At a time when funding for the arts is a low priority for many authorities, South Somerset District Council has bucked the trend and agreed to continue funding four Somerset based arts organisations for the coming year.
Actiontrack, Somerset Art Works, Somerset Film and Take Art provide a variety of activities across the district, including programmes of dance, performance, visual arts and new media with different sectors of the community and for all age ranges.
Each year, Take Art “Live!” the village performance scheme, brings over 20 high quality shows to village halls in South Somerset, so local communities can enjoy professional productions right on their doorstep. Take Art’s recent poetry based project, “Word Play,” encouraged people with mental health issues to express themselves through writing and performance and they are now working with the Octagon Theatre on an Arts Council funded, two year dance programme that will offer young people opportunities to explore dance as a physical and creative activity.
Somerset Art Works delivers the two week Art Weeks event each autumn, where hundreds of visitors from far and near come to the county to enjoy the talent that Somerset has to offer, while Somerset Film offers low cost digital media training and support to amateurs and professionals alike.
In schools, colleges, and youth clubs and with social service providers, including young offenders and pupil referral units, across the county, Actiontrack Performance Company has built a reputation for exciting, entertaining and innovative work in the participatory arts.
In agreeing the on-going funding for the arts organisations, SSDC councillors voiced their regret that the total grant of £15,150 was a slight reduction from grants awarded in previous years, but this was due to economic efficiency savings across the board. However, they praised the organisations for their tenacity and adaptability in the current climate and thanked them for their contribution to the health and wellbeing of the local community.
Councillor Sylvia Seal, portfolio holder for Leisure and Culture at South Somerset District Council said, “The value of work generated by these four organisations far outweighs the cost to this authority. They work with a diverse range of people from pre-school children to the elderly from all social sectors, offering creative and cultural activities, learning and skills development; they devise programmes designed to improve physical and mental wellbeing; they support the creative industries as a growth economic sector for the district and develop events that contribute to our local sense of place and cohesion amongst our communities.”