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Funding for new Include Programme

17 January 2017

Tacchi-Morris Arts Centre has been awarded funding from The Clarke Willmott Fund to develop a dynamic programme of inclusive arts in Taunton. The scheme, which is hoped will act as the pilot for a bigger arts on prescription programme in the region, will bring some of the UK’s most exciting inclusive companies to the South West.

The programme of work entitled Include aspires to reduce the stigma around ageing, mental health and learning disabilities through presenting real-life stories on a public stage. Include seeks to uphold role models who are proudly different to our cultural stereotypes and use their life experience to create brilliant work.

Image: Hijinx Theatre, Meet Fred

Tackling such weighty issues as depression or isolation on stage is a challenge and some may consider this a rather unusual form of ‘entertainment’. However, as Louise Lappin-Cook, Co-Director at Tacchi-Morris affirmed – ‘our inclusive audiences have grown enormously and we feel the work we are programming is of central importance to audiences, as well as being some of the most cutting edge theatre and dance you will see. Theatre has historically been our core way of challenging and changing the world around us. The shows included as part of our Include programme question representation on stage and public perceptions of mental health issues.’

Image: Stopgap, Artificial Things

And these are important issues to challenge. Evidence shows that lonely people are seven times more likely to be dissatisfied with their lives and twice as likely to be anxious. People with a high degree of loneliness are twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s as people with a low degree of loneliness.  (Age UK Evidence Review, 2014). Far from being something that happens to someone else, one in four of us will experience a mental health problem at some point in our lives and one in six adults has a mental health problem at any given time. (Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group, Community Mental Health programme) In 2014 it was estimated that there were 2,036 people aged 18 and over with a moderate to severe LD living in Somerset. Based on current prevalence estimates and ONS population projections, the number of people aged 18 and over in Somerset with some form of LD is projected to rise by around 10% to almost 11,000 by 2030.

Louise added: ‘Audience responses to previous inclusive performances have been incredible, One attendee noted : ‘Never before has a show left me with so much to think about’, another added ‘I laughed and cried. I was surprised that a show on such a serious subject matter about something so sad was so lovely and funny. ’ Tacchi-Morris’s street survey in Taunton revealed that only 14% of people asked had seen a professional performance featuring actors or dancers with a disability – an important statistic to challenge!

Amongst the companies forming part of the programme are Hijinx Theatre – a Cardiff based puppet company and Edinburgh Fringe sell-out, created in association with Blind Summit. The production: Meet Fred, features a cloth puppet who fights everyday prejudice and ends up in a battle at risk of losing his PLA (Puppetry Living Allowance.) Aimed at audiences aged 14+ Meet Fred is a funny, sharp and imaginative piece of theatre which has received acclaimed reviews, described by The Guardian as ‘Sharp, funny and vastly entertaining.’

Stopgap Dance Company return to Tacchi-Morris with their new production The Enormous Room which comes fresh on the heels of Artificial Things (which is now on the GCSE Dance syllabus). Stopgap specialise in creating exhilarating dance productions for national and international touring. As a company they employ disabled and non-disabled artists who find innovative ways to collaborate. The Enormous Room tells the story of Dave. Although his wife Jackie is gone, Dave still sees her everywhere. She is lying in his bed, sitting at the kitchen table and laughing with their daughter Sam. Dave is not going anywhere and has withdrawn into the living room. He has built the walls up high and is refusing to let the future in. But going is all that Sam can think about. Exploring bereavement and isolation Stopgap promise sensational dance and storytelling in a performance you will not forget.

Image: Frozen Light, HOME

Last year Tacchi-Morris was one of only five venues to tour I am Joan – an incredible autobiographical piece of dance theatre exploring personal experience of depression by Somerset artist Viv Gordon. Viv Gordon was the winner of Judge’s Prize at Arts in Health South West Awards 2015. To coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week 8th – 14th May, I Am Joan will be returning to Tacchi-Morris brining this incredible hopeful comedy about a woman in trauma finding empowerment by connecting through inspirational Joan’s – Joan Collins meets Joan of Arc.

A key aim of the programme is to generate public dialogue around the performance and issues raised. Many of the shows in the Include programme will feature a post-show discussion from the company and prominent local third sector organisations, as well as offering networking opportunities for local third sector charities and organisations and support groups as well as artists working in the arts and health field.

In addition to staging productions that raise awareness, Include will also take outreach workshops to community settings, offering free professional workshops for support groups who have experienced mental health issues, social isolation and disability groups, as well as encouraging new groups along to the theatre.

Image: Stopgap, Artificial Things

Events are listed below. If your organisation, community group or charity would like to get involved in the programme, or you would like to find out any more information please email Louise on [email protected]


29 March 2017 

An inclusive theatre workshop with Hijinx Theatre Company, 4:30 – 6:30pm

Meet Fred Performance by Hijinx Theatre Company (14+) 7:30pm


8 – 14 May Mental Health Awareness Week


9 May 2017

Arts and Health pre-show networking event  and exhibition opening, 6:30pm

I am Joan by Viv Gordon + post show discussion (14+), 7:30pm


9 - 26 May 2017

Include Exhibition: an exhibition of work by ‘outside’ artists raising awareness of mental health issues and learning disability as well as featuring a range of inclusive artists.


19 May 2017

HOME by Frozen Light Theatre Company + post-show discussion, 11am & 1:30pm: a specialist performance for PMLD audiences and carers (maximum 6 per show at 11am), (11+)


20 Sept 2017

Arts and Health Speed Networking Event, 7pm

A networking event for arts and health organisations featuring presentations on collaboration across arts and health


19 October 2017

Arts and Health pre-show networking event, 6:30pm

7:30pm, Stopgap Dance Company, The Enormous Room + post show discussion