We are delighted to announce that The Octagon Theatre has been awarded National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) status from Arts Council England, which sees an investment of £760,000 to support arts and cultural activities in the area over the next three years.
What does this mean for our residents, communities and patrons?
By becoming an NPO we will be able to provide more opportunities for our communities to watch, take part and benefit from arts and cultural activities.
The NPO investment will support our Arts Engagement & Outreach team to grow, develop and deliver programmes and activities that benefit health and wellbeing, enrich learning and education in and outside school, inspire and celebrate talent. Creating work that will support local artists and tell “local stories”. Our work will seek to improve inclusion and remove barriers, whatever they may be, so that everyone is able to enjoy and benefit from the creative arts.
Our beautiful county is a great place to live but we recognise the issues our communities face and key issues surrounding rural isolation, areas of disadvantage, to challenges around mental health and an ageing population. Our activities will seek to positively contribute to and alleviate these issues, with more opportunities for residents to interact with the creative arts from within our venues and in community locations throughout the district.
Here’s a glimpse of some of the initiatives we have planned:
Arts for Health & Wellbeing: Working with NHS trusts and voluntary services, we will develop creative activities that deliver emotional and physical support to people with mental and long-term health conditions. We aim to establish regular specialist support-led sessions in community settings across South Somerset that will support treatment, recovery and long-term wellbeing.
Creative Learning & Education: Between 2023-2026 our target is to work with a minimum 32 primary and secondary schools, reaching students from rural and deprived areas to ensure children have the opportunity to be inspired by the arts.
Participation: There are three elements to our participatory programme with delivery of regular activity in community locations and our venues, targeted workshops, and high-quality enrichment opportunities with amazing artists and companies.
Programme Development & Commissioning: To reach audiences outside our venues we will look to produce a community production, project commissions to celebrate Somerset’s cultural heritage, and free to watch performances out across the district.
Talent & Workforce Development: We have planned projects to support young people, emerging and established artists fulfil their potential and sustain creative careers here in Somerset.
Access & Inclusion Schemes: With a focus on improving access in the midst of the cost-of-living crisis our priority will be to launch an Accessible Pricing Scheme and Access Fund, enabling people from low-income households the opportunity to attend shows and workshops at no or heavily discounted cost.
As you can imagine there is much to do and we are excited to be in this journey as we transform The Octagon Theatre and the services on offer to you. If you would like more information or to get involved please contact our Arts Engagement & Outreach Officer, Katherine Hoskins, Katherine.firstname.lastname@example.org and keep up to date on our websites for the latest information and opportunities to get involved.
Photo Credit: Len Copland