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  • Arts-Engagement-And-Outreach-June-News

Arts Engagement & Outreach: June News

Arts Engagement & Outreach: June News
posted 10 Jul 2024

Our Arts Engagement & Outreach team 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”. In everything we do and programme we 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 Arts Engagement & Outreach team look to provide more opportunities for our communities to watch, take part and benefit from arts and cultural activities where they live.

SHiNE 2024 - Finale

June has seen the return of our locally celebrated annual community platform SHiNE, which saw over 200 participants from the local community take to the stage, plus a series of inclusive music-making workshops for disabled young people and adults. Please read more below…

Octagon Academy: Participate

200 people take to the stage

This year our annual community platform, SHiNE, took place for the first time at Westlands Entertainment Venue, due to the temporary closure and redevelopment of the Octagon Theatre. On Saturday 8th June, over 200 participants from across Somerset, as part of The Octagon Academy and local performance groups, got their chance to ‘Shine’ in front of an audience of 500. A fantastic night was had by all, as the community came together, took over the stage, and shone.  It was wonderful to see such high-quality performance acts and the level local talent take to the stage was extraordinary.  Audiences got to watch a diverse array of performances starring young and old ranging from dance, music, and theatre.  For some of the participants, it was their first time performing on a professional stage in front of an audience.

“I had such a great time at the show. It’s easy to be pessimistic about the state of the arts but today gave me optimism! Seeing so many people having such a good time and everyone putting their heart into making it happen.”  Audience Member

Somerset Grad Dancers at Shine 2024


Music-making workshops inclusive for all

Earlier this month, we delivered a series of music making workshops for disabled children, young people, adults and their families. These workshops were supported with funding from the Somerset Council Inclusion and Activities Team, and delivered at Westlands Entertainment Venue, by Evolve Music, a company with an extensive track-record of delivering inclusive music services for communities in the South West. Each workshop was adjusted based on the age and abilities of the participants, with the practitioners ensuring everyone was included. Participants got the opportunity to shape and inspire the content and try using a combination of both traditional and tech-based instruments. Each session created a welcoming inclusive space, with participants working individually to create a group piece.

“They absolutely loved it.  Jude who is 6 and quite shy came away wanting to buy bongo drums.  Both girls had a blast, they came out bouncing with joy, determined to get some music making going at home.” Parent

Inclusive Music making workshop

Artist Support

Piano Nights strike a cord

We believe that a stronger Somerset means bringing the county’s cultural practitioners together. We also believe that sharing expertise, bouncing ideas around, and signposting to other opportunities across the county & the region is an integral part of what helps keep a professional creative ecology moving in the right direction. A few months ago, we started our live Piano Nights in the Lounge Bar at Westlands.  So far, local musicians Sam O’Neal and Eric Arthur have tinkled the ivories of our gorgeous grand piano, entertaining patrons with an array of background music from covers to original work and more.  Our monthly Piano Nights not only enable us to give local musicians the opportunity to play live, but they also provide free-to-access culture at Westlands.  Forthcoming Piano Nights are 10 July (Caroline Wallis-Newport); 28 August (Jeremiah Pickard) & 11 September (Sam O’Neal).

“Thank you for letting me play your beautiful piano, it’s such a great space” Eric Arthur, musician.

Piano Nights

Arts for Health & Wellbeing

Enabling access and reducing anxiety over attending new activities

Over the last year our team have been providing taster sessions for people to come and meet the teachers and try out our specialist Arts for Health & Wellbeing activity, before taking that first, big, and quite often, difficult step to try something new. These Taster Sessions have enabled people to get a better understanding of what to expect, gain the confidence to attend their first session and ease the transition into a new activity that will have benefits for their overall health & wellbeing. We have provided 7 free taster sessions engaging over 160 people for our Health & Wellbeing programme of specialist support led activity within the last year, with plans for more.

‘I didn’t know what to expect, but this has given me the encouragement I needed to come and try the group. Now I know the leader, and that I can sit down if I need to, I feel more comfortable coming for the first time!’ Participant 

Movement Through Cancer taster

Access & Inclusion Schemes

Support provided for low-income individuals

The SHiNE Bursary Fund is there to offer either full or partially funded places at our Octagon Academy Classes and activities run by The Octagon and Westlands.  Our SHiNE Bursary Fund supports individuals of all ages to take part in creative art activities at The Octagon & Westlands, who might not be able to afford the opportunity otherwise. This term the scheme has enabled 8 participants to take part in our participatory classes and saw 3 recipients performing at SHiNE last month. For more information and to apply head to:  https://www.westlandsyeovil.co.uk/discover-more/shine-bursary-fund/

 “The support that The Octagon Theatre & Westlands Entertainment Venue have been able to give my son through attending holiday activities and now weekly classes has made such a difference.  As a parent seeing your child suffer anxiety because of bullying is heartbreaking, the difference in him now is amazing.  He feels comfortable going into the venue and has a sense of belonging and being valued.  He has his spark back.” Parent

Shine Bursary Fund Logo

Talent Development

Providing an insight into creative careers

As part of their Year 9 careers week, Gillingham School invited one of our Arts Engagement & Outreach Officers to come and lead a careers talk to their Year 9 GCSE Drama students. In total 40 students attended the talk which covered key topics linked to working in a receiving theatre such as the Octagon Theatre and Westlands Entertainment Venue. The talk also highlighted to students the key elements of the Arts Engagement & Outreach programme and skills and attributes required for a career in the creative industries. The talk was well received and afterwards the students had a go at creating plans and a budget for a community event, giving the students an idea of the skills discussed in a practical scenario. After the event there was a Q&A session where students asked some really insightful questions finding out more about the job roles and responsibilities within the Arts.

‘The students really enjoyed listening and finding out about all the amazing opportunities and events that are on offer to them. They were particularly shocked to find out what costs were involved to organise such events. Overall, a thorough and engaging presentation!’ - Teacher


Creative Learning & Education

Celebrating a successful first academic year

At the end of a busy academic year, our Spring/Summer education newsletter was sent out to schools across South Somerset. The newsletter highlighted the fantastic opportunities our partner schools have taken part in over the past academic year, from workshops with Wise Children Theatre Company and Motionhouse Dance to attending Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s schools’ concert. The newsletter is our chance to share with local schools the great range of activities we have coming up for young people including our work experience programme, summer schools, and 4 free Play Day events taking place across South Somerset which will not only feature a selection of workshops but a live performance by a professional theatre company.  Read the newsletter here.

'Our school would love to be a part this programme' - Headteacher 

BSO Schools Concert

To keep up to date with all the activities coming up head over to the What’s On section on our website or check out our Participate page which will link you to all our projects and upcoming opportunities.