In 2012 St Helens Council’s Arts Service were awarded funding from Arts Council England to develop a cultural connections programme. Other Ways of Telling explored how the arts can improve the lives of people who are accessing or who are at risk of needing to access Adult Social Care and Health Services. The programme was delivered by Collective Encounters, a theatre company specialising in theatre for social change. This report draws on evaluations conducted with participants, audiences, stakeholders and staff.
The seven-month project enabled 116 people to participate in outreach activity in mental health support settings, community settings and within St Helens Central and Thatto Heath Libraries and a further 40 to take part in arts-based outreach activity. For 91% of these 40 participants it was their first experience of participating in the arts. The workshop programme culminated in a 45-minute performance entitled Break Free. This was devised and performed by 10 people who attended regular workshops and was directed by Collective Encounters facilitator, Aidan Jolly. Break Free was performed at St Helens Central Library on 15th March 2013 and took the audience on a creative journey through the various stages of mental health.