BARN is a collective theatre initiative, facilitated by Take Art, that supports Somerset’s emergent theatre-making sector to develop, test and showcase new work in a predominantly rural context.   

It was inspired by the North American rural tradition of barn-raising: in our case, the collective action of a theatre-making sector to build and sustain Somerset’s theatre infrastructure.  

With support from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, BARN Phase 1 ran from 2017 to 2019. In 2020 we ran an emergency support programme. 

BARN Phase 2 (2021/22)

Thanks to further support from Esmée Fairbairn, BARN Phase 2 runs until March 2022. It will include a Growth and Seed Fund; producing, business and access support; and Showcasing Opportunities, including at least one BARNfest. Another strand of the initiative aims to help strengthen the South West regional infrastructure for theatre-making.

BARN Phase 2 is informed by the profound impact that Covid-19 has had on us all and the projected roadmap out of lockdown. One of the many things we’ve learnt over the last 15 months is the need for flexibility and new ways of working, which we hope is reflected in our plans.

Our BARN FAQs has more information about BARN and should answer any questions you may have.


In BARN Phase 1, theatre-makers effectively used seed funding to unlock other resources eg 

  • ideas and projects that create the potential for new work 
  • bespoke professional skills development

We are extending this offer in Phase 2 by creating 1) a Growth Fund and 2) a Seed Fund.

The Growth Fund now has additional support from Strode Theatre through their ACE artist support programme, and together Take Art & Strode will offer 8 awards of £1,000 to individual theatre-makers and/or companies in Somerset to go towards the creation of a live theatre piece. The deadline for applications has now closed and we will announce the awards soon. 

The Seed Fund is a modest pot that will allocate smaller amounts on a needs basis upon request.

BARN Interim Year (2020)

In the midst of the pandemic, we were delighted to receive an offer of emergency funding from the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation. This, in turn, enabled us to create our own modest emergency fund for Somerset’s theatre-making community. In partnership with Theatre Orchard, we were able to support individuals who weren’t eligible or hadn’t received funding from other emergency funds.

The fund also enabled us to sponsor Emma Bettridge to become a member of the National Freelance Task Force, a collective to help ensure that the 70% of the theatre/performance workforce who are self-employed or freelance can be better represented in vital conversations about the sector’s response to the current crisis. This led to the creation of The Big Freelancer Report which is already informing our thinking.

We also supported the One Minute Theatre Festival, a commission of 35 short films produced by Somerset theatre-makers over lockdown.

BARN Phase 1 (2017-19) 

Phase 1 started a long-term development process to address grassroots issues arising from an historical lack of critical mass and investment. The programme featured several activity strands that included an Ideas Fund; access and business support; work in progress events; showcase platforms; and an annual BARNfest.   

A few years on, based on evidence reported by theatre-makers, companies and feedback from events such as BARNfest, Somerset’s theatre infrastructure feels healthier, more connected and better supported. But there’s always more to do! 

Download FAQs here:


For further information about BARN, contact:

Mark Helyar – Director of Theatre, Take Art


Tel: 01460 249450