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  • Music-Making-Project-In-Merriott-For-Adults-Facing-Mental-Health-Challenges

Music-making project in Merriott for adults facing mental health challenges

posted 02 Feb 2024
Music-making project in Merriott for adults facing mental health challenges

The Octagon Theatre are working in partnership with Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (BSO) to deliver a 10-week music-making project to ARK (Acts of Random Kindness) at Egwood in Merriott which started this January..  

Somerset Wellbeing Orchestra is a music-making project aimed at adults who have reported mental health challenges or would like extra support. As part of The Octagon Theatre and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra’s (BSO) partnership bringing music into people’s lives across Somerset they are working with ARK at Egwood and The WATCH Project in Chard, to deliver this 10-week project.

Sam Mason, BSO Associate Musician, along with a trio of BSO musicians will lead participants in creative music making with a focus on connection with green space to positively impact participants mental health and wellbeing. The Wellbeing Orchestra gives adults the opportunity to listen to, create and play music alongside other people in a safe and supportive environment. No prior musical experience is required. Each session begins with a shared lunch at ARK and concludes with tea or coffee and an opportunity for connecting with others.

The Wellbeing Orchestra music sessions will run weekly for 10 weeks from Tuesday 16th January, at 1pm- 3pm, at ARK at Egwood in Merriott. These weekly sessions are free to participants to take part in. Adults are referred into the project through ARK at Egwood and The WATCH Project in Chard. The project activity will be evaluated, with the ambition to develop and establish a regular programme of weekly creative music making activity to be delivered in the future.

This project has been made possible thanks to The Octagon Theatre becoming an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation (NPO) and being awarded an investment of £760,000 to support arts and cultural activities in Somerset over the next three years. Becoming an NPO enables more opportunities for communities to watch, take part and benefit from arts and cultural activities, including a programme of education, community and health and wellbeing projects with Orchestra in Residence BSO such as the ‘Somerset Wellbeing Orchestra’.

Katherine Hoskins, Arts Engagement & Outreach Manager for The Octagon Theatre and Westlands Entertainment Venue, said: “Within Somerset poor Mental Health is a growing issue, developing arts engagement opportunities to contribute to building positive mental health in Somerset is therefore an important part of our work and focus. Our ambition is to provide more opportunities for local residents to be inspired, connect with the community, and access high quality activities where they live. We are delighted to be working in partnership with The BSO, ARK at Egwood and W.A.T.C.H Project, to support our local community to have access to high quality live music from professional musicians in such a nurturing natural setting. We look forward to deepening our relationship with the local community as we continue to develop and deliver new participatory experiences together.”

Lucy Warren, Head of BSO Participate, said: “The BSO exists to bring music into people’s lives, to contribute to a happier, healthier and fairer society and we’re thrilled to be deepening our partnership with the Octagon on this new project supporting good mental health in Somerset. Our Wellbeing Orchestras are regular creative music making programmes, led by specialist BSO music leaders, supporting people with shared lived experiences to connect through the remarkable power of music making and enhance their wellbeing. These programmes are always built from the ground up in dialogue with local partners, and this fantastic partnership with ARK at Egwood and W.A.T.C.H Project is a collaboration that we feel extremely grateful to be a part of.’’

Nigel Bell, CEO at ARK at Egwood said: “This is an exciting opportunity for people attending ARK to engage in a fun musical activity, to experience the power of music and creativity for good mental wellbeing. It is also a great example of what can be achieved through partnership working and collaboration.”

Julie Matthews, Project Manager at The W.A.T.C.H Project in Chard said: “A wonderful opportunity to bring music into our project and to connect people through peer collaboration. It is exciting to know that we can have professional musicians working with our members opening doors for future ventures.”


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