Anna Herrmann. 

I work in theatre, I work in for a company called Clean Break so again it’s a company that’s coming up to celebrating its 40th anniversary next year it’s a theatre, a women’s theatre company that work with women with experience of the criminal justice system and I run the education department there.

What I see of Spare Tyre is errr is a resilient company. So what I believe is and the way that they’ve diversified the communities that they work with and found different routes in and yet kept their integrity and their heart um I see that’s what’s important so I don’t really know what they’ll be doing but I imagine, and hope, they’ll be working with communities where there is great need and creating work where there is great joy and finding a res- and being resilient and doing that because they’ve kind of had that ability to do that historically. I mean I think companies like Clean Break that I work for and like Spare Tyre that we have different, we have difficult challenges and dilemmas about how much we become business minded and generate income through our services and engage with private world and corporate world and kind of how much we do that and how much we uhh to survive and to be sustainable and to be there in forty years time. So I think when navigating umm difficult terrain to try and uhh ensure the umm continuity but I think that what’s important about companies like us is that we have strong missions and strong values and beliefs and that will be what secures our success.

I think they have a huge amount of integrity umm as a company I think the work that they do with adults with learning disabilities and with adults with dementia umm is quite unique in the field. I don’t know that there is a lot, certainly with adults with dementia I think they’re developing quite a specialism that I don’t think is replicated out there. Umm and err yeah so I think that they’ve they’ve, they’ve they’ve nurtured and developed different strands of work that are really important and significant and fill a a need. And their longevity, in a similar way to Clean Break, I think just having been in existence for forty years and committed to working with communities through theatre and and community voices I think is… gives the, gives this area of work a lot of credibility and a lot of umm and it gives it a history and a standing and a place and I think that’s, companies like Spare Tyre are really important in doing that and I think that Arti has a huge amount of umm integrity as a umm kind of artistic director now and the work that she’s doing around diversity in the company and in the industry I think is really important.

Well for me it enabled me it did enable me as a young person who wasn’t confident to find a place to have a political voice. I had a a kind of really a a commitment to err… to making a difference and do- but doing it through art felt umm felt creative it felt light and it felt like it it could connect with people and and then I think participatory arts certainly the cohort, the women that I work with, having access to their own creativity to their own power and to kind of having that umm unearthed is really just hugely hugely enabling umm it ha- it was for me, it has been for me. I see it every day for with th- with the women that I work with and I think it’s an important glue in society. I think that the more that we’re living in, disharmonious is that the right word? Dis- yeah disharmonious (laughs) times, the more conflict that there is the more… misunderstanding that there is between communities and the more marginalised some com- communities become I think partic…ipatory arts has a huge role to play in… umm helping understanding in in the helping people uhh… communicate, find passion, share stories, hear differences, learn about differences and yeah I I really believe in it wholeheartedly umm and I think it’s place… I feel very very sad the way that drama in education is being cut out of schools. I think it’s… a disgrace because I think it’s the skill that we need more and more to be able to, to umm be a community and uh the skills that you learn through drama and through taking part in the arts I think are hugely transferable and uhh important human and life skills and it up- I really find it distressing that young people are being, not being able to have that opportunity unless they’re enabled by money and privilege to seek that outside of school and go to drama clubs and stuff because it’s being so uhh lost in in education.

Spare Tyre, LEAP [Leaveners Experimental Arts Project] and Clean Break have been the three kind of anchors of my professional journey but also my personal journey and so I just, umm absolute credit to the company and to you know its existence now and its future.

Anna Hermann is joint Artistic Director of Clean Break. A theatre company working with women in the criminal justice system, Clean Break was founded in a similar time and environment to Spare Tyre.

Anna spoke to us about the importance of companies like ours retaining our strong values in order to be resilient, and how participatory arts is a tool to bring people together.