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  • Arts-Engagement-And-Outreach-October-News

Arts Engagement & Outreach: October News

posted 30 Nov 2023
Arts Engagement & Outreach: October News

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.Super Saturday in Yeovil with Autin Dance Company

Throughout October the team have been busy developing and launching our programme delivery with activity taking place across Somerset, read more below…

Arts for Health & Wellbeing

On Tuesday 10th October, The Octagon in partnership with Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra held a Time Together Concert at The Balsam Centre in Wincanton for new parents and their babies. Tickets were offered FREE to parents, a total of 25 parents attended with their babies, with many audience members coming from Wincanton and the surrounding areas.

100% of those that attended the Time Together Concert agreed that the concert has a positive impact on them their baby.

Time Together is a music-making project aimed at new parents and their babies, delivered by BSO through sensory and creative based music activities. It is intended to cater for parents who have reported feeling low following the birth of their child. The project includes 6 weekly 1.5hr music sessions for 8 participants and their babies, taking place over November & December.

Time Together Concert

Creative Learning & Education

Our 8 partner schools for 2023/24 will be working with Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (BSO), Motionhouse Dance and Wise Children Theatre Company. The schools offer will allow teacher 'Cultural Champions' to work in partnership with The Octagon and Westlands in an exciting school's programme including, CPD, workshops, performances, and careers advice.

The schools involved this year includes:

  • Westfield Academy, Yeovil
  • Preston School, Yeovil
  • Hollyrood School, Chard
  • Stanchester Academy, Stoke Sub Hamdon
  • St Gildas Primary School, Yeovil
  • Wincanton Primary School, Wincanton
  • Manor Court Primary School, Chard
  • Oaklands Primary School, Yeovil

Westfield Academy: “Motionhouse created a truly outstanding experience for our students. It was really lovely to see ALL of our students growing in confidence and working with the professional dancers on such a complex level. With the support of the Octagon the children in our school are building their cultural capital and having access to world famous professional companies!”

Motionhouse at Westfield Academy

Talent & Career Development

This month we have launched our Early Careers Club, as we look to nurture and support emerging and established artists to grow their careers here in Somerset.

The Early Careers Club is a space for individuals at the start of their professional journey to come together, network, learn, share experiences and grow. You might have just graduated from a full-time degree or vocational training, perhaps you’ve found another pathway into the industry, or maybe you’ve already started to establish a career in the arts but feel you need additional support. Early Career Club members will get support with CV writing, fundraising, what it means to be freelance, self-assessment tax returns, event management, marketing and navigating the arts industry. Members will be encouraged to create a plan for their own future professional development with our team, and at each meeting members will co-create, design and programme workshops and events as a group to help you develop your practice and next steps into the industry.

Artist Support

This month we have launched our Creative Commissions programme, as we look to nurture and support emerging and established artists to grow their careers here in Somerset.

Our Creative Commissions programme offers six small commissions for professional creatives and companies working in any artform to develop innovative ideas that reach and engage Somerset’s residents. With commissions of up to £500 available. The application process closes on 30th November 2023. You can find further information about the Creative Commissions, including eligibility, here.

Creative Commissions - Artist Support

Octagon Academy: Participate

On Saturday 28th October The Octagon & Westlands ran two Inclusive Pottery Workshops for disabled young people (and their carers/parents) aged 7 - 18 years. The workshops complimented the Yeovil Literary Festival by embracing the theme of 'Magic, Myths and Monsters' from young adult fiction. The sessions were popular with 18 young people attending and 20 parents/carers across two workshops. It was great to see the adults investing in the process as much as their children by all working together to make their pottery creatures, choosing designs and adding expressions and colours. Feedback was positive across the board with 100% of attendees saying that they would recommend workshops at The Octagon & Westlands in the future. 

One parent of a disabled young person said "he rarely gets involved with creative activities at school or finishes a task, but he's done so well today! We're going to put it up on the wall at home. I'm so glad you get funding for activities like this. It's brilliant." Another participant said, "I've never done clay before. I really liked it, it was a lot of fun. I'm really happy with what I made." The consensus from parents was that the workshops held the attention of their children brilliantly and ignited their creative sprits through making their own characters in clay. 

Creative Clay Workshop

Octagon Academy: Weekly Classes

The Octagon Academy is an umbrella for all the participation classes that we run at Westlands Entertainment Venue. We are currently running 17 classes across the week from Bollywood Dance to Tiny Dancers to Youth Theatre to our popular Octagon Choir. During the first half of the Autumn Term, we have had over one thousand participants come into the building attending participation classes.

Inclusive Dance

In January we are launching a new Octagon Junior Choir. Working in partnership with Armonico Consort, a critically acclaimed choir and instrumental ensemble, the new choir is aimed at anyone aged 7–12 and is fully inclusive. The young people will work with a professional choir leader and pianist and learn different genres of music and have many opportunities to perform both at Westlands Entertainment Venue, Yeovil and further afield.Next summer’s highlight looks to be a performance at The Royal Albert Hall. The Octagon Junior Choir officially starts in January 2024 but before that we will be visiting 7 local primary schools running free singing assemblies and spreading the word about the new choir.

Octagon Junior Choir


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.


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