Socially Enterprising: Out of the Darkness Theatre Company

Here’s another profile of a successful social enterprise group, a theatrical organisation tackling social exclusion, whose patron is top actor Kevin McKidd

What’s the name of your company and who owns it?
Out of the Darkness Theatre Company; it is a charity and a social enterprise and the artistic manager is Garry Collins.

When was it set up?
The company was established 24 years ago, and it has been working as a social enterprise for about five years.

What’s the company’s aim?
The mission statement of the company is to combat social exclusion. We now run a National Certificate course for the University of Highlands and Islands through Moray College, which is a one-year foundation course in drama. In the past we have done outreach work with lots of schools and issue-based theatre.

What did you (spokesman Martin Mcauslan) do previously?
I have been with the company for about 10 years. I graduated from Queen Margaret College in Edinburgh. After leaving drama school, I worked for three years in community education in Edinburgh and I co-ran my own theatre company.

Why be a social and not a private enterprise?
It seemed like the logical step.

How many staff/volunteers do you have and what did they do previously?
Five full-time staff and four volunteers, and, over the whole week, about 42 service users. We also have college students, roughly about 80.

Artistic manager Gary Collins is also a drama graduate from what was the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow, he has performed in theatre for many years before coming to Out of the Darkness with the idea for setting up a NC course at Moray College.

Who are your main customers?
Our main customers are between adults with learning difficulties and NC course students. On top of that there is the public coming to see performances.

Tell us about your best trading experience?
Watching new students arriving. Through the course of time, seeing their self-confidence increase, seeing the social aspect of their life becoming more wholesome. That’s what I get a buzz out of. What keeps me in the job is seeing that transition, when they’re coming out of their shell and getting to a part when their lives are more and more fulfilled.

And the worst?
It is a very busy place to work, you have to multitask, you have to be able to turn your hand to things like care work as a support worker.

And what are your future plans?
We just moved into new premises about a year and a half ago, and it’s taken us this time to get the rooms up to the standard that we want them to be. The future is to put on more and more live productions.

For more information odtheatre.org.uk

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