Looking back on the year always makes us appreciate how many artists and young people have been involved in our journey throughout the year, but 2023 has certainly been a year of great change and development for the charity.
Here are just a few of the milestones that have taken place…
In January 2023 we received the keys to FUSEBOX after several months of building work to establish the space as a flexible, multi-arts space. It’s hard to believe that the space changed so much between summer 2022 and Jan 2023!
There were still some outstanding building and public realm projects for the first few months we occupied the space, so we made the most of this time to test what FUSEBOX could be used for – inviting as many local residents, artists and young people as possible to come and explore and challenge the venue’s potential. In the first 6 months, we gave over 200 tours, held several exhibitions, public events, meetings and performances that covered a wide range of artforms.
One of the early highlights of our pilot programme was our monthly Creative Sparks nights, programmed by Chiyana Ankhrah, which celebrated a different artform each month. Themes included Music, Spoken Word, Performance and Visual Arts and these nights gave us the opportunity to connect with new artists and welcome our first audiences into the venue. We’re delighted to share that we will be continuing Creative Sparks events in 2024 and tickets are on sale now.
Several months and many events later, we were thrilled to officially launch FUSEBOX on 7 July 2023 with a visit from our President, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh KG GCVO alongside many partners and supporters.
FUSE International 2023
The launch of FUSEBOX took place during FUSE International 2023, and this year’s festival provided a fantastic opportunity to test our new venue for festival performances. FUSEBOX became our Fringe venue, successfully welcoming comedy, theatre and music performances for the 10 days.
We were also thrilled to bring a huge international show to Kingston as part of FUSE this summer: WILD (the Musical) by City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong. WILD featured a cast and crew of 70+ that flew into Kingston for 3 epic performances at Rose Theatre and the FUSE performances marked the UK-premiere. Amongst the 3 shows, we had a special schools performance that saw over 460 local schoolchildren wowed by the musical spectacular.
We’re delighted that applications are open until 7 January for the 16th festival which returns to Kingston from 28 June – 7 July 2024. Applicants can find out more about how to bring a show to the festival on our Take Part page.
Changes in Leadership
In summer 2023, we announced that our CEO Louise Coles was stepping down after five and half years. Louise led the charity through challenging times including Brexit, Covid-19 and current economic conditions whilst developing Creative Youth from a project-based organisation to a year-round one, particularly with the introduction of FUSEBOX.
Louise’s leadership role has been taken up by two young people with several years involvement with the charity. Archie O’Neill & Daniel Cartlidge took up roles as Co-Directors from September 2023 and are looking forward to continue on focusing on the things that matter to local young people next year such as sustainability, climate change and mental health.
AMP Kingston; Art, Music, Pop Fashion
We have been exploring Kingston’s music heritage throughout 2023 as part of AMP Kingston; Art, Music, Pop Fashion. AMP Kingston is a National Lottery Heritage Fund supported project that is exploring and celebrating Kingston’s music heritage. Since launching, AMP Kingston has connected Kingston’s rich musical heritage to hundreds of people across the local community and beyond. This activity includes Bowie and Beyond, one of the most popular exhibitions ever to be hosted at Kingston Museum. AMP also works with a range of young creatives to deliver artistic interpretations of the historical research, including as part of UPCYCLE. This all-day event took place in June 2023 at FUSEBOX, and featured visual art, music, and make-up and craft workshops.
We’re excited to be launching a new exhibition at FUSEBOX in 2024: Kingston Art, Music, Pop Fashion 1960s – 1990s as a result of the project. Through a mix of oral histories, archive material and intergenerational community responses, this range of displays aims to connect the community to the rich cultural legacy of the area, and inspire and support the next generation of creatives. Find out more about the exhibition here.
Thank you to everyone who has been part of our journey in 2023 and we look forward to the new connections to be explored in 2024!