefits of belonging to a performing arts school, even for those children who don’t want to pursue it as a career. Investing in your children will be more important than ever before and we believe it is something parents will prioritise over material objects. We have had so many testimonials from families saying that although their children enjoyed Razzamataz before, it is only now that they really understand how much it gives them in terms of their mental well-being and happiness.
“With parents across the world having to become teachers overnight, it has also become very apparent what a unique skill teaching is. Our teachers very quickly pivoted to teach inspiring classes online, a skill that we believe will serve them well in the future. In fact, many of our schools have had such success with their online classes, that demand enabled them to offer a number of private online classes. This is something that is very cost effective to do online, rather than face to face, so we will continue to offer this in the future. We have also held many online master classes and talks with performers from the West End, including musical theatre and Broadway star Kerry Ellis. In the past, we have had performers come into our schools to teach but we will continue to look at offering online master classes, especially for our more rural schools that struggle to find professional performers willing to travel.
“In terms of business, even during the pandemic, we had five new Principals join our network. I believe that parents and families will be looking for exceptional quality and reassurance from their theatre schools. We have worked with experts and other franchisors to ensure that we can offer a COVID secure reopening, which includes ensuring that each school Principal passes our new health and safety audit. Customers are going to want to know that their children are in safe hands and that there are systems and procedures in place to deal with whatever the future throws at us.”
Typical customer testimonials:
“Shortly after enrolling at Razzamataz, COVID-19 arrived to challenge us all further but Razzamataz rose to the occasion proving themselves and all their teachers to be thoroughly resourceful and utterly determined that the children continue to feel part of something special and that there was still fun and learning to be had. I couldn’t have been happier with their resilience and uncrushable positivity to not only survive these crazy times but to thrive and to also keep our children feeling good about themselves,” parent Willow Nash.
“Loving this Razzamataz community more and more. From excellent online classes, additional activities and the cherry on the cake – a little postcard to know we are missed. This has been one of the most positive experiences of our lockdown existence,” Kirsty Morrison
Typical franchisee testimonials:
“Razzamataz are the most supportive franchisor, constantly seeking to learn, grow our brand and provide us with the very best and most up to date advice. We have been so lucky to have them during COVID-19, they have been there constantly to offer guidance and help us to look after our customers,”
Helen Bell, Principal Razzamataz Sheffield.
Email: [email protected]
Karen Keeman: [email protected]