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Map with markers showing where CCC projects took place across the country. Creative Kingswood and Hazel Leys is in Corby, in the midlands and highlighted with a pink marker.Kingswood and Hazel Leys are housing estates in Corby, East Midlands. Once a small village, Corby flourished into a new town to accommodate the arrival of the steel works, but since their demise in the 1980s, the town has faced huge economic challenges, leading to large areas of deprivation and increasingly vulnerable communities.

About the project

Our aim was to help restore and strengthen our local community through the power of the arts.

We are a collective of organisations and individuals who live and work in Kingswood and Hazel Leys estates, which includes KHL Big Local, Made With Many, Corby Community Arts, The Core Theatre and artist Heather Peak.

Our project, Creative Kingswood and Hazel Leys, is about providing creative opportunities for people who live in the local area to help facilitate Creative Civic Change.


How creativity changed our community

With the help of funding from Creative Civic Change, we have been able to develop a programme of participation activities and commissions for the local community. These include open mic poetry nights, creative workshops, shed meetings, street art projects, filmmaking sessions and four community murals.

The success of our initial activities led to an interest in cultural visits outside of Corby, so we arranged trips to The Paint in Leicester, Wakefield Sculpture Park and Skegness Arts Festival, amongst others. The trips were all with members of the community that would not have previously considered making such a trip, and they opened our eyes to what is possible for our community. There is creativity everywhere and that’s what we try to remind people. Every day may not be good, but there can be something good in every day.

A group holding a handmade sign that says 'Creative Civic Change'

Even when lockdown hit, we managed to keep our creative projects alive via Zoom. Leading on from our hugely successful online open mic nights, we co-created a poetry book with poems and pictures from across the community. 3,500 books went out to the two estates, partners and supporters. The feedback has been fantastic.

We take every opportunity we can to engage with the community, in person or online and we even have a WhatsApp group.  We might talk about books, film or radio, other times it could be a discussion about Twitter or TikTok. It all gets mixed into what we know about our community and what’s going on.

The journey has been a joy and I want it to continue.”
Anne Smith

George’s story

Local resident George Hill is a member and co-chair of our group. He has always had a liking and a leaning towards creating art in many different ways including drawing, photography and writing. Recently, at the age of 60, spurred on by his involvement in Creative Kingswood and Hazel Leys, George gave up his full-time job to embark on self-employment as an artist and community development specialist.

George is creating a body of work which upcycles random objects and furniture, giving them a new lease of life with his unique brand of art. Renowned artist and friend of the project, Heather Peak is mentoring George and they are now collaborating on a podcast programme.

George said that being involved in Creative Kingswood and Hazel Leys has been a wonderful journey for him. He said he’s proud to be part of the group as well as the connections he’s made and what they’re doing.

“I’m optimistic, realistic and passionate. I know that something like writing a poem, or getting a craft pack can change a person’s day and for me that’s a result – that hopefully changes their week, their month and their year.

George Hill

Looking to the future

To celebrate three successful years of Creative Civic Change funding, we are embarking on a podcast series called ‘Don’t Get Any Ideas’ featuring fellow projects from the programme. We will be travelling around the UK exploring the changes other Creative Civic Change programmes have made in their local communities and the artistic legacies they have created.

Our legacy is our involvement and partnership with the Creative Kingswood and Hazel Leys (KHL) Community Workshop, which has been positive and will continue. We are also working on a fundraising strategy to continue providing much-needed creative opportunities for people who live in Kingswood and Hazel Leys.