Manchester theatre group needs public’s help to fund show tackling homophobia

A creative company with a passion for the arts is turning to the public for its final fundraiser before its first national theatre tour next spring.

Art with Heart is a Manchester-based non-profit organisation that aims to engage young people and inspire changes in their view of themselves and the world around them.

The tour of Secret Diaries, which tackles issues such as homophobia and family life, starts in Ipswich in February and finishes at Manchester’s Lowry on April Thursday 2.

Creative director and founder of the company, Sarah Evans told MM: “It feels amazing that individuals are interested in what we are doing.

“The funding has been going amazingly and we are really confident that we are going to reach our target.

“It’s not just about the money, it’s about working together and to in a sense create a family in something we are all really passionate about.”

SNEAK PEAK: Secret Diaries heads to Manchester’s Lowry in April

The company wants to encourage women to achieve high positioned roles and support women lacking in confidence.

It has already received funding and support from New Wolsey Theatre, The Lowry, Contact, LGBT Youth North West, amongst other organisations.

Inspired by real life events, Secret Diaries follows the life of Hayley, a young lesbian growing up in the 80s.

We see Hayley dealing with family, friendships, coming out and finding her own voice and feeling comfortable with herself alongside her dad and best friend Debbie.

Sarah said that it was only through a queer contact that the play came together.

A generous lady came to the company and offered her mother’s diaries that spanned at least ten years of her life.

Reading them, Sarah noticed that there were a lot of life events that paralleled with her own and the play of Secret Diaries was born.

To explore the issues addressed further they are combining it with a question and answer session, an education pack, and launching workshops and teacher training days.

Art with Heart has created two versions of the play, one aimed at the general public and one compressed down in order to make it more accessible for youth groups and schools.

With the public’s support the company aims to give 22 performances across 12 venues.

Sarah added: “There is a sense of jeopardy for the tour if we don’t meet our target. It will still go ahead but it just won’t happen in the scale that we wanted.

“With the arts it’s all very ‘London centric’ but I think Manchester has a rich and diverse art scene and we really want to show Manchester off to the public.”

Current studying an A-Level in sign language, 30-year-old Sarah is keen to have an interpreter at each venue of the tour.

“The often nature of theatre is a lot of it is unplanned which never translates so as a deaf member of the audience you don’t get the same experience,” she said.

“All our members of the cast are therefore going on deaf awareness training so nothing is missed by any member of our audience.

“Our interpreter, Rachel, is involved in all our rehearsals to ensure that everyone gets exactly the same experience.”

The company is hosting a crowdfunding party on November 20 at Manchester’s Joyce Layland LGBT Centre as an opportunity to show its gratitude for the support.

It will also be a time to reflect on Anti-Bullying Week (November 17-23) as this is something close to the heart of the company and is another issue it wants to tackle.

Sarah said: “People often forget that it is not just younger people who experience bullying, adults can go through it too and we want to address that too.”

For more information visit their website

To help fund their tour visit

Main image courtesy of Nathan McDowell, other image courtesy of Sam Ryley, with thanks

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