What started as a dream of ‘a place anyone of any age could come at any time and be part of somewhere built around music and people’ is now a centre of remarkable human and economic transformation. Lives across Ayrshire have been positively reclaimed and redirected. When Centrestage won the Hospitality Awards Theatre of the Year in 2019, they were operating from a small factory unit, now after a Community Asset Transfer, the biggest in UK history, they will occupy the rejuvenated and repurposed former Kilmarnock Academy and its outbuildings to create a village of human immensity.
The figures speak for themselves. In 2018/19 they recorded 140,000 visits, put on 83 highly rated performances and 24 activity showcases and special events. But Centrestage is not just about those within easy reach, it stretches into a far wider community, where people are supported to attend and perform in Centrestage productions. The team is also out and about in prisons, in care homes and in harder to reach areas. And it is not just the performance arts that are learned and honed at Centrestage. Prop-making, lighting, stage management, reception, hospitality outreach and, catering - the list is endless. And because of unacceptable levels of hunger in the community, they have extensive kitchens turning excess food into proper and nutritious meals – feeding a community that now doesn’t have to queue at a foodbank and eats with dignity and companionship. All this started by two teachers Fiona McKenzie and Paul Matheson who left the security of their profession in pursuit of a dream.