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  • Octagon-Theatre-Set-To-Deliver-Popular-Music-Making-Project-In-The-Community-For-New-Parents-And-Their-Babies

Octagon Theatre set to deliver popular music-making project in the community for new parents and their babies

posted 04 Oct 2023
Octagon Theatre set to deliver popular music-making project in the community for new parents and their babies

A taster session of a project in Wincanton that aims to deliver sensory and creative based music activities to new parents and their babies has sold out days after going on sale.

The Octagon Theatre in partnership with Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (BSO) are delivering an 8-week music-making project to the Balsam Centre in Wincanton this Autumn.

Time Together is a music-making project aimed at new parents and their babies aged 0 -12 months, delivered by the 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.

BSO musicians will lead participants and their babies through exciting activities aimed at increasing bonding. Parents and babies will go on a creative journey through making their own music, using their voices and having a go at playing some instruments. Each session will end with tea and coffee and an opportunity for connecting with other parents.

The project will open with a sold out Time Together Concert on Tuesday 10th October, where parents and their babies will be able to come and experience music together, with a chance to see what the project will be like and meet BSO’s musicians and workshop leader. Places on the taster session were free thanks to support from The Octagon Theatre and the BSO.

Following the Concert, the Time Together music sessions will run weekly for 6 weeks from Wednesday 8th November, at 10am- 11:30am, at The Balsam Centre. These weekly sessions are free to parents and their babies (0-12 months) to take part in. If you are interested in joining these weekly sessions, please speak to Carrie Madgwick, Arts Engagement & Outreach Officer at the Octagon Theatre & Westlands, via email Carrie.Madgwick@somerset.gov.uk or call 01935 462064. No musical experience is required.    

The Octagon Theatre, the BSO and The Balsam Centre in Wincanton are working in partnership to develop and deliver this pilot project, as they introduce specialist support-led activity that positively impacts people’s health and wellbeing. The successes of the pilot activity will be evaluated, with the ambition to develop and establish a regular programme of weekly support-led activity to be delivered in 2024 onwards.

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 such as the ‘Time Together’ project with Bournemouth Symphony 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 and the Balsam Centre, to support new parents and their babies in Wincanton through this fantastic opportunity to engage with music and professional musicians in an intimate community 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: “We exist to bring music into people’s lives – and our Time Together project does just that at the very earliest stages of people’s lives. We are really excited to be piloting the Time Together project with The Octagon Theatre and The Balsam Centre in Wincanton. Both organisations chime with our ethos and are well equipped to support and enhance the delivery of this project, to enable us to bring world-class music-making experiences to people’s doorsteps.”

Kelly Starr, Children, Young People & Families Manager at The Balsam Centre, said: “We are excited to be extending our maternal mental health support at The Balsam Centre by working alongside The Octagon theatre and the BSO with this unique opportunity to combine music and peer support.”

A participant of Time Together in 2021 said “While you’re still looking after them it’s a bit of downtime where you’re not on your own looking after [baby]”

A participant also said “[BSO Musician] was playing the bassoon in the session, [and] he was really intently watching what she was doing and listening to it - well I think he was listening to it, you could see he was taking it in…”

Another said “It is that nice space you can take [baby] along where they’re enjoying something and you’re having some fun as well at the same time.”


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