Outside Edge Theatre Company (OETC) is the UK’s only theatre company and participatory arts charity helping people affected by addiction. For the past 20 years they have been funded by local authority public health departments in Hammersmith and Fulham, Westminster and Kensington and Chelsea to provide free, abstinence-based drama activities in the local community to support people’s recovery maintenance.
OETC has been selected as the inaugural winner in Hearts for the Arts Awards’ new award category: Best Arts Project – Arts, Health and Wellbeing. And, in the words of our judges, here’s why:
It’s a pity OETC seem to be so unique – clearly the service they provide would benefit more people if there were more projects like it. Alom Shaha: Physics teacher, dad, author of Mr Shaha’s Recipes for Wonder
OETC work successfully in an area that’s underfunded and often shunned. Often addicts do not have the family support group or the outlet to find their self-esteem again – these guys are providing that. Gary Kemp: actor, musician, songwriter, founder member of Spandau Ballet
Full marks in every category for this extraordinary company that doesn’t just improve lives but saves them. Far-reaching and ambitious in its remit, it has transformed the lives of people living with addiction and the subsequent poor mental health beyond measure. I wish every town, city, community in the country could offer what they do. Julie Hesmondhalgh: actor, activist
There is such an authenticity to the work Outside Edge Theatre Company undertake – starting from their roots and culminating in the comments by participants. The model of peer mentors in particular appears to be a key to their success. Plus, raising a national conversation about issues around substance misuse through a script competition is a great next step and one which I know I’ll be following with interest. Kirstie Wilson: Kirklees Council, winner 2019 Hearts for the Arts Best Local Authority Arts Champion – Officer
This project fills me with joy and hope. Such a great force for good in people’s lives – reliable, challenging, inspiring, educating, and clearly in many cases, life-saving. The highest praise for Hammersmith & Fulham, Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea for their support of this transformative company. Some of us, as actors, are lucky enough to know how being part of something bigger than yourself can change your world. We never want this feeling to be unique to actors. Outside Edge brings to those lowered and challenged by substance abuse the togetherness of rehearsal, the robust self-testing of creativity and the simple joy of performance; together they make a powerful, sustainable, important project. These people save lives. We should support them. Samuel West: actor, director, Chair of the National Campaign for the Arts
It’s the individual stories from Outside Edge that stick in the mind. Proof if we needed it that creativity within a community can bring real change. This is a remarkable project that inspires hope and self-belief in those trying to escape years of substance abuse. Susie Dent: lexicographer, etymologist, host of Countdown’s ‘Dictionary Corner’
Read more about Outside Edge’s nomination here
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