Brewhouse Theatre secures grant to build on successful development programme

Taunton’s Brewhouse Theatre has secured a £136,000 grant from the Garfield Weston Foundation’s Weston Culture Fund to enable the creative arts centre to build on new projects which were introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant will also support employment opportunity at the Theatre.

The theatre spotted a number of opportunities when it was forced to close its doors to audiences and diversified into the digital space through an innovative HomeBrew development programme. It also expanded its physical offer to appeal to a young, more diverse audience.

The HomeBrew programme introduced new artists to a wider audience in the digital space, while the theatre supported local artists with a package of financial support, mentorship and showcase opportunities to ensure the Brewhouse remained as a vital creative hub for artists and audiences in the area.

The grant from the Weston Culture Fund will ensure HomeBrew can continue its success and expand to include a new series of professional development services including:

  • Commissions for mid-career SW artists to develop and present ground-breaking new work
  • A week-long residency for multiple artists culminating in a shared work-in-progress showcase
  • A weekly course for local writers
  • Professional development workshops incl. in fundraising, partnership building and marketing
  • Engagements with under-represented artists

Amy Bere, Chief Executive of the Brewhouse Theatre, said: “Our plan for the next 12 months is to continue to build on our successful work, engaging with artists and focusing on developing new and existing audiences. This will allow us to improve our resilience for the remainder of the pandemic by serving a wider audience base, while also establishing a more impactful role for the organisation within the regions’ wider creative industry.

“We are extremely grateful to the Garfield Weston Foundation for supporting our ambitious plans for the future, with a key element of these programmes being recruitment into our Programme Team to support programme delivery and further enrich our region’s creativity by offering a vital launchpad to a regional early-career producer.” As part of the programme, the Brewhouse will also review its existing objectives to reach audiences who have not historically engaged with the theatre – specifically, young people (16-30), people of colour and LGBT people.

“We will work in partnership with local groups and advisers based in these communities to build a programme that understands their interests and objectives and to spread the word more effectively.

“By continuing to work with existing regional partners, including Somerset Library, Take Art and Wassail Theatre, we will also continue our strong history in presenting work in non-theatre settings (outdoors, schools, community centres etc.) as we know this to be an effective strategy for circumventing barriers to cultural engagement,” Ms Bere added.

The Garfield Weston Foundation

Established over 60 years ago in 1958, the Garfield Weston Foundation is a family- founded, grant-making charity which supports causes across the UK and gave over £88million last year. It has donated well over £1billion to charities since it was established.

One of the most respected charitable institutions in the UK, the Weston Family Trustees are descendants of the founder and they take a highly active and hands-on approach. The Foundation’s funding comes from an endowment of shares in the family business which includes Twinings, Primark, Kingsmill (all part of Associated British Foods Plc) and Fortnum & Mason, amongst others – a successful model that still endures today; as the businesses have grown, so too have the charitable donations.

From small community organisations to large national institutions, the Foundation supports a broad range of charities and activities that make a positive impact in the communities in which they work. Around 2,000 charities across the UK benefit each year from the Foundation’s grants.