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At last – a theatre loos scheme

I’ve been banging on about terrible lavatories  in theatres and other performing arts centres for years. In far too many cases provision – especially for women – is direly inadequate to the point of insult. https://www.thestage.co.uk/opinion/2015/susan-elkin-adequate-provision-loos-elemental-theatre-design/

Here are the facts: Women take longer in the loo than men.  Conventionally they need to lock themselves into a cubicle even to urinate. Often – more often, in practice, than men even in enlightened 2016 – they have children with them which slows things up. That’s why long queues snaking out of the ladies are the norm during theatre intervals. You rarely see chaps having to queue. Action is long overdue. Women need MORE facilities than men.

I was therefore delighted to see that benefactors Susan and Simon Ruddick (of course there’s a woman involved) have given Theatres Trust £125,000 to be distributed in grants to ten theatres wanting to improve women’s lavatories. It’s called the “Spend a Penny Scheme” – nice bit of historical referencing by the way. It now costs 50p (120 old pennies) to “spend one” at Victoria Station but we’ll let that pass.

The closing date for theatres to apply for such a grant is 26 October and decisions will be made in December about which applications are successful. Wouldn’t it be good if other benefactors followed suit so that many more (all?) theatres could really improve their lavatories?

Meanwhile I’m really looking forward to finding more facilities in more places where there is actually room to pull my knickers up, a bit of floor to stand on while I wash my hands without splashing my feet and – maybe – shorter queues

Could unisex be the answer to the West End’s toilet troubles?

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Susan Elkin
Susan Elkin Susan Elkin is an education journalist, author and former secondary teacher of English. She was Education and Training Editor at The Stage from 2005 - 2016
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