Cornerstone supports acta’s programme and mentors a new generation of facilitators; sharing learning, improving practice; extending our programme of participatory theatre to offer more opportunities for both first-time and existing participants.

Cornerstone supports our acta associates, providing support and experience to both sustain careers in the sector, and to open up new community theatre opportunities with new communities.  It has provided a new Foundation Workshop Assistant post, Maryam Rutter, to include drama workshop delivery, theatre-making, engagement and participant support, monitoring and evaluation, project and partnership development; to provide the learning and experience required in order to identify, initiate and develop successful participatory arts projects. Read Maryam’s blog here.

The Cornerstone outreach programme will be ongoing throughout the three years (20 – 22), and work with partners to initiate a range of short-term projects, tasters, mini-projects and courses. These short projects will work with people facing disadvantage – refugees, migrants, asylum seekers, disabled people, people living in disadvantaged areas, socially isolated older people.

Starting 21 September, in collaboration with a local person (once a member of an acta youth theatre) a pilot Withywood Youth Theatre starts weekly workshops for local young people aged 8 – 13 years. More pilot projects to follow later in the year…

Summer 2020

This summer, we produced two afternoons of live theatre, music and making – a community arts trail through and around the acta centre, for all the family. The Home at acta trail is part of this Cornerstone programme, and took place on Weds 26 & Thurs 27 August. Watch the video of it here:

In September, we managed to perform a brilliant, sell-out performance trail: The Museum of Unsung Heroes“leave your Brunels’ and Frida Kahlos’ at the door, and share with us the heroes that we’ll never know we never knew. They may not be found in history books or museums, but that’s why it’s time for us to record their stories…” For one night only, on Thursday 17 September, the acta centre was transformed into a living museum, where audiences of six moved from room to room, watching a different theatre story; each inspired by a real life hero. Read more here, or watch the video below:

Seminar series

In terms of networking and developing opportunities for national debate about community theatre, Cornerstone is developing the popular acta seminar series, which has already attracted hundreds of attendees to engage with nationally and internationally renowned and respected speakers. The Company will continue to invest resources into the wider sector, to encourage the sharing of work and ideas, to promote discussions, to improve practice. The acta seminar series has provided regular opportunities for practitioners, participants, students and academics to hear from experts in the field, and to discuss and debate some of the issues, challenges and concerns for makers of participatory and community theatre.  Seminars are also key to acta’s commitment to sector development, and will form the basis of our initiative to encourage improved sector communications.

acta has always recognised the importance of a strengthened sector, and has a history of being proactive in this, leading the sector in the creation of a seminar programme, instigating and coordinating collaborations, events, touring productions, celebrating and debating the work in national and international festivals. acta’s Foundation programme in particular has attracted interest from around the sector, and inspired a range of companies, academics, funders and practitioners following the development of the programme.

Take a look at the three seminars which have taken place online, or are shortly take place during Covid-19 restrictions:

17 March 2021 | A Brave New World: see here

25 Nov 2020 | The Art and Process of Making Community Theatre: see here

124 June 2020 | Keeping Stories Alive: Heritage and Theatre: see here

Engaging & Attracting audiences

Cornerstone also has audience development at its heart, supporting the acta mission to increase audiences for theatre, by co-creating relevant, reflective and accessible theatre which will connect to and attract new audience members. acta believes that creating a new audience depends on creating new theatre, and involving that audience in that process.

A highlight of the Cornerstone programme is likely to be a new Festival, taking place at the acta theatre in 2022. The Festival will include performances from acta’s new theatre group and various associate projects, with international guests from the RAPPORT project. Other national companies will also be invited to bring work.

Cornerstone is an approach as much as an individual project, and is tied into the entirety of the acta programme, in that it is developing the impact and importance of improving diversity in the workforce as a means of promoting intercultural working, and increasing participation among diverse communities. It will enable acta to engage more people through tasters and outreach, the establishment of a new integrated theatre group, and the development of short-term and specifically targeted associate projects.