We use cookies on this site to improve how it looks and performs. For more information please visit our Cookies page.

Accept & Continue


  • Introducing-Our-Brand-New-Move-To-Improve-Project

Introducing our brand new, Move To Improve project!

posted 08 Apr 2020


At the Octagon Theatre we are proud to announce the official launch of our Move To Improve dance development project. The project announcement comes at a time of worldwide uncertainty and is certainly a very unsettling time for all those employed by the arts and entertainment industry. Both the Octagon and Westlands have been closed to the public since the evening of Monday 16th March under the guidance of Public Health England, with many upcoming shows either cancelled or postponed. As we await further guidance on when the theatre and entertainment venue can reopen, we want to focus on some good news. 


Earlier in the year, before the coronavirus pandemic became fully realised, the stars temporarily aligned in our favour, and we were lucky enough to secure funding from Arts Council England, Yarlington Housing Group and South Somerset District Council (SSDC) for our Move To Improve project. Over the past year the Arts Engagement team at the Octagon have been researching, planning and preparing the dance development project which will provide opportunities for artists within the South West and positively impact our community.


Today, 8th April, is the official launch of the Move To Improve project.

Despite the Coronavirus outbreak we have made the decision to keep with the original project start date, as we believe the Move To Improve dance project will enable us to stay connected with our community, provide artists with employment possibilities and facilitate dance into homes. It is our hope that the dance project will shine a light in these very dark times.

Our aim for the dance project is to improve and enrich the lives of the community. The Move To Improve project will help us to restore engagement in the arts amongst members of our community, provide support for young people or graduates beginning a career in the arts, and offer opportunities for artists and dance companies to perform their work on a regional stage.


The Move To Improve project can be split into two strands, the first being audience development and the second being participation, the Move To Improve project will span a total of 5 years. Strand 1 of the Move To Improve project is projected to run from April 2020 – August 2021. The first strand being launched today, largely focuses on making dance accessible to all and invites artists and dance companies new to the Octagon.

To give you a flavour of what to expect from the Move To Improve project, Motionhouse will be touring their outdoor production, Captive, to three free events across South Somerset during 2020 and 2021. This will be a great way to bring communities together and show our support for local charitable events following the effects of the Coronavirus.


We have also invited 3 dance companies new to the Octagon to diversify our offer, these companies will form the Octagon’s first Contemporary Dance Series, where patrons will receive discounted tickets if they book for one or more productions in the series. With support from Yarlington, we will be offering residents of housing associations £3 tickets to four contemporary dance productions, at the Octagon, over the course of the year. This comes at a time when some households may be struggling financially, so to be able to offer discounted tickets to professional productions at the Octagon, will both allow and encourage access to the arts and theatre for a wider network of people.

It is our hope that the first strand of the Move To Improve project will have a positive impact on our community and industry, and go a long way in re-engaging people with live performance art. To extend our reach within the community we have invited a collection of individuals to form our first Audience Steering Group. The group will have a vital impact on how we engage people at home and encouraging our community back to the theatre once we reopen.


Initially we will be working remotely on this project, communicating with our Audience Steering Group via video call, and engaging with our community online. We will continue to bring dance into homes throughout this period of isolation and will continue to adapt the Move To Improve project around the current situation. We hope this will come as good news amidst this period of uncertainty and will help bring all members of our community together again.

Keep your eyes peeled on the Octagon website for updates!

Working on the Move To Improve project are Katey Leader (Project Manager) and Katherine Hoskins (Project Coordinator). If you want to find out more about the project or have any questions, please feel free to get in touch by emailing Katherine Hoskins at Katherine.hoskins@southsomerset.gov.uk