Filled with enthusiasm for community involvement in Tunbridge Wells, the Camden Road Education, Arts and Theatre Enterprise (Create) develops musical, performance and visual arts to support local arts and culture. Dave Prodrick tells Fred Latty how it helps bring people together…
Tell us how Create got started
I work at St Barnabas’ School as a family liaison and use creativity in supporting families. Create was born out of the Vanishing Elephant community play, six years ago. Two years prior to it, a steering group was formed; because of my position in the school and at the heart of the community in Camden Road, I ended up as chair pretty quickly.
And how did it develop from there?
There was a two-year process getting to the play, which involved lots of research about the Camden Road area. We had lots of families from the school in the play and everybody thoroughly enjoyed it. Afterwards, people wanted something to continue, so we had a public meeting where people put forward ideas.
How is it run and what are its aims?
We have a steering committee, of talented and open people, that oversees all we offer. There’s a huge amount of trust and a real lack of ego, which is great. We’ve got a real desire to leave egos at the door and think about the recipients of a project rather than ourselves and what we might get out of it. We all get something, but the primary function is to give as many people the opportunity to partake in culture.
What activities and events do you offer?
The first thing we set up was a community choir, which has been running successfully every year since. We had a lantern parade from the centre of town to St Barnabas’, which has become the Winter Lantern Parade, and we continue to do plays. Because of my role, we link very strongly with St Barnabas’; the advantage of bringing it to the school is, it’s a familiar setting for everyone.
Any other particular highlights?
Once a month we have a ‘nose in a book’ evening, where people bring literature on a theme. With the help of Strangeface Theatre Company, we also came up with The Imaginarium, an imagined village where people come and write stories from any period in the village’s history. It’s a deliberate choice to offer lots of different things.
What are some of the benefits of participating?
We’ve recently got a grant to explore using The Imaginarium therapeutically for people with mental health issues. I use creativity all the time in my job for people to feel comfortable talking, so rather than sitting in a counselling session, we might sit and draw and talk side by side.
Where would you like to see Create go in the future?
To increase opportunities for everybody to participate in arts and culture, in a way that doesn’t rely on them having a base knowledge or talent. We try and make everything as accessible as possible and make people feel comfortable to come and try things. There’s no guarantee you’re going to like everything, but it’s about making opportunities.
A fun choir for those who enjoy singing. It’s not a formal choral society or church choir and there are no auditions – just turn up and join in!
Nose in a book
Rather than reading alone and then discussing, Nose in a Book is about the joy of sharing favourite literature, poetry or prose and bringing them to life through performance.
Designed to encourage story-making by people of all ages, The Imaginarium is centred in and around an imaginary village, where stories can be created from any period of history (or the future) and for any character.
Claque/Create Theatre Group
Based around day-long weekend workshops, Create Theatre Group explores the art of storytelling in performance and community role play with Jon Oram, one of the leading improvisation teachers in the country.