A new performing and creative arts venue is opening and launching courses for children and adults with additional needs in Kettering thanks to a generous grant from the National Lottery.
Picture the Difference (PtD) is a community interest company that runs art sessions, games nights, holiday projects and evening clubs all focused around involving those with additional needs in the performing and creative arts.
PtD is opening a new premises in The Yards in Market Street and will be launching two-day a week course on 16 September where participants will create original productions which will be staged to the community as pop-up performances.
Zoe Martin, creative director of PtD said: "The project is called Picture the Difference on Stage and it's National Lottery funded."
Zoe said the project has received around £126,000 to fund the project to run for two days a week for two years.
The course will be running on Wednesdays and Thursdays at The Yards, where the premises have a kitchen, music room, performance and rehearsals area.
Zoe said: "We are very excited about the launch and having the time and the space to be creative as a big Picture the Difference family.
"Now we have two full days to really create something special with the community.
PtD say their aim is to give those with additional needs the chance to develop personally and professionally and learn new skills, Zoe said it is aimed for those with an interest in theatre and creative arts.
PtD will also be launching a course called Picture the Difference Arts Leadership course which aims to give participants these professional skills.
Zoe said: "That's where we are developing our participants to become art leaders in Picture the Difference. We would like to skill them up and give them an opportunity to develop workshops for younger people with additional needs."
The arts leadership course received around £20,000 of funding from an EU grant called South East Midlands Leadership Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP).
The creative director said she thinks giving participants the skills to run workshops is important for children with additional needs too, she said: "I feel like it's really important for children to have something to aspire to and see other people with additional needs being successful. It gives them motivation.
"Even now, I have someone I used to teach and he comes in and does the Black Light Theatre Company with me and the children are really encouraged by it."
Black Light Theatre Company is another performing arts project that Zoe runs with Picture the Difference and is funded by Children in Need grants. The theatre company visits special educational needs schools.
Zoe said she also has received more regular funding from the Northamptonshire Community Foundation.
Funding success has been thanks to long-term work from Zoe, who said: "You have to be quite proactive, it takes time and a lot of work and you have to start with smaller pots of money.
"When you have an established track record it gives you a chance to go for larger ports of money. It's been a journey to get to this point."
The funding for PtD on stage is only for two years, so Zoe says she wants the projects to become sustainable and is looking for other forms of sponsorship.
"We are always looking for partnerships with other organisations, we partnered with Northampton University.
"It would be amazing to be sponsored by a company," she said.
In the future, Zoe would like PtD to be able to offer holiday clubs and thinks provision of activities is important for people with additional needs.
"Sometimes people with additional needs do not feel able to access mainstream performing arts projects, maybe because they feel they need extra support.
"They sometimes feel they can’t access it or they feel out of place sometimes but we love difference, we want to make a difference by celebrating difference, making a difference in our community and developing participants."
Zoe said people can get involved by self-referring and can do so by visiting Picture the Difference's website and emailing.
Picture the Difference's new venue and projects launch will be on 16 September, 7.30pm - 9.30pm at The Yards, Market Street, Kettering.