AN INCLUSIVE theatre group which aims to improve lives through performing arts is set to expand thanks to funding of £20,000.
Hanger Farm Community Theatre is part of the Minstead Trust, which was set up in 1986 and currently helps more than 200 people achieve greater independence, as well as providing training and work experience.
The trust also runs Furzey Gardens and Minstead Lodge, and recently took over Hanger Farm Arts Centre in Totton.
Having received £15,880 from Arts Council England and £8,700 from Hampshire County Council, the theatre group can now introduce two new classes for people of all abilities: one for those aged 11-16 and one for adults.
Head of arts programming at the centre, Emma Golby-Kirk, said: ‘We are delighted to have received funding to expand our high quality drama training to the whole community.
“In time, we aim to connect members of all four disabled and non-disabled groups through shared workshops and performance opportunities. In doing so we will learn from each other and model the inclusive society we want to see.”
The new groups will join two existing sessions for people aged 16 or over with a learning disability, autism or other additional needs.
Currently more than 30 budding actors attend the theatre group to build confidence, develop communication skills and make new friends.
Some of the money will also be used to train people with learning disabilities in the technical aspects of theatre.
Emily who is a member of the community theatre, added: “I like the drama group. I enjoy using my imagination and pretending to be different people.
“Sometimes I feel nervous but when the crowd clap I feel happy and that I have achieved something. Thank you to the people who work to run the group, I’m looking forward to doing more.”
Existing groups for people with learning disabilities run on Mondays between 1.15pm and 2.45pm, and on Wednesdays between 1.30pm and 3pm.
The new adult group will run on Mondays between 11.30am and 1pm, and the youth group will run on Wednesdays between 6.30pm and 8pm. Both new groups will start in March.
The charity is hoping to raise a final £5,000 to complete the project and expand the technical training it can offer.
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