acta thrives on creating social change that has a genuine, tangible benefit for individuals, communities and our wider society. Our mission is to bring together people from different cultures, experiences, and generations to make and share creative work.
We have three strategic outcomes:
- More cohesive communities
- Improved mental health and wellbeing
- More creative communities
Within this framework, our main priorities are reducing isolation and loneliness, increasing confidence and self-esteem, increasing self-value and sense of purpose and belonging, improving aspirations, and increasing access to the wider creative community.
We measure our impact through our own reflective practice, a constant dialogue with participants and communities, and feedback from audiences and partners.
In 2022/2023 we had 3800 workshop attendances with audience numbers of over 1500.
I go by Harry to people here. Though, my real name is Tom. I came here by accident. Long story short, my wife was a city councillor for the local area. She mentioned this group and suggested I might go along, which I did. At first, I got involved in an improvisation group and have been involved in a couple of our performances since then.
My general well-being is fine, but I’ve got a condition that means that I have to keep on top of my self-esteem all the time. It’s a condition that affects my brain and the way I move. So, I come here to get myself into an active role where I actually have to talk slowly, and talk clearly because my condition means that I tend to rush my words and stumble over them and also have difficulty with my movement. It all helps me to control it. It also helps me with my medication because if I’ve been here and done a good morning, it gives me good feedback and makes my muscles move a lot better.
I like to come up with ideas that are valued. I find that everybody’s ideas are valued. That’s a key thing; it’s such a varied group with people coming from all backgrounds, and it feeds into such a wonderful experience. The first play I was involved in was ‘Blood on the Coals’, which was about the local mine industry that was in the area. The experience that came from the people who actually lived in the area when the mines were being operated was fascinating. The elderly people that come to the group bring a lot of knowledge into the sessions with them. I find it fascinating and learn a lot from them. I thought it was brilliant to be able to do it here in a socially supportive environment.
I have met so many nice people along the way. The staff here are brilliant. They’re very supportive, and they’re very understanding of what my condition is. They bend over backwards to make sure it meets all my needs. It’s friendly, it’s comfortable, and there’s no judgement about my condition at all.
My name is Nathan and I’m in the Phoenix group. I started when I was in Primary school and I sort of just progressed from Bedminster Youth Theatre up into Phoenix as I got older.
Just being able to go there and not feel… I don’t have to feel myself, I can just, you know, enjoy the atmosphere every evening and really quite enjoy myself. When I first got there and was doing my first year with them, it was quite unusual and slightly difficult to get on stage and act, but now I can safely say I can just walk on there, get the show done, entertain people and not feel nervous.
I think the best one would be, ‘Sea of Time’, the one where I played Brunel. Just trying to get into that character was really quite interesting because of his background. What I liked about him was that it was quite fun to play a specific character like that.
It’s very open. Very open to anyone from any acting level. Yeah, really quite a nice place to be! I think the main thing I get is just confidence. That’s the biggest impact I’ve had from it. And they’ve really helped me just go into life a lot easier.
You don’t really know what’s going to happen in the session, you sort of just turn up, say hello to Ingrid or the director of the show, and it sort of just goes from there. That hour and a half, I think it’s a really nice thing to find out what is going to happen at every session and how it’s so different.
acta has really helped me in defining where I want to go in the future. And going in has also really helped me get a spot on a TV show that I filmed yesterday. It wasn’t big or anything but I’d have to say if I didn’t go to acta I probably wouldn’t have made the step to try that out. I cannot wait for more shows we do in the future.
My name is Suzanne, and I’m in the ‘Pick and Mix’ group. I discovered acta about eight years ago, when it was advertised in the paper. I fell in love with the acting side of it. You make new friends, you learn new skills, and I think it gives your confidence a boost. The skills I’ve learnt include how to pick up your cues, and remembering which side of the stage you exit on, as well as just learning your lines, because that keeps the brain going. And how to interact with other people as well. We all pull together as a team.
I think that I’m now more confident when I meet strangers. And you know, maybe with neighbours I haven’t seen for a long time, it makes you open up and be a bit more friendly.
I love when the audience appreciates all the months you put into planning the show and how the directors have worked so hard. That’s quite exciting as well. The whole thing is. The most impressive show I was in was called ‘Blood on the Coals’, and it was about the miners in the 1800s and how hard they had it. It was all based around Bedminster because this was a mining community at the time. It was lovely. I really got into that one.
Anybody that is interested, I would say to them, contact acta and see if there are any openings. They cater for lots of different ages as well, and their well-being café is good value as well.
‘Being a part of this group feels inclusive and has helped to alleviate loneliness, especially as I am a single senior.’
Member of Bedminster Poetry Group, formed as part of East Street Summer Arts Festival
The impact of East Street Summer Arts Festival
In Summer 2023, we launched East Street Summer Arts Festival, funded by Bristol City Council. There were three strands to this work – a youth theatre performance, poetry performances, and a drop-in art workshop. All had the common goal to enliven East Street, Bedminster’s high street, which is currently undergoing huge change as are many other high streets across the country.
We worked directly with 27 participants over a few months in the lead up to the festival, and engaged over 670 people as they shopped whilst the festival ran.
For further details of the impact, and lessons we learnt along the way, please download the full report below.