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How we work

Our People

Membership of Stepping Out Theatre is open to all mental health service users and their allies. Involvement in any of our productions or activities confers membership. Our members are at the heart of what we do. We work with hundreds of people experiencing mental illness, empowering them to connect with the arts and the wider community Read more about our member's stories and our impact here.

Since 1997, Stepping Out Theatre has employed hundreds of freelance artists and service user artists working on individual productions and has also employed core payroll staff since February 2005. These staff are employed to carry out the programme of work funded by grants from the Lloyds Bank Foundation, Henry Smith Charity and the People's Health Trust. Our core payroll team are -

Steve Hennessy - CEO
Cher Douglas - Associate Director

Stepping Out Theatre became a registered charity on 12th February 2007. Stepping Out Theatre became a charitable incorporated organisation (1179310) on 24th July 2018.


The last AGM was held on 5th August 2018 at St. Werburgh's Community Centre, St. Werburgh's, Bristol. The following candidates were elected or endorsed as trustees. Trustees serve a three year period from their year of election.

Mark Breckon (Chair)
Hugh Groves (Treasurer)
Emma Stadon (Secretary)
Gareth Pitt
Danann McAleer
Sandy Walker
Eleanor Wilson

Associate Artists

Stepping Out works more closely with a small number of artists to develop their careers in theatre. At the moment these are -

Chris Loveless - Associate Director
Olivia Dennis - Associate Artist
Garth Williams - Associate Artist

Annual Reports

You can look at recent Annual Reports from Stepping Out Theatre, incorporating our Annual Accounts, by clicking on the links below.

Annual Report 2017 / 2018
Annual Report 2016 / 2017
Annual Report 2015 / 2016
Annual Report 2014 / 2015
Annual Report 2013 / 2014
Annual Report 2012 / 2013
Annual Report 2011 / 2012
Annual Report 2010 / 2011
Annual Report 2009 / 2010
Annual Report 2008 / 2009

There are a limited number of paper copies of these reports, and if you would prefer one of these, then CONTACT us.


We would like to thank all our funders for the support they give us making our work possible. Mounting high quality theatre productions, (some of them involving up to forty service users onstage, and many more in other roles), is an expensive business. The work of raising money for these productions, and for all the workshops and social activities that the group organises goes on constantly. If you would like to support the work of Stepping Out Theatre, you can donate to us directly using the DONATE button on the top of this page. Donating in this way means that Gift Aid can be claimed on donations, making them more valuable to the group.

Current funding


The Henry Smith Charity

A three year grant from the Henry Smith Charity will fund core costs and production costs up to February 2022.



The People's Health Trust

A two year grant from the People's Health Trust will help fund core costs, activity costs and a new Development Worker post up to April 2018.



Lloyds Bank Foundation

A three year grant from the Lloyds Bank Foundation will fund the Project Co-ordinator's post up until Feb 2022.



Arts Council England

The Arts Council have regularly supported individual Stepping Out Theatre projects, from 'The Power of Speech' (2001) to 'Lullabies of Broadmoor' (2011) and the musical 'Tess of the D'Urbervilles' (2014). In 2015, the Arts Council funded a record breaking four productions for the company - 'Anton's Shorts', 'The Bedminster Bigfoot', 'The Most Effective Drum' and 'The Divided Laing'. During 2017 - 18, the Arts Council funded a further four productions by the company, including Paul Mason's 'Divine Chaos of Starry Things' and an adaptation of Will Self's novel 'Great Apes'.



Ridge Property and Construction Consultants

The Bristol office of Ridge has made Stepping Out Theatre one of their Charities of the Year. Money raised by their staff team will help us fund our core activities including our flagship activity, 'The Big Show'.



John Ellerman Foundation

A three year grant from the John Ellerman Foundation will fund core costs and production costs up to February 2020.


Previous funding


The Big Lottery Fund

BIG were our largest and most important funder for 14 years with continuous funding from the Reaching Communities Fund from 2002 - 16 for core costs and salaried posts enabling the group to enjoy stability and continued growth throughout that period and right up to February 2016.



Esmee Fairbairn Foundation

EF provided crucial core funding for the group over the period of June 2010 - June 2016 which saw continuous expansion in both activities and productions throughout that period.



Comic Relief

For a five year period of 2011 - 16, Comic Relief was the biggest single funder of production costs for the company. In 2011, it funded a massive twelve week tour of the four linked 'Lullabies of Broadmoor' plays. In 2012 and 2013, it was the main funder for the large scale community plays '' and 'Hermione Steel and the Island of Lost Minds', 'Wallace Real's Ministry of Madness' and 'The Square Wheel of Time'.



Lankelly Chase Foundation

Along with the Big Lottery Fund, one of our most important funders. Steadfast support from Lankelly Chase helped the group first to survive, and then to grow and flourish for six years. Our first paid worker, the Development Worker (subsequently Project Co - ordinator) post was funded by the LankellyChase Foundation from 2007 - 13.

With the help of a grant from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, this post was upgraded to Project Co - ordinator in 2010 and this new post was funded by both foundations until 2013.



Awards for All

Additional work and productions are funded separately from other sources on a project by project basis. For instance, 'Waiting for Wilmot' (2009) and 'Lullabies of Broadmoor' (2011) were partly funded with the help of Awards for All grants.




Additional work over the period 2007 - 2009 at Fromeside Medium Secure Unit was funded by NESTA.



Stepping Out Theatre
19 Webb Court, Park Road
Bristol BS11 0FH

Registered charity - 1117912

m. 07790 980688

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