Somerset Stories: ActionTrack

Nick Brace, Artistic Director at community theatre leaders Actiontrack, believes music can change lives. The organisation’s open-ended and collaborative approach means more people without access to the arts are discovering how creativity can unlock potential as well as pleasure.

We spoke to him about how our 3-year grant for £96,000 from the Hinkley Point C Community Fund supercharged Actiontrack’s mission to help turn more people into musical leaders.

“From the start we’ve used a collaborative approach with people that don’t have access to the arts to create music, dance, spectacle and plays. Neither us, nor the people we’re working with, quite know what’s going to happen next. Are we going to write a song about this? Or tell a story about that? It’s all part of the process.

Men in a music studio with various musical instruments including keyboard and guitarsWe know we can help people create the kind of work they never knew they could. It’s about what might be appropriate, what might be useful, what might be fun, what might be exciting and nurturing for the community we work with.

Music has become our core activity. A decade ago the government commissioned a national music education plan. We became a lead delivery partner in Somerset because of our experience and skill set.

We’ve excellent experience working with young people having trouble staying in school, or staying well. I can’t say strongly enough how demand for that expertise is growing in Somerset. It feels scary how important that work is, and how much we could be doing.

Our Make Music: Repeat project brings together a lot of our previous experience. The idea is to scope out and pilot work with groups that would love to have music as part of their provision but don’t have the confidence, skills or network to set it up themselves.

For example, CHARIS Refugees offers support to refugees in Somerset. And so we’re helping set up music sessions in 2024 where refugees can come to play instruments or sing or just try things out. There’s the possibility that people will really enjoy making music. If we end up with two rock bands, great! Or even just one person who wants to write their own songs.

The grant from the HPC Community Fund, and also support from Arts Council England, enables us to be proactive. This gives us time and capacity to try things out and see what works best for the groups, individuals and communities that get involved. It’s what makes Make Music: Repeat really exciting.

Our aim is to help develop musical leaders who can then take the baton from us. So the legacy of the project will be new or newly confident music leaders running things across the area. As a result of getting involved you see how people open up and you hear their growing sense of self-esteem and confidence. You can see it in their smiles.”


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