Ann Akin started her community interest company, Harts Theatre Company, with the help of a £3,200 Start Up Loan. Harts Theatre Company uses performing arts to engage young people and empower them a voice to create social change.
Ann Akin is a professional actress, writer, choreographer and director. She attended the Sylvia Young Theatre School and the Brit School, and has since gone on to have a successful acting and writing career.
Harts Theatre Company run after school drama classes for 4-19 year olds. These classes are designed to develop their performance skills, and consist of games, team building exercises and confidence boosting tasks. Harts Theatre Company also offer mental health awareness classes for young people to educate them on mental health issues.
These classes are based around one of Ann’s own productions, Norma?, which she developed after experiencing mental health issues within her family. The class involves showing a clip of the production to students and inviting them to discuss the issues covered and take part in role-playing exercises designed to give them an insight into the effects of mental health issues.
Following the success of the theatre company in south London where they have the support of Wandsworth council and the charity Young Lambeth Co-Op, Ann moved into North London which had seen massive cuts to government services.
Ann has also launched two new festivals. The first is a festival for emerging writers, in collaboration with Hammersmith’s Lyric Theatre and funded by the Arts Council, that provides young writers with support and mentoring, as well as the chance to have their piece performed by a professional company of actors.
Her second festival, Am I Normal, is a mental health festival run by the Harts Theatre Company, and celebrates people talking about mental illness and its effect on our lives. The Theatre works with the NCS and encourages young people to get involved.
Ann’s business is going from strength to strength, and she is currently to secure the long-term sustainability of her business through sponsorship and further funding grants.
Ann currently works from a permanent office desk in Haggerston and employs a number of staff, including a general manager, bookkeeper, and project based marketing and press managers.