Heart n Soul grew out of working together and experimenting. Musician Mark Williams, now the Artistic Director/Chief Executive, wanted to explore new ways of music making and using art to make a difference. In 1984, he started running creative sessions with a group of people with learning disabilities including Pino Frumiento, who went to the local day service, The Mulberry Centre.
After they moved to The Albany, they re-named themselves Heart n Soul. Theatre practitioner Alix Parker joined and they started creating original shows, stories and music. The group (Original Company) made an album, toured shows within disability rights festivals in the UK and Europe and started to attract interest within the arts and disability worlds.
The Beautiful Octopus Club was created in 1995, and shortly afterwards The Squidz Club for young people was set up too. Heart n Soul carried on touring nationally and internationally to regional theatres, major festivals such as Glastonbury and to schools to deliver its education programmes.
Over the past two decades, Heart n Soul has continued to grow and develop - supporting more artists, taking on bigger projects and sharing our work as widely as possible. We have also continued to make sure that people with learning disabilities are involved in every area of our work.
As part of our 30th anniversary celebrations in 2017, we created The Big 30 archive. People with and without learning disabilities were recorded talking about their lives, creating a unique archive of learning disability culture. The Big 30 archive has been permanently added to Wellcome Collection.
See the online archive here.