As part of Brent 2020, London Borough of Culture, a Mayor of London initiative, Kiln Theatre’s The Agency is a scheme to support young Brent-based entrepreneurs between 15-25 years old develop ideas for social change in their area, turning their passion into a project. Using their needs and desires, research into local community, and support from artists and local networks, in 2020 23 Agents from Brent created brand new ideas as potential business plans.
“The Agency gave me more confidence working with a team and expressing my ideas and being able to put your words into actions. The Agency opened my ideas to how many opportunities there are to become a better person and how many different paths I could go down in my life. It opened my eyes to the problems that are going on in my community and it gave me the tools to actually try and change something. I used to feel like I could see the problems (in my community) but I couldn’t do anything about them but The Agency really helped me in terms of being able to do something.
I learnt about budgeting, doing interviews, you get the skills of not just being an employee but of being a manager and a leader. I learnt about responsibility. It helps with your organisation and what you’re going to have to go into when you become an adult. (Brent Agent)
The Agency at Kiln began on 8th January 2020 though the programme had to be put on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Agents in Brent had just held their community consultations and were two weeks away from pitching their ideas and projects to the funding panel when the pandemic forced the programme to halt normal activity and go online. Though pitches were postponed, Agents continued to develop their projects and extend their networks. Just before Agents pitched their ideas to the panel restrictions were eased in the UK and we were able to meet in person for an intensive period to prepare. In total, 12 projects were pitched and 4 ideas were developed and brought to life.
“Being able to continue the agency project, whilst the whole country shut down reminded me of the resilience and determination of the young people of Brent. The project has changed us as an organisation, and it’s important that we look at ways to continue to collaborate with the Agents and widen our participation in the future.” Kiln Theatre Artistic Director Indhu Rubasingham
Three selected projects received £2,000 towards a pilot of their idea, and a total of four projects were offered the support of a specialist producer to help make their vision a reality.
The Panel included:
Dawn Austwick – Chief Executive, The National Lottery Community Fund and Kiln Theatre Chair of the Board
Jonathan Badyal – Head of Communications, Universal Music
Muhammed Butt – Leader of Brent Council I
Indhu Rubasingham – Kiln Theatre Artistic Director
Sydney Sylvah – The Agency Alumni, Battersea, founder of Sydney’s Naturals Nathaniel Telemaque – St Raphael’s Estate resident and artist
“As a Brent resident I take huge pride from knowing we are home to this centre of artistic excellence. To see these young lives inspired and enabled by everything the Kiln represents is itself an inspiration. Indeed, it is a huge part of why we are and will always be a borough of culture” Cllr Muhammed Butt
Brent Power Play
free access to sports for care leavers to build confidence and improve mental health
Kicking Through Violence by Mohit, Zouhir
by Mohit, Zouhir
safe and rival-free football tournaments across Brent
Kids for Life by Lylah
support and activities to vulnerable young people at Ansar Youth Project
Mind Map by Amber
mentoring and support for young people struggling financially
St Raph’s Shard by Melina
community events to reunite young people of St Raphael’s Estate following a spout of violence and knife crimes
Sweet T by Tanya
a support service for people at risk of homelessness
Tit for Tat by Conor
workshops about helpful life administration including tax, tenancy agreements, contracts and opening bank accounts
Tutor Me Tutor You
by Fadya, Grace, Ilwad
peer-to-peer tutoring project offering free support in Maths, Science and English
The four selected projects were
A co-created archiving project and an installation that documents the stories of people and places in areas of Harlesden undergoing regeneration.
A podcast that gives individuals with care experience a platform to have their voices heard through their stories and experience. As well as draws up on professional advice and information. Aims to change the narrative about care leavers.
by Berlyn, Lina, Nathan & Yusra
A project for young people in Wembley where young people take the lead in planning and shooting their own short films around pertinent topics: family issues, gangs, body image and sexual assault. Young people will learn film making and editing skills.
One other project which Kiln Theatre wanted to support and is looking at raising further money to help realise is Consent First by Fizza, a creative project for young girls in Wembley providing making and design skills and education around consent and sexual assault. Fizza’s Go Fund Me page can be found here.
LIVING HISTORIES by MICHAEL
Living Histories by Michael – Living Histories is a co-created archiving project and an installation that documents the stories of people and places in areas of Harlesden undergoing regeneration.
Visit living histories website here
Sancia’s Podcast by Sancia
Sancia’s Podcast by Sancia – Sancia’s Podcast is a podcast that gives individuals with care experience a platform to have their voices heard through their stories and experience. As well as draws up on professional advice and information. Aims to change the narrative about care leavers.
Listen to Sancia’s podcast here
Film4Thought by Berlyn, Yusra, Nathan and Lina – Film4Thought is a project for young people in Wembley where young people take the lead in planning and shooting their own short films around pertinent topics: family issues, gangs, body image and sexual assault. Young people will learn film making and editing skills.
Consent First by Fizza- Consent First is a creative project for young girls in Wembley providing making and design skills and education around consent and sexual assault.
Find out about fizza’s project consent first by visiting her go fund me page here
“The Agents have shown an inspirational level of commitment to community and creativity. Through all the challenges of this last year they consistently progressed their social change projects, adapting to many changes and obstacles along the way. They have realised their amazing visions; we are so proud to share their achievements and we cannot wait to see what their next successes are on their journey.” Catherine Nicholls Senior Producer The Agency at Battersea Arts Centre
“Creativity is part of London’s DNA. Every young Londoner must be able to participate and create change in their communities. It’s great to see Brent’s London Borough of Culture legacy in action: local young people creating their own zines, podcasts, and more, with the help of the award-winning Kiln Theatre.” Justine Simons OBE, Deputy Mayor for Culture and the Creative Industries
Mohit - 7 July 2020
I grew up playing football in the streets of Lisbon, Portugal since I came out of the womb. My dad just stuck a football at my feet and since then I knew that was what I wanted to do. Waking up early as a kid and knowing your friends are outside waiting for you to bring out the ball, playing football before school and after school. Every opportunity I got to play, I took it.
When I was 10 I had my first deal with a professional Portuguese academy through the help of a supportive coach in primary school, but my parents thought it was expensive and a waste of time so they told me not to join. It was upsetting and frustrating feeling that your parents didn’t want you to achieve your dreams but deep down I knew it would be one opportunity of many.
Shortly the year after, my parents had a hard time with employment so they decided to move to England. At first, I was excited because all my favourite footballers played for English clubs but then I realised I would have a hard time communicating with others because I couldn’t speak the language. Because of this, I had difficulty making friends in London but then my P.E teacher recommended I join a club nearby called St. Lawrence FC and from there I just fit in and found out that football is very different in the U.K. compared to Portugal.
At 16 I was at Crystal Palace Development Team. This was where the players with less ability would go to get trained harder, and in this team many players were older and much stronger than me. I wasn’t mentally or physically prepared for that season so I would get barged off the ball, lose balance when on the ball and would lose focus during games. This was the point where I thought I should quit and focus on my studies instead so I started to miss training sessions and matches. Days became weeks, and weeks become months, all because I thought I wasn’t good enough for the team so I started to question why I was even there. But then one day, one of the under 16s coaches came to my house on a random day and spoke to me. We sat down for three hours thinking of ways of how I could improve my fitness levels, how training sessions could improve me mentally and physically, thought of tactical sessions to focus so that I could get back to training with the squad. That day he left my house at 7 pm with a quote which I still stick by, ‘ Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard’ and that was where my Crystal Palace journey started. I had one year to see if I could make it to the first team in Crystal Palace. Unfortunately, I didn’t but a year later, at 17 I got a scholarship at Brunel University. So I now play for PFA Academy Under 19s and the professional club AFC Hayes Men’s First Team.
Throughout all these years, I have formed strong relationships with people in the football industry. Many great coaches, players and great agents. Football has had a huge impact on my life and I believe it can do the same for others.
Berlyn - 12 June 2020
Life without school has been confusing to say the least. A lot of school students, especially in year 12 and year 10, have been left confused because we have no idea how the lockdown will affect our grades or education within the next couple of years. Online school is nowhere near as good or effective as school in a classroom and means that a lot of us are falling behind. I personally would like to go back to school but also am cautious because corona virus is still a huge issue. Without school to occupy me and others my age, there’s this feeling of uselessness because we haven’t got anything productive to do even if we do complete all our online work. Without having school to distract me it means I’m on my phone far more often, for up to 11 hours a day, social media has become far more addictive without school and grades to worry about. Whilst I do try to be productive and do things such as read to take me off of my phone, it only reduces the damage caused by phones by a small amount. In my opinion, online school is just as bad as doing nothing because for most people my age there is no real incentive to do the work and barely any guidance for any confusion on any of the work. Honestly, the sooner we get back to normal the better. A lot of pressure is being put on young people to behave like university students, which in some ways can be useful but is also very stressful and difficult for young people, especially when you live in a noisy or distracting household. I feel like not going to school and the pandemic as a whole feels kind of unrealistic because no one expected that anything like this could happen. Right now I would say that my biggest concern about school at the moment is how it is going to affect my exams next year and my university applications, hopefully they will not be negatively effected too much and things will go back to normal as soon as possible.
Agent - 14 May 2020
Having lived in the London borough of Brent for some time now, feelings of isolation were a frequent feature in my daily life. Most days would be filled with trying to make connections, finding local groups to socialise with – above all else, establish roots where I had chosen to live.
In the age of social media, you’d think it was easy to find like-minded people who shared similar interests, but that didn’t prove to be the case. In fact, I found quite regularly that people were more concerned about curating their online lives and identities as opposed to establishing real, genuine connections with real, genuine people.
Suffering from a chronic condition didn’t help, either: whenever I had the opportunity to make friends, issues of anxiety and the long term consequences of isolation would take their toll. At points, I felt as if I had nowhere to go.
But then, I discovered The Agency – a group of inclusive people who created a hub enabling social interaction and connection. Tied together by an inspiring mission statement, the object of attending The Agency and various Kiln-related activities may well have been project-focused, but I have gained so much more from this experience; friends, support networks and chiefly, love.
Even during this pandemic, I’ve received nothing but a welcoming response in the wake of what are extremely challenging times – all Gemma, Lydia, Marco and Will have remained positive, encouraging and warm for what are, I’m sure, hard times for them too. And with such an affable, energised group of people, including the amazing cohort at The Kiln, I have no doubt great things are still to come!
The Agency at Kiln Theatre is part of Brent’s London Borough of Culture in 2020
Brent is London’s Borough of Culture in 2020. Our programme explores the stories, art and emotions that hold life in Brent together, uncovering and celebrating the borough’s untold tales and unheard voices. We are the home of Zadie Smith, reggae, English football and its captains. We have London’s oldest road, the biggest Hindu Temple in Europe, the Kiln Theatre and Mahogany Carnival Design. We are where city becomes Metroland; where roads, waterways and railways cross; where outsiders fight for their place. We are Jayaben Desai, George Michael, Cyrille Regis, Keith Moon, Rachel Yankey, Janet Kay, Twiggy, Bob Marley, Michael Meaney and Trojan Records. It is from this alchemy that our year of culture comes. Brent is more than a borough of culture: This is the Borough of Cultures.
We live in a country that isn’t sure where it’s going. But Brent has never been a place that follows trends: it sets them. As Europe’s eyes turn to Wembley next year for the finals of the UEFA European Football Championships we will show them a place that is new, genuine and hopeful.
Originally conceived by Marcus Faustini in Rio de Janeiro, The Agency UK is a Battersea Arts Centre and Contact programme devised in partnership with People’s Palace Projects. It is designed to have a transformative impact on participants. Previous Agents have gone on develop live music enterprises that have reached over 100,000 people, partner with Chelsea Football Club to create innovative English language learning programmes, and work for global consultants Ernst & Young as Careers Consultant for Young People in Care. The Agency in Waltham Forest, London Borough of Culture 2019, was delivered by Blackhorse Workshop, who were then inspired to establish Blackhorse Responders, a new youth programme in creative activism