The Future of Creativity

Recently, the Guardian published an article about arts centres and their role in social care.  The article said: “Arts centres are not only havens for artists developing work, they also deliver cost-effective social impact and creative education”.  This was not a revelation for arts organisations such as the Centre for Creativity and Enterprise here in Ashford.  In fact, we see the impact that arts and crafts are having on people’s lives every day and receive many letters from past users to tell us of how their lives have been changed for the better.

We don’t do the work we do for the gratitude but we feel appreciated and know that the arts, and creativity in general, have a positive effect on mental well being and health.  Occupational therapists recommend it to all of their service users, and so do mental health teams and counseling services purely because creativity brings people together and out of isolation, builds confidence and resilience, and communities who understand each other and have empathy for each other. Continue reading

Business networks help local business growth

 

 

Betsy working late

Me working late on a Saturday

Sitting here late at night, doing work and updating social media content, I see from my chat tab, and the many posts coming through, that my fellow self employed are working late too.  Whether it is a wise thing to do or not – and some time management gurus may suggest it’s not – more and more of my fellow creatives, makers and home run business are up all hours of the day in the spirit of driving our businesses forward.

OK so we’re starting our own revolution and it is all about making local and handmade what people buy into in our towns, or at least some people anyway.  What I’m witnessing is that it’s working, however slow and painful it may be. And what’s even more amazing is that we’ve all become each others’ helpers and marketeers … and, by definition, support networks. Continue reading

Celebrating Creative Ashford

ArtiGras @Centre for Creativity and EnterpriseBefore organising a festival, I never thought about the work that goes into it.  Last year’s Ashford Festival of Arts and Technology was an eye opener. For those who have never organised one, let me tell you that it is work that requires military precision and nerves of steel.  But we learnt a lot and I’m really glad we chose to do it.  The festival was a first, and despite not having done much promotion because of lack of enough organisers, funding and time, we managed to attract hundreds of visitors and have lots and lots of fun in the process.

So we decided to do more of them this year and the first one coming your way is ArtiGras which will take place on the 16th and 17th May in Ashford High Street.  Because we love Ashford and think it deserves the baddest festival ever, we’re throwing the biggest and best one ever yet.  But we can’t do this without you of course, residents of Ashford, community organisations, businesses and supporters.  There are already 20 or so stalls booked, amazing bands and performers on board, and lots of guys and gals making lots of amazing things to brighten the street. Continue reading

Women Give Something Back

WSGB

Women Give Something Back

When a couple of big personalities with big ideas and even bigger hearts get together to give something back, you just know something game changing is going to happen. The founders of Women Give Something Back are innovation and creativity junkies, a soft touch when it comes to seeing other women suffering and business gals with a conscience.

We know there are many women like us who care about the glass ceiling, well being and safety of women and opportunities for every girl and woman to live a happy, safe and abundant life. We know that there are many women silently suffering, needing the support and chance to make a change. Continue reading

The value of volunteers

Jane Sewell's Sally the scarecrow

Sally the scarecrow by Jane Sewell

Having worked in the third sector for over 15 years now, I’ve seen an incredible amount of volunteers working tirelessly to make a difference in their community.  However, most go unrecognised, silently changing lives and, at times, not even realising the difference they have made or the impact of their kindness.

Volunteers, ones true to the word, do not look for gratitude or recognition. It’s as though they know help is needed, and so they appear, enlist and do what is needed with passion, compassion and caring.  They do it to make a difference, however little they feel they do, because they can and they want to. And so sometimes they leave when work is done. Continue reading

Hidden arty gem in the heart of town

The Centre for Creativity and Enterprise

The Centre for Creativity and Enterprise

In the centre of Ashford, Kent, there is a quaint gallery that houses amazing pieces of art by local artists.

Although it is a little hard to find – placed in the alley way between Mecca Bingo and the Spar -, it is one of two galleries in Ashford and houses over a hundred pieces of art, a number of sculptures, glass and wood carvings.  But it isn’t just a gallery.  The Centre for Creativity and Enterprise – a social enterprise – is also a craft shop which sells items such as dolls, handbags, jewellery, cushions and all sort of lovely crafts by either local makers or produced at the Centre.  It is a business hub and offers help to individuals who are planning to start their own business or are already operating a business.  On offer are workshops, courses and a room to let, advice, networking opportunities and a whole host of services to the community, be it business, creative or anyone needing a helping hand. Continue reading

A campaign for local produce

sun bees logo A4 land links

One of Joining Hands’ schemes is a community growing project based in Ditton.  The project was developed by a young apprentice of ours, Louise Rowe-Leete, in 2011 when she was successful in securing a plot of land on the East Malling Trust patch.

For the first year or so, Louise and I spent many hours planting and growing vegetables on a small part of the land because we were fighting against weed and the sheer size of the land between the two of us and a number of wonderful volunteers – namely the fabulous Julia who also involved her whole family, young people, businesses and even a group of scouts. Much of what we grew was shared, donated and sold through connections and networks. And everyone who tasted any of the vegetables we grew was amazed at the quality and taste. Well, Louise had to leave us to go to university shortly after and, for the lack of time and enough help, I had to admit defeat and pass the work over to our new Co-ordinator, Laurence Snook. Continue reading

Rebels with a Cause

Giving to a good cause need not be a hassle in this technological era.  Yet not enough people engage with the tools on offer because we think it is perhaps not time best used.  With good causes struggling to survive, especially the smaller and more local ones, there are ways to give that reward with special gifts and others that don’t involve money at all.  So why aren’t we signing up to them? Continue reading

PR professional helping handmade win in the high street

I met Emily through social media connections and I was so happy to know that there’s someone out there who’s passionate about creativity and is keen to use her skills to help local makers and artists promote their work. Emily will be delivering a series of workshops at the Centre for Creativity and Enterprise,  the first of which is entitled How to see your products in print. I’ll keep you posted on dates.  In the meantime, here’s what Emily had to say today:

“I’m Emily and I’m a freelance craft journalist and editor. I worked in the craft publishing industry for years and I’ve seen it grow from quite a niche hobby when I first started, to one of the fastest growing industries in the mainstream market. Now it seems everyone is interested in a little piece of craft! In my time I have written about so many different disciplines – name a craft and I’ve probably covered it at some point or another! Continue reading

A Festival is brewing

An awesome festival is brewing in Ashford, Kent and you can be a part of it. It is taking over the High Street from 10am on Friday the 16th May to 6pm on Saturday 17th May, with a small break for dinner, sleep and breakfast of course.

So what is the festival about, you ask?  Well, it seems there is a large group of creatives hiding in all corners of Ashford.  Some are more boisterous and visible than others, and some just go about creating wonderful and amazing art and crafts and, on occasion, if we are lucky, we may get a glimpse of them. Well, this festival is looking for both types of creatives to make their mark on Ashford, and the planet altogether, by displaying, and most certainly selling, those wonderful creations. Yes, home made with love may be a little more expensive than the mass produced goods we purchase in town from time to time but someone put their heart and soul into making it, looked at it and thought ‘I made this’ and you buy a piece of that love, of their soul, not just a product.

Continue reading