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Map with markers showing where CCC projects took place across the country. Creative Newington in Ramsgate, Kent is in the north west and highlighted with a pink marker.Creative Newington is in a Big Local area in Ramsgate, Kent. The estate was built to house miners and their families in the 1950s, but the mines have long since disappeared, leaving economic challenges for many of the residents.  

Despite this, Newington is a settled estate, with many third-generation families. Although it scores poorly on local and national statistics in factors such as health, crime and anti-social behaviour, there is a strong sense of community spirit and a wealth of local knowledge. 

Here, members of the Creative Civic Change project Creative Newington share their experiences of the programme. 

Creating new experiences and broadening aspirations

Creative Newington is a Creative Civic Change project comprised of a group of residents, Big Local staff, artists and locally trusted organisations.  

We had a vision to create a bright, vibrant community, where green spaces are reclaimed, used and maintained by local people. A place where everyone can come together to enjoy building a safe and family-friendly community, and where the arts form a part of everyone’s life. 

We listened to local people and designed opportunities to attract different sections of the community. We recruited local artists and created public art. We wanted people to have access to new experiences, broaden their aspirations and live in a place they can be proud of. 

My 3-year-old and myself walked past the mosaic benches today, he was so fascinated with them. They look amazing!!! Well done to everyone that took part in it.
Mum living in Creative Newington area

How creativity changed our community

The Creative Newington project had a huge impact on the local community and open spaces.  

We were able to open a sensory garden in the estate, as well as create a community centre mural and colourful mosaic benches – all designed and produced with the help of local residents. We organised community theatre productions, youth activities, doorstep performances, cabaret classes and free family workshops for anyone that wanted to come.  

We engaged the local primary school to ensure younger people were involved in what we were doing and that children, particularly those from low-income families, had activities, workshops and trips they could be a part of in the school holidays. 

Our inclusive youth theatre group proved incredibly popular, with a high proportion of participants on the autistic spectrum, suffering from anxiety or coping with life-long physical conditions. 

From creative classes to theatre trips, all aspects of our work brought people together, producing beautiful results that brightened the community space and showcased what local talent can do working together. 

Local people were not simply ‘involved’ but were at the forefront of decisions and creative work in everything we did. 

When Ellie first joined the theatre group, I was worried her selective mutism would get in the way of her communicating and joining in, but now she is confident to read aloud and talk throughout the session. She’s always positive and happy to attend and counts down the days during the week.
Mum living in Creative Newington area

The Screaming Mary’s Club 

The Screaming Mary’s Club was set up in June 2022, open to local women aged 18+ to explore the art of cabaret and to help them build confidence. It took place in an assisted living complex for over 55s.  

On the first night, 10 women plucked up the courage to give it a try.  When we asked why they came, many said it gave them something to do away from their everyday life and was a chance to meet new people.  

Over the weeks more women joined, some even coming with walking frames, and shared their stories. One lady told us she was an alcoholic, but she hadn’t touched a drop that day as she had had something to look forward to. Another had recently split from her partner and had become isolated. She was struggling with her mental health but through the sessions she formed new friendships and grew in confidence.  

The workshops explore all forms of cabaret including burlesque, rude songs, poetry and drag. The women have come up with their own cabaret characters and personas and have all put routines together in the form they most enjoyed and wanted to explore further. 

It has been amazing to watch these ladies form new friendships and support each other. Their confidence has grown significantly, their mental health has improved and they’ve been able to grow as Individuals no matter what their age or ability. It has been inspiring for all involved. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for the Screaming Mary’s Club. 

Participants in the Screaming Mary group posing in burlesque and drag

Looking to the future

To mark the end of our Creative Civic Change journey, we’ve commissioned the creation of written case studies and professional photography to capture memories of the 2022 Roundabout Festival, a live touring theatre in a big yellow tent! 

A class of school children standing outside the yellow tent that will hold the Roundabout festival

To build on the legacy of our project, we have also commissioned and plan to deliver People United to undertake a community consultation. The aim is to provide us with an independent picture of how the Creative Newington project has impacted the community, even where people have not been directly involved in its activities. 

See a snapshot of the project in Newington