Funding level: £10,001 to £25,000


We are York’s leading performance company for adults with learning disabilities, now in our 10th year with currently 13 actors and keen on welcoming many more. We produce high quality, innovative and reputable productions that are engaging and accessible for both the actors and the audience. Working with professional theatre makers, we have created and performed adaptations of Shakespeare, Chaucer and Sophocles. We also offer user-led training workshops and resources, from communication skills to understanding hate-crime with people with learning disabilities.

Our aims are twofold:

1. Provide a supportive and challenging learning environment for adults with learning disabilities, in the area of performing arts.
2. Use theatre as a platform for social intervention in the community; raising awareness of the wants, dreams, concerns and capabilities of adults with learning disabilities.

We have delivered performances and workshops to university students, secondary schools, occupational therapists, nursing students, care providers, police services, council members and local MPs, and to people with disabilities and their families.

We are proud of our achievements and are eager to make this supportive environment sustainable, to reach out to all people in York with learning disabilities, and raise awareness in the community about the real-life experience of learning disabilities.
2 Year Business Redevelopment

2018 brings a number of difficulties, but also some potentially exciting opportunities. A cut in funding and change in how learning-disabled advocacy is supported and governed nationally, will make it hard for us to operate in our current fashion.

To move forwards, we have decided to rebrand and remodel the company, so that we can be independent, sustainable, accessible and have the greatest impact.

We envisage using the funding for a two-year redevelopment phase that will include these aims and outputs:

New Performances (£6000)
• To produce 4 new performances that tackle prominent current issues for adults with learning disabilities, including parenting with a disability, hate-crime, adoption, education and sexuality. Areas that are still classed as taboos in relation to learning disabilities and are not spoken about enough, especially from the aspect of true lived experience.

Engagement (£5000)
• To engage with larger audiences and a more diverse cross-section of the community. To get our work and messages across to not only as many people as possible, but in specific areas where high need or potential impact has been identified. We will take our work to people, touring and creating high quality, multimedia resources that can reach beyond the geographical capabilities of the company. This 2 year plan aims to engage in excess of 500 people.

Sustainability (£7000)
• The current funding from individuals’ personal budgets help to run the company. This however, is not sustainable or reliable long term, so a strategy to replace this must be implemented. In the short term, the Aviva Community Fund would cover the cost of participation for those without a personal budget, and in the long term have no dependency on individuals financial positioning. We want to grow our team and welcome new members to participate in the work we do.

Development (£7000)
• Enable us to contract professional administration and business support, securing premises and funding sources: long term funding bids and contracts, and revenue from performances and workshop delivery.
• Work with a professional director and other artists to develop our skills and refine our training and marketing materials. It will ensure that our team are confident, and the training packages remain current, engaging and impactful and marketed to the correct groups and organisations.

Overall, we want Once Seen to be known nationally as a leading theatre company for adults with learning disabilities, who are doing great things in York!

Project Video

Once Seen Theatre Company

Moment of Pride

Being part of Once Seen means that I don’t feel that I have a disability, I’m seen as an actor and respected. It gives me a challenge, a purpose, an opportunity to learn, a voice and lend meaning to my life.

It gives an opportunity to be someone else for a while and forget about our problems!

Location: York