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Map with markers showing where CCC projects took place across the country. Good stuff in St Leonards in St Leonard's, East Sussex is on the south coast and highlighted with a pink marker.St Leonard’s is a bustling coastal town in East Sussex. Initially created in 1827 as a brand-new seaside resort for the wealthy, by the 1930s the town had fallen out of fashion.

Today St Leonards is an area of contrasts. There are high levels of unemployment and poverty but also a rich culture of artists, musicians and writers. Underlying all this is a shared sense of social capital, where people care about the wellbeing of others and are politically and socially engaged.

Here, members of the Creative Civic Change project Good Stuff in St Leonards share their experiences of the programme. 

Crowdsourcing creativity

Good Stuff in St Leonards is a creative programme of projects in St Leonards, designed and led by local residents and facilitated by local arts charity Home Live Art. It is a celebration of the diversity of our community both creatively and culturally. Projects were developed from a public consultation alongside an open-call for residents to submit ideas and dreams of what they wish to happen creatively in our town.

Projects have included a senior’s dance club, an LGBTQ+ drama group, an exhibition of local Black artists and a large-scale public artwork designed by and for the people of St Leonards. Each group has come together to create positive change in our community and to feel proud of where we live – building a community that is creating, reflecting, thinking, listening, giving, receiving and learning.

I got to know new people and made new friends, I love seeing passers-by interact with the project and I feel very proud to be part of something so beautiful that I genuinely believe makes our town a better place.”
Painting the Prom participant

How creativity changed our community 

We supported twenty resident-led projects including, ‘Playing the Race Card’ a town-wide conversation on race  through a powerful and inspiring exhibition of work by local Black artists presented in our shared group space.

We funded ‘Painting the Prom’, a joyous and unique public artwork on the St Leonards promenade made up of seventeen murals designed by local artists and residents (aged 5-75); ‘One Foot in the Groove’, a weekly dance club of passionate non-professional dancers aged 65+; ‘All Choired Up’, a friendly and free Choir for the local LGBTQ+ community and ‘Remote…Local’, a space for young migrants to think about what local means to them, culminating in a published Zine.

Being part of the dance troupe has been such a great experience in many ways. 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. We do what we can and hope for the best.  The best part is making new friends and laughing at our mistakes. It has been so much fun.”
One Foot in the Groove dance club member

Andrew’s story

Andrew joined ‘All Choired Up’ looking for an opportunity to sing and be in community with fellow LGBTQIA+ people. Starting in early 2020 no one in the choir could have imagined the lifeline that meeting weekly on Zoom would be – they got to know each other, learnt songs and talked about music.

Mural with the words 'Our differences don't have to divide us'

Andrew’s confidence grew through the screen which only continued to reach new harmonies when the group were able to practice in person – all leading up to a grand performance at Hastings Pride.

Being involved in the project helped Andrew connect with community through lockdown but also supported him in finding his singing voice and flair for performance. He has since gone on to perform in his town’s enactment of ‘Calendar Girls’, and is now taking the lead on developing an LGBTQIA+ drama group in Hastings.

The room was filled with such an exciting energy. As someone who has been born and raised in Hastings in a Black Jamaican family, this was a very positive experience in my hometown!”
Playing the Race Card attendee  

Looking to the future

Our legacy is far-reaching in the ways it has brought about tangible changes to the town and all the participants that have been involved in Good Stuff in St Leonards. The projects were a source of connection and creativity through COVID-19 and many of the relationships, networks and projects continue to grow.

Our ambition is to find ways to continue to support the community’s projects as they develop and inspire others, by leveraging our learnings, connections and dedication to bringing people together to make a lasting difference locally.

See St Leonards Paint the Prom