The Hearth Centre was set up by Polly Wright in 2003, as a centre for Health, Education and the Humanities with Art at the Heart. From the start, the primary aim of the centre has been to use the arts to animate key issues in mental health, social care and the humanities, and to promote well being.
Hearth’s mission is to harness the power of the performing and literary arts to promote change through:
- Powerful and persuasive theatre to help professionals in health, social care and the criminal justice system to reflect on their practice and promote multi agency working
- Forum Theatre techniques to help audiences explore health and social care issues and promote dialogue between service users and professionals
- Reading for Well Being and creative writing to promote well being and social cohesion
All of Hearth’s work has a strong commitment to social justice and to the promotion of equality.
Who is the Artistic Director of Hearth?
Polly Wright is a theatre director, occasional performer, facilitator, writer, lecturer, and researcher. She studied at Birmingham university and the Welsh college of Music and Drama and after a short career as a professional actress, she co-founded Women and Theatre in Birmingham, where she co-wrote and performed cabaret sketches and plays. Since leaving the company and setting up Hearth she has been the sole playwright of 5 plays, all of which have been professionally produced for Hearth. Hearth has been recognized for the excellence of its work, when it was short listed for a Mind Media Award in 2008 following a tour of Northern Ireland, and Polly was short listed as a mental health hero herself in 2010. In 2011, Hearth set up a partnership with the Birmingham Repertory Theatre and the BSMHFT.
She has loved literature all her life and connects it very strongly with her own well being. She has also published 5 short stories with Tindal Street Press, and was short listed for the Birmingham Poet Laureate. Her latest story Seagulls in Sparkhill is
published in the new Tindal St Fiction Group’s anthology and will be launched at the new Library of Birmingham on October 12th 2013.
In 2007 the Hearth Centre was granted contracts to develop Reading for Well Being ( link to page) in secure and community mental health settings in Birmingham. Since 2007 she has developed the shared reading approach widely and lectures on it internationally.
Polly has taught in secondary schools and adult and higher education. She is a part time lecturer in Clinical Communication Studies and Literature and Drama in Medicine at Birmingham University. She has an Msc in Health Promotion and was commissioned by health agencies to write many studies in which drama was used as a method of social research into service provision and health perceptions. She published articles on the approach and is on the editorial board of the Arts and Health journal, Policy and Practice