Good Stuff in St Leonards
Funding opportunities for local creative projects
By Caf Fean
Over the past six months of editing HIP’s Wellbeing page I have sought out people who are making a difference to the health and wellbeing of our community. One of the questions I asked them was: “What kept you going through lockdown?” The answer for me has been working with the team and participants on Good Stuff in St Leonards. We put in an application for funding from Creative Civic Change, which was successful.
The Good Stuff in St Leonards project is all about the community setting the agenda for creative activities in the area. Thus far we have supported the St Leonards Dance Troupe – a dance club for the over 60s; re:create – an LGBTQ drama group; All Choired Up – an LGBTQ choir; and Flexed – a group of local people supporting projects for young LGBTQ people. Lockdown meant that the dancers and drama folk transferred their activities over to Zoom, and All Choired Up had its first ever meetings online. Flexed, a young LGBTQ project team, has been formed and are busily cooking up plans for a Pride Prom in winter 2021. Many more projects are brewing, and a call-out to the community for ideas for new projects has been launched, accepting funding proposals for grants of up to £2,000 to help deliver new creative projects in St Leonards.
Good Stuff in St Leonards has absolutely ‘kept me going’ and kept my faith in community, creativity and connection in the face of adversity very much alive. As a facilitator of the various groups I have joined in dance routines from my living room, sung loudly at my laptop, laughed and cried at the incredible stories told by our drama group, and debated over how to create something meaningful for young local LGBTQ people. If you have an idea, and want to see it happen then please put ‘pen to paper’ and fill in the pitch form on the website: www.goodstuffinstlens.com
The St Leonards Dance Troupe, August 2020
PICTURE: Caitlin Lock
Current projects are all on a one-month break, and will be returning either in person or on screen, in October. Each of the projects is open to new members and the activities are free of charge. The St Leonards Dance Troupe has been busy with online performances for Posh Club* members, and has much more planned for autumn.
I asked some of the dancers to explain why it’s worth doing.
“I feel the St Leonards Dance Troupe is very much worthwhile as it has created a fun group of people who might otherwise have thought twice about joining because we have no barriers, agenda or restrictions and just love to dance and laugh, which of course is great exercise for our minds, bodies and spirits. We hope to grow and expand our group in the future to the wider community, especially, when hopefully life will return to normal soon”
“Most forms of exercise are becoming increasingly difficult. […] Forget the aching limbs. Just dancing together lifts the mind and for many adds a new lease of life”
“Inhibitions are thrown aside, restrictions on movements due to stiff joints which in many ways prevents a beautiful fluid movement to the routines doesn’t matter. […] The best part is making new friends and laughing at our mistakes. It has been so much fun.”
re:create, the LGBTQ drama group, performed a work-in-progress show live, online via Isolation Station Hastings in the midst of lockdown in May. “Previous LGBT+ drama experiences have been some of the most nourishing of my life: one of the few places where I can feel seen for who I really am. And there’s nothing like the feeling of finally seeing somebody else like me represented on stage.”
Benny Lewis, re:create Facilitator
All Choired Up is “an LGBTQ choir where I can feel comfortable to be myself” according to one participant. “Carol Prior has been a wonderful choir leader. She has given us huge energy and encouragement, helped us bond as a group, and provided us with great material. Leading sessions on Zoom must have been incredibly difficult but she has kept her sense of humour and given us great experiences.”
Good Stuff in St Leonards has absolutely kept me going, and kept my faith in community, creativity and connection in the face of adversity very much alive
Good Stuff in St Leonards is supported by local company Home Live Art, who hold the funds and are on hand to help and support the groups as they develop and grow, bringing expert advice on staging events, performance art and linking professional mentors to projects if required. The hope is that the ‘Good Stuff’ projects take on a life of their own and become self-sustaining. This project is hyper-local and all of the activity was planned to take place at St John the Evangelist’s Church Hall, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Creative Civic Change was launched in response to the Inquiry into the Civic Role of Arts Organisations by Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation with the aims of exploring a new approach to funding community-driven projects and to share experience and learning to inspire others to use the arts and creativity to make positive local change. The organisations backing it share the belief that creativity can be harnessed to engage, inspire and mobilise communities, and showcase the difference individuals can make as they develop collectively as a whole.
• If you have an idea for a creative project that will bring the community together, remember that Good Stuff in St Leonards are currently accepting proposals for grants of up to £2,000 for community projects by and for the residents of St Leonards. The deadline for applications is 6pm on Friday 18 September 2020. Visit: bit.ly/goodstuffpitch2020
• Creative Civic Change partners are: Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, National Lottery Community Fund, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and the Local Trust. Link: localtrust.org.uk/other-programmes/creative-civic-change
*The Posh Club is a glamorous performance and social club for older people held regularly in five locations across London and the South East. Visit theposhclub.co.uk/clubs/hastings
To the tune of Mambo No 5
by Gill Sutton
Dancing with girlfriends keeps my body alive,
Grapevine to the left swivel to the right,
Dancing with all friends feels alright,
A little bit of laughter here and there,
Wearing fancy baubles in our hair,
Some steps right some steps wrong,
All helped out with impromptu song,
Join our gang you’ll have such fun,
Make great friends just come along.
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