Fairer Scotland

There is another way

August 14, 2015 by 1 Comment | Category Carers

Centrestage Community show at Ardeer, Stevenston

..So many communities across Scotland need to find their magic and sparkle. They’ll only find it if we believe in them and empower them to aspire beyond what has been, and to dream about what could be. .

Fiona McKenzie (Chief Executive Officer, Centrestage Communities Ltd).

For over eight years now I’ve been reminding people that Centrestage isn’t about a place – it’s about the people – and that’s still true.

The bottom line is this. We believe that everyone – regardless of age, background or experience – can gain life changing social benefits through active participation in the arts, particularly music, drama and dance.

We seek to build a community of support and belief from our work in Ardeer in Stevenston – and then to pay that feeling forward to communities and individuals who haven’t been lucky enough to feel that sense of belonging and support.

In these difficult times, I’ve come to likening what we do to a cappuccino. Please, bear with me!

Right down there, at the bottom of the cup, there’s the grit and grounds. The reality of everyday existence and the challenges it brings to us all – financially, socially and morally.

However, above that we have the all-important life affirming shot of coffee! The power of the arts to transform communities and to stabilise, dignify and empower people to move forward independently.

And of course, this is all headed by the froth – the place, the people, the shows, the lights – and the laughs. Transformation. Possibility.

Every community – regardless of setting – has a history. Usually a great one. And every community has great people. So every community has potential.

The potential of communities
We are privileged to be able to work with communities and individuals who are experiencing real deprivation.

Every community – regardless of setting – has a history. Usually a great one. And every community has great people. So every community has potential.

A fairer Scotland needs to encourage us all that it’s time to talk potential – not poverty.

Let’s find solutions through community conversations – not individual interrogations.

In a real sense, we can’t expect the most vulnerable and disengaged people within our communities to move forward until there is dignity and hope in their lives.

But the chaos in which so many of them are living today crushes such aspiration. Relentless time, patience and kindness is required from all of us – privileged with the responsibility of supporting them – to help bring meaning and focus, and to bring them into the fold of a supportive community.

Easier said than done. And this is the point. People will find it nigh on impossible to turn a new chapter in their lives, if we can’t move beyond the mistakes of the past.

The ex-addict. The ex-offender. The un-educated. Stigma. Exclusion. Rejection.

If people are always to be defined by who they were, what they did – how can they ever find out who they could be?

If no-one will give them the time to teach them how to belong, why should they change?

It’s time to believe in people
It’s far easier to control than to care. And from our perspective it’s not just about the money. Money keeps the roof over our heads – but it doesn’t heal broken people and broken communities. Support is human – the ability to offer time and patience to people and places that require it.

There’s a story behind every person. There’s a reason why people are the way they are and a reason why they behave the way they do. A fairer Scotland needs to engage with its citizens, to understand the stories of her people and act for the Common Weal.

Trust me – little by little – we’re seeing big changes in Ardeer. I’m often reminded of a lovely quote by Roald Dahl:

Watch with sparkling eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.

We believe in magic at Centrestage. We’re seeing it every day in Ardeer. A diamond is just a lump of coal that handled stress really well and Ardeer – despite its stresses – is becoming a real wee diamond.

So many communities across Scotland need to find their magic and sparkle. They’ll only find it if we believe in them and empower them to aspire beyond what has been, and to dream about what could be. A fairer Scotland needs to support their journey.

We believe in people.

There is another way.


More information

Website, Carers week
Carers Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK.

Website, Centrestage Communities
Centrestage Communities aims to help participants improve their own lives by providing the tools to make this possible. All projects are focused on building a strong sense of community both within our organisation and in the town itself.


In 2006, Fiona McKenzie left teaching to launch the social enterprise Centrestage Music Theatre CIC, building the theatre and teaching space without public or grant funding. This was followed by the launch of the charity Centrestage Communities Ltd in 2008.

Anyone, regardless of age, background or experience is welcome to attend Centrestage activities and the CS team currently delivers activities, projects and performances to over 1500 members of the community weekly within Centrestage and in the wider community across Ayrshire and beyond. Last year, over 100 performances were staged at their Kilmarnock base.

Fiona won the Association of Scottish Businesswomen award for Outstanding Contribution in October 2014 and the Woman of Inspiration Award for 2015.


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Comments

  • I was privileged to make a documentary about Centrestage for STV in 2014, and to witness first hand the remarkable effect it is having on those communities it touches. I was able to capture those early weeks in Ardeer and to see young people and their families begin to change and blossom.

    In areas where Centrestage has had a presence for some time, people described, both on and off camera, how becoming involved had changed their lives beyond recognition, in many often unexpected ways, moving them beyond their pasts.

    Fiona McKenzie remains one of the most inspiring people I have ever met – her drive, passion, energy and commitment shine brighter than the diamonds she writes of.

    I look forward to watching Centrestage continue to grow and spread its message of hope ever further, improving futures as it does.

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