Artistic hub returns to help revive Tonbridge High Street

What the garden looked like before
CREATIVE FORCES The pop-up shop was filled with original art and workshops in the spring

The inaugural ‘creativity revolution’ proved a great success in the spring, showcasing the talents of local artists and encouraging the community to be involved.
It is the brainchild of Louise Knight, who said: “Tonbridge Creates is on a mission to show off Tonbridge’s rich artistic and creative community.
“It wants to prove that if you support your creative community, you can bring vitality and people back to a town’s High Street.”
The shop, at 2 Angel Walk until December 19, will be offering original arts and crafts for sale and also provide a variety of free and paid-for events and workshops, featuring sewing, pottery painting, lino cut, felt-making and drop-in children’s drawing sessions.
Mrs Knight added: “I have seen first-hand how the people of the town are avid supporters of music and the arts.
She and her friend Fiona Sharp set up The Wheels on Debussy two years ago to present concerts by children and train them as musicians.
The first Tonbridge Creates was held over an eight-week period in February to April. Supported by Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council, Mrs Knight wanted to show how using empty retail spaces and supporting local arts can be combined.
Nicolas Heslop, the council’s Leader, is looking forward to the project having a positive impact on the town centre.
“We are delighted to be partnering up again with Tonbridge Creates to bring this fantastic pop-up shop to the town,” he said.
“With high streets evolving from purely retail destinations to places that people also go to meet up and socialise, engage in community events, and take part in leisure activities, this initiative is a great way of helping Tonbridge High Street along on that journey.”
Tonbridge Creates is also in partnership with West Kent College, working with the students to bring their art to the local community.
Clare Roach, Head of Faculty for Creative Studies at West Kent, said: “This is a fantastic project that promotes both our High Street and the amazing and diverse creative community in Tonbridge.
“The Art Department at West Kent College is thrilled to be involved, as this allows us to promote the talents of our students, whilst working within the heart of our community.”
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