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Open Arts Courses
in Essex

for adults with mental health problems

Are you feeling stressed, depressed, isolated, excluded or recovering from other mental health problems? An Open Arts group might be able to help you.


The following are 12 week art courses that aim to increase confidence and skills by having fun with new art techniques.
We hope that by the end of the course you will feel confident to move on to join other groups or classes in your local area, or just to move on in which ever way suits you best. Through the course you will have opportunity to have a taste of art activities, and we will provide you with contacts and information on further arts participation or learning options, for you to take forward at your own pace following on from the course.

Promoting positive mental health through creativity

  • Supportive & understanding groups
  • Taster art sessions
  • Find your skills and interests
  • Enjoyable and relaxed
  • Increased self confidence
  • Better social networks
  • Gallery visits & exhibitions
  • Links to training and work
  • Volunteering opportunities
  • Improved mental health
  • Optional accreditation

Try your hand at printmaking, clay, drawing, bookmaking, painting, mixed media and more!
Any ability welcome, open to people with mental health difficulties , also open to carers seeking respite and relaxation.

Additional Information
There will be facilities to photograph and document your work throughout the course. All materials, tea and coffee will be provided but you are welcome to add any "found" materials of your own.
Please wear suitable clothing and/or bring old shirt or apron.
There is a charge for these courses which includes tuition, materials, the gallery visit and the cost of accreditation. If you are receiving services from SEPT for your mental health and have a Care Co-ordinator, please discuss with them your options for a Personal Budget, or Recovery Budget. If you are not eligible for a Personal Budget, please contact Kirsten, Open Arts Project Manager to discuss alternative options See contact details below.

Please see our article on Open Arts.


For more information on courses, and to sign up:
Call Open Arts on 01277 312916 to sign up
Kirsten - Tel: 01277 312917 Mobile: 07949440326 Email:

Download Guide for Referrers
Download Referral Form

April 2013

3rd April
Venue: Southend Adult Community College, Southend-on-Sea
Time: Wednesdays 10.30-12.30pm starting 3rd April for 12 sessions
Cost: £200

Type: (Visual Arts course) Lead artist to be confirmed. This is our standard 12 week course which you all know and love!
8th April

Venue: Brentwood Knightsway Centre, 32 A Knights Way Brentwood ESSEX CM13 2AZ
Time: Mondays 1.15 - 4.15pm starting Monday 8th April for 13 weeks
Cost: Free course – funded by Brentwood Share Fund
Type: (Drama taster sessions) Lead by Dan Burman with support from Ryan Lightfoot; drama taster sessions, video, social media and a performance at the end. (3 breaks throughout the course due to public holidays)

 Further information........ click here

Open Arts Performing Arts Course  
Arts Facilitators Dan, Ryan and Volunteer

Open Arts are linking with Dan to run a Drama course. The course will cover taster sessions in physical theatre, role play, improvisation and writing.

These workshops will introduce participants to drama as a means of expression. We will introduce ways of working with the body and voice to communicate ideas and emotions as well as events. Much of the introductory work will be through games and activities designed to get everyone comfortable with improvising and working together. Later we will introduce techniques such as voice work and singing, physical challenges such as simple balances and movement to music, improvisation, role-play, creative writing and storytelling. All the sessions are aimed at a fun experience whilst developing means of self-expression and perhaps learning new skills. In later weeks some parts of the workshop will be videotaped so participants have a record of their achievements and for evaluation purposes – this will be discussed with the group beforehand.

You will need to wear comfortable clothes.

Week 1) 8TH April 2013
Welcome, Ground rules, Introduction to workshop aims,
Getting to know each other, Focus games, Introduction to drama as a means of expression

Week 2) 15th April 2013
Welcome, Round robin, Focus games,
Spatial awareness, Introduction to improvisation

Week 3) 22nd April 2013
Welcome, Round robin, Focus game,
Storytelling through physical theatre, Introduction to using props

Introduction of video camera (Initially will be used just to get people comfortable with the camera, to help participants feel the focus is on the work)

Week 4) 29th April 2013
Welcome, Round robin, Focus game,
Exploring 'Community' what does it mean to you? Explore preconceptions.

Using newspaper articles and headlines to spark off ideas

Use the camera as before but this time will introduce mini interviews. A chance for participants to learn basic video camera skills, talk to the camera responding to simple prompt questions e.g. Are you enjoying the project so far? What would you like to see more of in the coming weeks? What is good or interesting in your local community?

6th May 2013 May Day Bank Holiday

Week 5) 13th May 2013
Welcome, Round robin, Focus game,
Creative writing, turning text into performance.

Creative excursion to local theatre space

Week 6) 20th May 2013
Welcome, Round robin, Focus game,
Confidence building, developing the voice.

(For the coming weeks the camera will be used to film the session content with individuals having the chance to do pieces to camera as they wish)

27th May 2013 Spring Bank Holiday

Week 7) 3rd June 2013
Welcome, Round robin, Focus game,
Responding to external stimulus. Newspaper articles, local artwork, local architecture.
Using these objects as a starting point

Week 8) 10th June 2013
Welcome, Round robin, Focus game,
Discussion (What is the outside perception of Brentwood, Mental health, Ourselves?) How can we use what we have learned so far to change those perceptions?

Week 9) 17th June 2013
Welcome, Round robin, Focus game,
Beginning to construct a drama piece, developing at least four of the stories or pieces that have come out during the previous weeks

Week 10) 24th June 2013
Welcome, Round robin, Focus game,
Development of stories from week 9, introducing character work and props
(Signposting Linda Wagstaff)

1st July 2013 Break Lead Artist Holiday

Week 11) 15th July 2013 Break Lead Artist Holiday
Welcome, Round robin, Focus game,
Working together as an ensemble, trust, influence and support.

Week 12) 22th July 2013
Welcome, Round robin, Focus game,
Playback and review.

Will show the participants the footage from their earlier interviews and ask them some simple prompt questions i.e. How do you feel now in comparison to before? Have we managed to include your views on your community successfully? What would you change about the project if we were to run it again?

At the end of the 12 weeks we will discuss as a group and individually what we would like to do next. Looking at other Open Arts projects (Open Studio), Other organizations in the local area, Adult Community Learning, Local Amateur Dramatic Societies and discuss how the group would feel about showing our work. This will be an entirely participant led decision respecting everybody's comfort zones while seeking to encourage participants to remain engaged in their local community.

Should Participants decide they would like to show our work, two further sessions will be offered allowing time for rehearsal and performance. First Rehearsal would take place on 29th July 2013 with performance date to be arranged.

Should participants decide they would not like to show our work we will aim to invite representatives from local community groups to visit the group and provide information on drama and arts activities in the local community. This session would take place on the 29th July 2013

Additional information
This programme is a guideline; there will be flexibility within the programme to work with individual interests as much as possible within the time frame. The facilitators are there to help, so do ask questions and make suggestions. All participants will be asked if they are comfortable with being on camera, and if you would prefer not to be filmed it will not be a problem at all.

Informal queries are welcome, call or email Kirsten 07949440326 or 01277 239184
or email

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June 2013

25th June
Venue: Hadleigh old Fire Station, Hadleigh
Time: Provisional dates: Tuesdays 2-5pm starting 25th June for 12 sessions
Cost: Free course – Funded by Essex County Council

Type: (Drama taster sessions) Lead by Dan Burman – similar to the Brentwood drama course.

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Other forthcoming Events



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