Creative Kitty, the People she works with and the Place she grew up - Wellingborough
Kitty Benford, Warts and All Theatre's Projects Associate shares her excitement on Wellingborough becoming a new Creative People and Places location and what it could mean for Young People in her hometown.
I have lived or worked in Wellingborough for almost my entire life. To say I have a strong connection to the town is an understatement. Not only did I spend my childhood and adolescence in the town, but it is also where I was given the opportunity to start my career.
Rewind to 2009- I am 14, signed up to my local youth theatre at The Castle in Wellingborough and I've just decided my GCSE choices, three of which are arts-based subjects, Drama, Media and Fine Art Studies. I was excited, the next two years would be a hoot!
The school holidays ended, and we filed into the school. Immediately it was made clear that those of us who had chosen the creative subjects were expected to change our minds or regret our decisions. And this carried on, throughout my GCSE's, into my A-levels where I was advised against taking three creative subjects. I had made up my mind by this point, I was going to university to study theatre, drama, media or something creative, and I would prove them wrong. Even my own mother asked me 'are you sure you want to study drama?'. Now, I'm not saying this plague of creative negativity is unique to Wellingborough or even Northamptonshire, but sometimes as artists we can come across a certain mentality that appears impossible to change!
Over the next ten years I would achieve high grades in the subjects I was passionate about and would constantly have to justify my high grades as being down to my knowledge and skill and not because they were 'easy' or 'soft' subjects. I went on to university to study an Undergraduate and Master’s Degree in, (you guessed it), creative subjects. Even then I would still be asked ‘when are you going to realise and get a 'proper' job?’.
Well here I am, it's 2019 and I have a 'proper' creative job. I would not be qualified or have the experience necessary without all the perseverance that the last 10 years, all the knock backs and doubt has taught me.
I have worked with young people in Wellingborough for a number of years, they are committed, honest, opinionated and brilliant. I am sometimes frustrated by decisions that adults are making, ultimately negatively impacting young people the most. From being actively discouraged from studying creative subjects by the government, to having your local theatre shut down two weeks before your final showcase of the year. It can at times feel like the importance of creativity at the centre of a community has been forgotten.
I am so thrilled that Arts Council England have awarded Made in Corby funding to expand their fabulous existing Creative People and Places programme into Wellingborough. I'm equally excited that Warts and All Theatre (where I now work with my 'proper' job) will be a delivery partner on this ambitious programme. I can't wait to be part of a project that will enrich my town with cultural activity that is driven by what the people want. Being part of that community myself, I know this major project is just what communities like Wellingborough need, and the fact the the people get to shape it. Even better!
Wellingborough finally has the chance to get back the community spirit I think it once had. I hope that this four year project will inspire other 14 year olds (and those older or younger!!) to unleash their creativity, strengthen the sense of community pride and that it inspires, enables and encourages future Wellingborough bred artists, like me.