Young Creative Leaders in Hastings – Year 2

Building on last years’ YCL project, and supported by Hastings Borough Council and Culture Shift, 15 young people worked together outside school to produce a local arts event. The project aimed to develop young people’s creative leadership skills and involvement in the cultural life of the town and contribute to broader cultural regeneration ambitions locally.

Who was involved

  • Young people from Helenswood School, Parkwood Sixth Form, Sussex Coast College, and Sussex Downs College
  • Creative practitioners: Allie West from Intrepid Theatre with mentors John Knowles, Ali Graham, Andrew Moran and Peter Quinnell
  • Others: Hastings Borough Council, Hastings Youth Bank, Word County


How can young people (14-21) help shape arts programming in Hastings?


  • To coordinate, support and motivate young people aged 14 – 21 to develop the YCL programme, culminating in events to be programmed as part of Word County
  • To create opportunities for young people to pursue Bronze and Gold Arts Award as part of the project
  • To design a programme that allows young people to engage their peers through consultation and programmed events
  • To lever in additional funding and for YP to source additional funding
  • To identify and work with the arts infrastructure and appropriate networks in Hastings


The young people’s arts programme celebrating the written and spoken word was a great success, including a reworking of Hansel and Gretel as a promenade piece in the crypt of St Mary’s-in-theCastle, and an event at Waterstones in Priory Meadow to engage a younger audience.

Several young people achieved Arts Award. The project received funding through a number of different sources: Creative Partnerships legacy fund, Word County – a pan county focus on written and spoken word, Art in New Spaces, Hastings Youth Bank, and a Hastings Borough Council fund to encourage art in non-traditional spaces.

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Last weekend was a spectacular one for the young of Hastings. I particularly enjoyed the interpretation of Hansel and Gretel at St Mary-in-the-Castle put on by a group of teenagers and Hastings Young Creative Leaders, carefully guided and mentored by Creative Partnerships… I went to Hansel and Gretel expecting a gentle children’s fairy tale. Wrong! It was almost as frightening as The Hunger Games, particularly as the show was done by moving the audience round different scenes in narrow, eerie corridors of St Mary-in-the-Castle. It was a confident and unsettling depiction of two lost children falling prey to a wicked adult. The young actors did a convincing job and the sets were original and effective.

Amber Rudd MP for Hastings and Rye, Hastings Observer, 6 April 2012

Everything came together creatively, it was so exciting. Achieving my Arts Award Gold feels amazing! It was a lot of work, but all really worthwhile.

Gold Arts Award Leader

My friends, family and my drama teacher, Mr Whitehead said I was fantastic, that was really exciting.

Young person

The actors were a credit to everyone on the night, and the set looked effective and there was a great atmosphere with the YCLs even running front-of-house.

John Knowles, Live Theatre