Partners and Creek Creative founding directors Anne MacLaren and Simon Giles first discussed setting up a not-for-profit art studio complex close to Faversham town centre in October 2006, giving rise to a long research process. Their brainchild project was named ‘Creek Creative’ in March 2007, and registered as a community interest company (CIC) in September 2008. A Feasibility Report was completed in January 2009, followed by a lease agreement for No.1 Abbey Street, Faversham from the 1st July 2009. Conversion and renovation work started immediately, helped increasingly by local volunteers, supporters and sympathetic traders, and by March 2010 the first resident artists had taken up studios.
The incremental conversion process of this late-Victorian brewery bottling plant at No.1 Abbey Street in Faversham began in July 2009, from what was then the core premises of a major joinery business (Frank & Whittome). Thanks mainly to Anne and Simon’s vision and determination, from modest beginnings with few resources and minimal funds, they went on to establish Creek Creative Studios as one of Kent’s prime locations for local artists and artisan makers to create and display their work. This journey was only possible with help from Faversham’s many champions of the arts, frequent interventions by skilled volunteers, and much friendly support from the community. Developments such as the award winning Gallery Kitchen Café (within the Upper Gallery) under the guidance of talented Chef Lorraine King since September 2011, and the charmingly quirky Artisan Shop, have helped the project evolve into a fascinating destination, creative work environment, meeting place, event venue, and popular asset of the town.
Creek Creative now has thirty-two affordable and fully-occupied rented studios and seven deskspaces (ten if rented singly), shared by typically forty-five local creative practitioners and/or artists, although exact numbers and shares frequently fluctuate. The studio-holder list covers professional visual artists, silversmiths & designer-makers, writers & filmmakers, web & media designers, illustrators, musicians & theatre performers, including some who simply escape the rat-race (and essential work / mundane, or part-time jobs) by exploring their creativity in a vibrant studio environment. In addition there are hireable project spaces, event facilities, training workshop days, part-time courses, and public galleries for art or design exhibitions on a weekly basis (individual and group shows welcome, with subdivision options and curation by arrangement).
FROM AN ARCHIVE FILM IN MAY 2007 TO THE RELAUNCH IN JUNE 2021
This 5:30 edit “Before it all Began” dates back 15 years to when Anne & Simon made the original Creek Creative site check in May 2007. It took until July 2009 to secure the lease, get the keys, and start the hard work of transformation into Art Centre! Fast forward 14 years to Creek looking fine at 6pm on 10th June 2021 with new signage completed (11 years & 11 months from taking up residence at No.1 Abbey Street), two months after re-opening in April post Lockdown3.
Creek Creative owes a huge THANK YOU to all the volunteers, contributors, and everyone who worked on the project or gave financial support over the years. Special thanks go to Lady Swire, Hilary Riva and Neil Flanagan (of Swan Quay LLP), Pat Doyle, Bob Lamoon, Tony Gosling, Nathalie Banaigs, Caroline Lamoon, Bruce Ure, and Jill Holder. We are also grateful to Arts Council England, The Swire Foundation and Kent County Council for significant funding support in the past, and for those timely sums provided by Swale Borough Council, Faversham Enterprise Partnership, and members of Faversham Town Council.
FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE (POST-COVID-19 SURVIVAL + IMPROVEMENTS)
Despite some impressive achievements in the eleven years before the pandemic crisis, the evolution of facilities is ongoing, with many areas yet to reach their full potential and some major building works to complete. After the Public Health forced-closure (23rd March) we have had to make various changes to take care of the new hygiene / Social Distancing directives. Thankfully we received some vital financial support on 24th April 2020, to help sustain our NFP Arts Facility, thanks to Swale Borough Council who have always supported Creek Creative over the years, but we still face very challenging times ahead and need your support more than ever. Any donations will be gratefully received, and will help us cover the significant shortfall in income from reduced visitor numbers and sales during 2020 and 2021.
Please consider donating to Creek Creative CIC using the PayPal ‘Donate’ button above, and we will guarantee your financial input (however modest) will be spent frugally and often ingeniously on essential improvements. Most of the planned major works involve the Lower Ground Floor facilities including those listed below, while the #Coronavirus modifications and signage extend throughout the building:
- Lower Gallery needs structural reinforcement, damp-proofing, floor treatment, ventilation and heating.
- LGF Art Studios / Workshops need new canopies and/or a completely new roof, storage and heating.
- Create & equip a self-contained, hireable “OB Studio” for video sales/presentations & online conferencing.
GALLERY, ARTISAN SHOP + GALLERY KITCHEN CAFE (WITH INDOOR SERVICE) REOPENED FROM 19TH JULY 2021
Following the #Lockdown3 end and Upper Gallery / Artisan Shop re-opening on the 13th April 2021 (‘Step 2’) with continued Social Distancing, face-covering & outdoor service only, our Gallery Kitchen Café resumed indoor service (‘Step 3’) from Tuesday 18th May. The Café was subject to the ‘Rule of Six or 2x Households’ + #SocialDistancing + #WearMask (with some classes & workshops re-starting but limited to six people including tutor) until ‘Step 4’ began on 19th July. In effect this meant from Tuesday 20th July here at Creek, when the ‘new normal’ began.
CLOSURE IMPROVEMENTS / ADAPTING TO THE PANDEMIC – A FEW EXAMPLES…
Above: Photos of the new re-opening set up (04/08/20) + Below: Photos of current Front Yard set up with Marquee (29/09/20).
Below: Photos of Artisan Shop revamp, Gallery Kitchen Cafe counter & Upper Gallery exhibition (04/08/20).
Below: Photos of Gallery Kitchen Cafe counter detail & Print Studio lighting upgrade (31/08/20).
Below: Photos of new Lower Gallery ventilation system installation (11/11/20).
Below: Photos of new Lower Gallery #SocialDistancing Floor Markers (14/11/20).
COVID-19 CLOSURES (21ST MAR – 3RD AUG + 5TH NOV – 2ND DEC + 20TH DEC 2020 – 11TH APR 2021)
The pandemic challenges started with #Lockdown1 (21/03/20 to 03/08/20), and after many modifications we reopened from 04/08/20 to 04/11/20 with all the familiar Social Distancing and major new hygiene measures. We closed again for 4 weeks on #Lockdown2 (05/11/20 to 02/12/20), but re-opened with our Christmas Emporium 2020 in a #Tier3 region from 03/12/20 to 19/12/20, however we had to close it 5 days early ie from Sun 20th Dec, when Kent was raised to #Tier4. With #Lockdown3 declared in January (04/01/21 to 11/04/21), ‘Step 2’ for re-opening started 12/04/21, which for us meant re-opening from Tuesday 13th April with full interior activity restrictions. ‘Step 3’ began 17/05/21, so from Tuesday 18th May our Cafe was fully open to resume indoor service, but subject to the ‘Rule of Six or 2x Households’ until
21st June 19th July, when all compulsory restrictions ended in ‘Step 4’. (All restrictions remain subject to further government advisory reviews.)
Watch this space (or see our Facebook Page) for further developments. Please also check latest government guidance and updates here.
ONLINE GALLERY: CREEK POSTER RETROSPECTIVE UP TO JULY 2020
This video is a poster-graphic snapshot of 11 Years at No.1 Abbey Street (1st July 2009 – 30th June 2020), which includes past Exhibitions, Craft Fairs, Events, Presentations, Workshops & Courses, Promotion & Signage (click in corner for ‘Full Screen’ & ‘Esc’ to return). This archive video is also available on YouTube or as 8x posts of multiple photos on Instagram.
Creek Creative were #KentCreativeAwards finalists in ‘Cultural Venue’ + ‘Arts Organisation’ categories in 2017, and in November 2018 Lorraine and her Gallery Kitchen Cafe team earned a Gold Award for the second year running at the Freefrom Eating Out Awards 2018 in the ‘Cafés & Teashops’ category (see also FreeFrom Eating Out Awards 2017). Prior to that our GKC was shortlisted again for ‘Customer Service of the Year’ in 2017, having been a top three Finalist in both ‘Cafe of the Year’ and ‘Customer Service of the Year’ categories at the ‘Kent Life and Kent on Sunday Food & Drink Awards 2016‘. Back in 2015 our Gallery Kitchen Cafe had received a ‘Kent Life and Kent on Sunday Food & Drink Awards 2015‘ Highly Commended for ‘Cafe of the Year’ .