News

Funding boost for performance and career training in west Somerset

March 13, 2023

Stacked Wonky, a not-for-profit contemporary dance company based in Porlock, is delighted to have received a second grant from the Hinkley Point C (HPC) Community Fund, which is managed by Somerset Community Foundation. The team has now received a total of £15,000 from the fund since May 2022.

Stacked Wonky puts on professional dance performances ‘anywhere but the stage’ across Somerset – in unexpected locations such as the Somerset West and Taunton District Council offices at Deane House in Taunton. It also runs highly popular academies for children and teenagers in the area – and has become an important provider of dance training in Somerset. The company aims to benefit the community by enhancing community cohesion as well as building the confidence of young people.

Amelia Thompson, Senior Programmes Manager for Somerset Community Foundation explains: “This is an exciting project to develop young people’s aspirations in the arts. Stacked Wonky identifies and responds to the needs of young people to nurture specific skills, access training and apprenticeships, and it helps them to gain more advanced, hands-on experience across all aspects of professional performance-making.

“It is a site-specific dance theatre company running academies for young people, but they also open up access to the world of professional theatre, work experience and careers advice. They build skills in, and the self-esteem of, young people in west Somerset, working closely with the local colleges and schools to share knowledge to ensure young people can access best pathways for the future.”

We Come Before You, devised and toured by the young people from Porlock-based theatre company Stacked Wonky, which was part-funded by Somerset Community Foundation (photo credit: Marcus Way)

We Come Before You, devised and toured by the young people from Porlock-based theatre company Stacked Wonky, which was part-funded by Somerset Community Foundation (photo credit: Marcus Way)

Sarah Shorten from Stacked Wonky agrees, adding: “We work with west Somerset landowners and organisations to source unusual places for workshops and performances. Currently, we run two weekly academies for young people aged 5 – 18 in Porlock and Old Cleeve, both of which are full and have had waiting lists since September 2021. And we’re delighted that over half of those attending are boys, many of whom might not necessarily align with or respond well to the traditional educational system at school.

Sarah continues: “It’s important to note there is a limited offer in the way of drama or performing arts in our part of Somerset. There’s a specialist drama lesson just once a week for Years 7 and 8 at two middle schools in west Somerset; GCSE Dance and Drama were both removed from the curriculum at West Somerset College in 2016, and as that’s the only secondary provider for the whole of the region, career-building choices for creatives and young artists have been severely affected.”

Andrew Cockcroft, Senior Stakeholder Relations Manager at Hinkley Point C said: “We’re really pleased that this latest grant will help the team at Stacked Wonky continue their good work. Community benefit is at the heart of our fund – and we’re thrilled to be supporting organisations which are improving lives in Somerset.”

Stacked Wonky opened a more accessible office and studio in Porlock in 2021 due to its growing success in working with local businesses, educators, and families. This has led to a number of collaborations, including Porlock Tree Toddlers, a creative, forest school-inspired learning environment for local families struggling to travel to groups further afield.

Somerset Community Foundation has awarded grants worth over £100,000 from the HPC Community Fund’s Small Grants Programme to groups since May 2022. The Small Grants Programme awards grants of up to £5,000 – or up to £10,000 over three years – for charities, voluntary groups and social enterprises that normally operate on less than £100,000 per year. There is also an Open Grants Programme which is for larger applications, typically over £10,000. Visit www.hpcfunds.co.uk for more details. If you would like to discuss your project or idea please contact Amelia Thompson, Senior Programmes Manager: amelia.thompson@somersetcf.org.uk or call: 01749 344949

The HPC Community Fund is part of a wider £20 million commitment of funding, provided by EDF through Section 106 agreements, for communities that are affected by the development of the new nuclear power station, to promote their social, economic and environmental wellbeing and enhance their quality of life. Hundreds of projects have benefitted, and in total almost £13.3 million in grants have been awarded to date.

Somerset Community Foundation (SCF) is a charity that helps passionate people in Somerset change the world on their doorstep by funding local charities and inspiring local giving and philanthropy. They aim to build stronger communities in Somerset where everyone has the opportunity to thrive. They provide rewarding and impactful ways for donors to give through them, to the causes and places they care about most. Together, they fund amazing organisations and the passionate people that change lives every day.

Since SCF were founded in 2002 they’ve awarded more than £20 million in funding, changing thousands of lives across Somerset.

Photo Caption: We Come Before You, devised and toured by the young people from Porlock-based theatre company Stacked Wonky, which was part-funded by Somerset Community Foundation (photo credit: Marcus Way)


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