One of the UK's largest independent grant-giving organisations Paul Hamlyn Foundation is to give £60,000 to Cast, Doncaster's flagship theatre from its Arts Access and Participation fund 'Explore and Test'.  


'Explore and Test' grants are designed to support organisations to test, pilot and evaluate new approaches and their potential to make a difference. The award covers a period of two years and will support Cast to explore a more sustained approach to learn about the complex barriers which prevent people from disadvantaged groups from accessing the theatre.  


Cast aims to work collaboratively with users from five community groups in Doncaster. Groups already recruited for the programme include Doncaster Conversation Club who support local refugees and asylum seekers, women’s charity Changing Lives, DMBC’s family scheme Aiming High and darts’ Creative Directions programme for people experiencing mental health issues.  


The initiative, called Social Seats, will see over 800 tickets made available throughout the two years, along with additional support activities including workshops, food provision, childcare and post-show discussions. The charity hopes the project will successfully build on existing learning and create sustainable, long-term relationships that encourage the hardest to reach audiences to attend independently.  


Deborah Rees, Director for Cast comments: 

'Everyone has the right to access life changing arts experiences that improve their quality of life. As a result of this grant we're really excited to discover how we can make this a reality in Doncaster. Cast's mission as a charity is all about equality, giving everyone the same chance to access the arts. This theatre is for everyone but in many cases, there's too much standing in the way. Thanks to the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Social Seats aims to tackle those big barriers head on - everything from low confidence, childcare, cultural barriers and the cost of the tickets. Over the next two years 800 local people will pass through Cast's doors with this scheme and we can't wait to welcome them.' 


Commenting on the award, Moira Sinclair, Chief Executive of  Paul Hamlyn Foundation, said:  

'The chance for people to live fulfilling and creative lives is central to our mission, and we see access to the arts as a right and as fundamental to achieving that. So we are delighted support Cast’s ambition to break down barriers and explore how to engage new audiences in Doncaster and more widely. The team there have already achieved a great deal - this programme builds on that experience and I hope will enable many more people to enjoy and experience what Cast has to offer.'