Last week, a group of refugees and asylum seekers had the opportunity to enjoy a sold-out classical chamber music concert by Ensemble 360 at Cast. Seeking sanctuary from a range of countries including Iran, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Sudan, for many the visit was their first experience of UK theatre and classical chamber music.

The group, which numbered over thirty, were brought together by Doncaster Conversation Club and Doncaster Minster who work to support refugees and asylum seekers in the borough. As part of their visit, Cast welcomed the group with a hot meal and turned one of its rehearsal spaces into a prayer room for Maghreb prayer at sunset before the concert. The tickets were generously donated by Music in the Round with catering and refreshments supported by One Stop Carriers for Causes.

Louise O’Brian, from Doncaster Minster Literacy Project commented: ‘Doncaster Conversation Club and the Minster Literacy Project were happy to work together with Cast to offer asylum seekers and refugees living in Doncaster the opportunity to attend Saturday night’s concert at the theatre. Ensemble 360 were brilliant and experiencing them playing live and in the round was extra special, intimate cultural experience for those who attended.’

One attendee commented: ‘That was so beautiful. Next perhaps we will see the opera, it is something I have always dreamed of doing’

Deborah Chadbourn, Executive Director for Music in the Round said: ‘At Music in the Round we believe music speaks to everyone, no matter where they're from, and that it helps people connect with one another. When Cast told us about their Social Seats initiative that welcomes different groups to experience of the huge variety of shows they present, we were thrilled to be involved. Not everyone thinks that classical music is for them, but the success of this first concert in bringing diverse communities together to hear inspiring, talented musicians, shows that it can be. We're keen to continue to support this initiative, which helps people feel that Cast, and our concerts, are for everyone in Doncaster.’

Cast’s Social Seats pilot initiative sees the organisation bring together touring companies and community partners to create opportunities for some of the most economically and culturally deprived communities in Doncaster to engage with world-class arts and culture.

Deborah Rees, Cast’s Director said: ‘Everyone has the right to explore, enjoy and express their cultural selves, and its up to Cast to make that happen – it’s a really big part of what we do as a charity. In fact we’re committed through and through to enriching the creative and cultural life of all local people. By welcoming and supporting those who face the biggest inequalities in our society, Cast can develop new ways of being a dynamic and well-loved asset of the town. I’m so proud that through projects like Social Seats we’re bringing people together with a kaleidoscope of backgrounds and circumstances to experience and share in something transformative together as a community.’

Alongside local refugees and asylum seekers, Cast is working together with women’s charity Changing Lives, DMBC’s family scheme Aiming High and darts’ Creative Directions for people with mental health issues.