On June 26th, Centrestage will turn 14 and we all wish that we could mark this milestone together.
However, just because we can’t be with you in person won’t stop us reminiscing with special memories over the years, sharing photos, videos and stories of the times we’ve enjoyed so far, before a very special virtual performance is streamed LIVE from the Centrestage Theatre on the evening of June 26th!
All that’s missing is stories from you!
Over the weeks ahead, Centrestage will be delivering the following services for the foreseeable future to help and support people across Ayrshire.
We will be supporting our communities with Centrestage Food and Support, Centrestage Home and Centrestage Chat in collaboration with our wider partners. At times like these we all need to work together to support and help everyone across our villages and towns stay connected, safe and well.
Earlier in the week, it was announced that Centrestage will be the delivery partner in collaboartion with Braehead Foods, funded by Marie Macklin’s, ‘Lift Up Your Hearts’ initiative. Alongside this, we will be working with Buzzworks and wider partners to deliver ‘Centrestage Food and Support’, for people across Ayrshire. To make this happen, our wee theatre at James Little Street has been transformed into a food warehouse to centralise this operation and to maximise the opportunity to have as much food available to those who need it over the months ahead.
RESPONSE TO COVID – 19
As a direct result of the Coronavirus pandemic, we are devastated to be unable to deliver many of our core activities including our classes, shows and wider activities. It is our hope that we will be able to bring them back when this situation is over, however it is unclear when that will be and to what level.
Our immediate focus is on ensuring Centrestage will still be there for people as and when they need us after the crisis and, in the meantime, we will continue to offer our support to the community through our work providing services to all who reach out to us.
We would like to thank all of you who have reached out to offer your support at this time and to those of you volunteering to help us as we respond to Covid-19.
This week, we were devastated to have to take the decision to suspend all Centrestage classes and performances in line with the government health recommendations. We continue to monitor all developments relating to Coronavirus and will keep everyone fully informed as events unfold. We know that for so many of us, our sessions are about so much more than the music so, to help us stay connected, we are launching ‘Centrestage at Home’, bringing our classes and activities to you virtually, to enjoy via mobile, laptop, tablet or TV. They can even be streamed from Facebook or our YouTube channel.
It is with heavy hearts, given the wider implications for those we serve, that we must announce that all Centrestage classes, activities and performances will have to be suspended with immediate effect. This will be regularly reviewed in line with government health recommendations and we will let you know of any changes as they develop.
Latest information for our staff and customers.
We continue to monitor information being shared in relation to Coronavirus (COVID-19) and take very seriously the health & wellbeing of our customers and staff.
As the daylight hours begin to get longer, it’s time to say, ‘Goodbye to Winter’ and ‘Hello to Spring’! It’s great to see and hear signs of Spring approaching and there are so many exciting things to look forward to this season and at Centrestage we’re in full bloom and ready…!
As part of the run-up to national supermarket Lidl’s opening of their 100th Scottish store, they’ve teamed up with Scottish Chart success KT Tunstall to bring ‘Lidl Live’ – a ‘charttopping’ tour that invites everyone from across Scotland to join them on celebrating this momentous milestone.
We were delighted to be asked by our friends at Lidl to host the singer during her Ayrshire stop of the tour to facilitate both a cooking demonstartion and live performance.
On Sunday 28th April 2020, Paul and Fiona will take on the ‘The Mighty Stride’ at the Glasgow Kiltwalk rasing funds for Centrestage. The 23 mile Kiltwalk challenge kicks off in Glasgow Green with the finishing line at the Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond.
A massive ‘Happy New Year’ from everyone at Centrestage, we hope that your Christmas was #Magical with all your family and friends and we very much look forward to welcoming you back, or even for the first time, to Centrestage this year.
So, what do we have planned for 2020? Well, it’s a big year for us as we make the move to our new home ‘Centrestage Village’ later in the year when we will bring all our projects together, creating a ‘place with the arts at the heart’ and welcoming many new neighbours and partners to join the ‘Village’ community.
We are delighted to announce the appointment of Paul Mathieson as our new CEO following the transition of Fiona McKenzie to the role of Founder.
Fiona and Paul established Centrestage in 2006 and since then have both worked with energy and passion to deliver their vision of a place where anyone can come regardless of age, background and experience.
On Tuesday 26th November 2019 our Founder, Fiona McKenzie, will be recognised with an Honorary Degree from Glasgow Caledonian University for her outstanding contribution to leadership development in young people through the arts and community.
The annual winter graduation takes place within the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall as the University brings together students from across the campus to celebrates the individual and collective achievements from the academic year. The graduation also provides the platform to recognise individuals who champion positive activity within their chosen profession.
Over £6,000 was raised at the '30 Hour Piano Playathon' charity fundraising event in aid of three very special charities - Ayrshire Hospice, Centrestage and the Swanson Family Charity. Held at Tesco Extra in Irvine, many musical pianists came together to play for 30 consecutive hours bashing out some well-known hits on the keys. A total of £6,696 was raised and will be divided between these local charities.
We are privileged to welcome, work with and support over 2000 participants across Ayrshire each week at Centrestage. Our 2018/ 2019 ‘Impact Report’ shares the numbers and statistics, but more importantly, tells the stories of those who engage across our activities from Catalyst to Creative Learning each day. Driven by our vision, we continue to champion our approach of using the arts to bring people together, creating energetic and inclusive communities.
We are excited to partner with ‘WorkingRite’ who support 16-24 year olds across Scotland with paid work experience and employment opportunities. The initiative is funded by the Hunter Foundation and the project combines the knowledge and experience of both organisations to create a unique, holistic employability support service to young people aged 16-24 years.
We’re delighted to announce that our ‘Aspire’ activity has been awarded a three-year grant of £75,249 to continue our delivery of Creative Learning classes to children and young people with additional support needs, helping them make friends, improve their self-esteem and teach them new skills. Awarded by BBC Children in Need, it will help make a difference to the lives of children and young people right here in Kilmarnock and surrounding areas.
On Friday 6th September, the Centrestage Café/ Bar took part in the nationwide ‘Big Scottish Breakfast’ in aid of our friends at the STV Children’s Appeal. We joined many others from across Scotland, getting together for a fun breakfast to raise money for Scotland’s children.
With breakfast being the most important meal of the day, our menu was packed full, from continental to a tasty Scottish fry-up, we had something for everyone to get set up for the day ahead. It was lovely to welcome so many folks from across our activities and communities on the day and a massive thanks to our wonderful #oneteam who made it all possible, raising a total of £293.55 for the STV Children’s Appeal.
We are so thankful to the Swanson family for selecting Centrestage as one of their chosen beneficiaries from the ‘30 HOUR PIANO PLAYATHON’ fundraising event, coming to Tesco, Irvine this Autumn.
The ‘30 HOUR PIANO PLAYATHON’ will help raise funds for three charities - Ayrshire Hospice, Centrestage and the Swanson Family Charity - in memory of Ron & Mary Swanson SCIO.
This charity fundraising event will take place at Tesco Extra, Irvine on Friday 18th October 2019 commencing at 10am and finishing on Saturday 19th October 2019 at 4pm.
On Friday 6th September, the Centrestage Café/ Bar will take part in the nationwide ‘Big Scottish Breakfast’ in aid of our friends at the STV Children’s Appeal. We are joining schools, businesses and community groups across Scotland, getting together for a fun breakfast to raise money for Scotland’s children.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so kickstart your morning with us on Friday 6th September from 9am – 11am and enjoy a tasty breakfast from cereal, fruit, toast, tea/ coffee or a delicious bacon roll - we’ve got it covered!
On Sunday 18th August we held our final ‘Open Day’ at James Little Street as we welcomed old and new friends to come together and enjoy an action-packed day full of all things fun, food and folk. The annual ‘Open Day’ has always been a highlight of the Centrestage events calendar, bringing all of our activities and communities together, sharing stories, enjoying loads of activity, and providing the platform to launch our new term ‘Creative Learning’ programme.
‘Creative Learning’ is at the heart of everything we do at Centrestage and is open to all ages and abilities, we have something for everyone to enjoy from beginners to advanced, toddlers to grannies (and grandads!) Our extensive program includes classes in Musical Theatre, Dance Theatre, Acting, Vocal, Additional Support Needs and Pre-School. No audition is required, and now is the best time to start at the beginning of term. This will be our final Autumn term at James Little St. as this time next year we will have moved to our new home at ‘Centrestage Village’ – it’s going to be incredible!
What a Summer season we’ve had at Centrestage this year with our #yestosummer campaign, with all of our activities delivering an action-packed programme from Connect to our On The Road team, not forgetting our hit production of ‘All Shook Up’- remember that...?! Also, our incredible Summer camps and our ‘Try It’ creative learning classes too, we’ve had so much fun and it’s been wonderful to have so many of you with us.
Now for the annual ‘Big Summer Finale’, the celebrated Centrestage ‘Open Day’. Let’s come together on Sunday 18th August from 11am – 3pm at James Little St. for the final time and join in on all the #funfoodfolk shenanigans.
What an incredible ‘Spring Season’ we have had here at Centrestage filled with everything #funfoodfolk! As we enter the Summer holidays, all Creative Learning classes will finish on Saturday 22nd June and resume the week beginning Monday 19th August for our exciting Autumn term (we cannot wait.) Our #oneteam will be speaking with everyone this week about re-registering for Autumn.
But don’t worry, we have plenty of activity planned this Summer season at Centrestage.
The Healthy Working Lives award programme helps organisations identify issues and improve health, safety and wellbeing in a structured and productive way. Open to any size of business, we’ve been working with the ‘Healthy Working Lives’ team since Autumn of 2018, implementing various initiatives that support the overall health and wellness of our Centrestage #oneteam. This has resulted in achieving our ‘Healthy Working Lives Bronze Award.’
The formation of our ‘Arts of Wellbeing’ group has driven activities across the charity including our first dedicated #oneteam wellbeing day that brought together various partners from NHS to Westfield Health with the objective of providing everyone with the opportunity to obtain current information on how to live a healthier life from exercise, diet to mindfulness.
Barclays Bank arrived in Kilmarnock on Tuesday 11th June, selecting Ayrshire College, Kilmarnock campus as the location for the launch of their ‘Building Thriving Local Economies’ initiative.
The event, hosted by Barclays is the second of four pilot schemes the bank has planned around the UK, having launched its first initiative in Bury, Greater Manchester, last year. Local Cllr Elaine Whitham, Dr Marie Macklin, CBE and Barclays Global CEO, Jes Staley all shared their thoughts, vision and expected outcomes of the unique partnership with the town.
The first international conference on the ‘Place Standard’ tool was held by NHS Health Scotland on 10th – 11th of June in Glasgow, in association with; The Scottish Government and Architecture and Design Scotland, the World Health Organisation and the European Healthy Cities Network.
The two-day conference supports the implementation of the WHO “Roadmap to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, building on Health 2020, the European policy for health and well-being.”
At Centrestage we love our fresh air, and to keep it that way, we now operate a ‘Smoke Free Zone’ at all of our sites across Ayrshire. At Centrestage we are committed to providing a safe and healthy environment for everyone, and our policy has been developed to protect all employees, volunteers, participants and customers from exposure to second-hand smoke and to assist compliance with ‘The Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Act 2005’ and The ‘Prohibition of Smoking in Certain Premises (Scotland) Regulations 2006.’
To say we are ‘over the moon’ is an understatement as we picked up ‘Scotland’s Best Theatre’ at the Scottish Hospitality Awards 2019 on Tuesday 21st May at the annual awards ceremony, held at the Crown Plaza in Glasgow.
Nominated by our incredible customers, the annual awards recognise the businesses and individuals within the Scottish Hospitality sector that go above and beyond to give their customers a truly unique service. Craig Hunter, Centrestage Operations Manager, Arts and Venue who attended the ceremony said, “We are so delighted that our wonderful Centrestage customers made this possible by taking the time to share their Centrestage experiences. We can’t wait to share this news with them.”
On Sunday 28th April 2019 thousands of people took to the streets of Glasgow for the ever popular Kiltwalk 2019 and what an incredible day it was!
This is the fourth year we’ve taken part in the event and it continues to be such an important day for our #oneteam, participants and partners to come together and walk with us, helping raise funds that enable us to deliver our Centrestage activities to more folks across Ayrshire.
This year it was all about ‘Feeling Keen’ and walking with us in 2019 and 246 folks did just that by taking on either the Wee Wander, Big Stroll or the 23-mile Mighty Stride on the day. Our Centrestage Ambassadors represented all of our activities from Aspire to Connect and we thank each and every one of them for getting behind the challenge and sharing their own personal Centrestage stories.
Back in Winter, 2018 we supported Chris Baraniuk, a U.K. journalist who was writing an article for Mosaic https://mosaicscience.com/ about the impact of food poverty / malnutrition on public health. Chris reached out to Centrestage to find out more about our unique ‘Centrestage Food’ approach through Dignified Food Provision.
Our #oneteam are overjoyed with the news that our incredible customers have nominated us for an award under the ‘Best Theatre in Scotland’ category at this year’s Scottish Hospitality Awards 2019’. The annual celebration takes place on Tuesday 21st May at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Glasgow. The awards, now in there forth year recognise the hard-working businesses and individuals within the Scottish Hospitality sector that go above and beyond to give their customers a truly unique service.
On Friday the 22nd of February we opened the doors to the Centrestage Theatre and launched our Kiltwalk campaign for 2019. Hosted by our very own Jonny Griffin, the event provided the platform to update everyone on our Centrestage Bus that we all walked for last year, in addition to hearing from some of our 2019 Kiltwalk Ambassadors from across our Centrestage activities. Our CEO, Fiona McKenzie also took the opportunity to share the incredible news on the official completion of the Asset Transfer of Kilmarnock Academy to Centrestage, a massive milestone in the legacy project.
On Wednesday the 20th of February 2019 all aspects of the Kilmarnock Academy Asset Transfer were concluded, and we’ve now taken full ownership of this iconic site - what will be our new home ‘Centrestage Village’.
We are so grateful to everyone at the Scottish Government, East Ayrshire Council, The Hunter Foundation and to the many others that have worked so hard to advise and support us throughout this entire process.
We are all so excited about the next chapter of this incredible journey together!
Centrestage form part of the research published within the ‘Creating Wellbeing in Communities Report’ by SENSCOT. The Briefing aims to demonstrate the existing contribution of social enterprise in improving health and wellbeing via social and community activities – and to highlight the valuable role social enterprise can provide in working with others to address these complex challenges.
This paper is part of a series of SENSCOT Briefings which aim to showcase the approach that social enterprise is taking to address complex social issues across Scotland. This Briefing focuses on the role of social enterprise in improving health and wellbeing via a wide range of social and community activity.
The Kiltwalk is the biggest fundraising event in the Centrestage calendar and our #oneteam, communities and partners look forward to it every year.
Back in 2016, just 29 folks walked with us but last year over 358 folks spent Sunday 29th April walking across all three routes, with a hardy team also walking the Mighty Stride and Big Stroll in Edinburgh, all helping fundraise for the Centrestage Bus, which will allow us to bring isolated folks together from across Ayrshire to enjoy everything #funfoodfolk.
Thanks to your generosity and support with Kiltwalk 2018, donations were received amounting £18,058 and, with the incredible 40% top up received from The Hunter Foundation, our overall total was £25,281.
We’re delighted to announce our forthcoming performance in collaboration with the Ayrshire Fiddle Orchestra this Spring at the Grand Hall, Kilmarnock.
The Ayrshire Fiddle Orchestra’s aim is to encourage and develop Scots Fiddle Music among local young musicians and this unique partnership will showcase a varied and popular selection of music across the evening including performances by Centrestage’ s very own ‘Gospel & Soul Choir’ and the ever popular ‘Unlikely Lads’.
Fiona McKenzie CEO at Centrestage said, “It’s going to be such a special gathering in such a special place in Kilmarnock and we are all very much looking forward to performing with the young talented musicians on the night.”
Scotland’s No.1 magazine celebrates everything that Scottish women stand for and their ‘Amazing Woman Awards’ return for a second year on the 7th of March 2019, held in the Old Fruitmarket Glasgow, the day before International Women’s Day.
‘Amazing Community Contribution’ recognises individuals who go above and beyond to deliver positive outcomes across their communities and we are delighted to see Fiona recognised in this category.
Creative Learning is at the heart of everything we do at Centrestage and our 2019 programme has something for everyone. Open to all ages and abilities, beginners to advanced…. toddlers to grannies (and grandads!) Our extensive program includes classes in Musical Theatre, Dance Theatre, Acting, Vocal, Additional Support Needs and Pre-School, with classes delivered across the week to help fit in with busy lives.
No audition is required, and you can join a class at any time throughout the year. Our various Creative Learning classes all have associated production outcomes that are presented in our very own Centrestage Theatre.
A week to remember as fifty of our Eat & Train candidates graduate in style with a delicious three-course festive themed dinner, prepared by themselves and enjoyed with invited family and friends. Our Award Winning, Eat & Train, a twelve-week cooking programme is delivered across Ayrshire by qualified chefs from our ‘On the Road’ team to a maximum of eight people. Launching earlier in the year, Eat & Train teaches the basics of food hygiene and cooking from chopping vegetables to preparing a three-course meal on the final week. Candidates work towards receiving the level two food hygiene certificate and the basic cooking certificate which is given on the final week.
We’ve launched our 2018 Christmas campaign and this year the theme is centred around being ‘Together this Christmas’. At Centrestage our vision of ‘building energetic and inclusive communities with the arts at the heart is realised by bringing people together through our #funfoodfolk methodology; using food and the arts to first bring people of all ages and experiences together, providing the conduit to those furthest outside community to access the support they need; then providing the sense of belonging and purpose that allows people to come together, promoting positive health and wellbeing, connecting the isolated and providing positive, aspirational activities that are accessible to everyone, regardless of background.
Back in early November on a crisp Autumnal afternoon, our Centrestage #oneteam and various project participants arrived at our new home, Kilmarnock Academy to take part in the filming of our first ever Centrestage Christmas ad. It’s now time to let you all see it...https://youtu.be/ARxyJ10alRE
Enjoy! We look forward to seeing you all this Christmas.
On Monday 26th of November 2018 Jim Todd, Provost of East Ayrshire invited winners and finalists from this year’s West FM Cream of Ayrshire Awards to celebrate and recognise their achievements at East Ayrshire Council Headquarters on London Road.
The annual Cream of Ayrshire Awards recognise heroes and celebrates success across Ayrshire communities with West Sound & West FM listeners nominating people and organisations across various categories.
Introduction from Fiona McKenzie, Centrestage, CEO, “This year-end, more than any other in our 12 year history, marks new beginnings for Centrestage. In 2006 our mission statement for Centrestage was very clear: 'that anyone - regardless of age, ability, background or experience - can gain life changing social benefits through active participation in the arts, particularly music, drama and dance.'
Over a decade later, the 'What Works Scotland' report described our work as: “Radical inclusiveness, entailing a non-judgmental attitude and ongoing efforts to reach out to excluded groups and individuals. We interpret this as manifestation of “unconditional positive regard" for others which creates a foundation for relationship-building and reciprocity.”
As we move forward, we will continue to promote the power of unconditional positive regard, or love, for making a difference to the lives of the most vulnerable across our community. And we will not just talk about it. We must do it, with intention, across every aspect of our organisation.
Our Centrestage team picked up six awards at the Scottish Mentoring Network Awards on Tuesday 6th November at the ceremony held in Edinburgh. The annual awards are designed to acknowledge mentoring projects and individuals that have made a significant impact over the past year across Scotland. Our Catalyst, Eat & Train projects and team were awarded the following:
Highly Commended Employee: Melanie McLean
Commended Mentor: Mich Brooks
Commended Employee: Craig Ferrell
Highly Commended Mentor: Jim Davis
Commended Project: Eat & Train
Highly Commended Project: Catalyst
On Thursday 4th October at the Park Hotel, Kilmarnock our CEO, Fiona McKenzie was recognised at ‘The Cream of Ayrshire Awards’ winning the ‘Unsung Hero’ category, sponsored by North, East and South Ayrshire Councils.
The annual awards recognise heroes and celebrates success across Ayrshire communities with West Sound & West FM listeners nominating people and organisations across various categories. We all know that Fiona champions opportunities for everyone and over the past twelve years has built an incredible Charity that now welcomes over 2500 participants per week. On receiving the award Fiona said, “sincere thanks to everyone who was part of making this happen, I’m so grateful to have such an incredible #oneteam at Centrestage and to be part of such a wonderful Ayrshire Community.”
Well done to the finalist and winners on the night and thanks to everyone who voted. For all winners and full picture gallery from celebratory bash, follow the link…