By Anna Braithwaite
I moved to Folkestone exactly two years ago, after the birth of my second child. I was looking for a better life and certainly more space, our family of four had long outgrown my one bedroom batchelorette pad in Peckham. So what have I found? Within weeks of arriving I was lucky enough to hear about the Kent Womens' Arts Club which was set up by Folkestone's Creative Foundation as part of the preparations for the 2014 Folkestone Triennial (an international sculpture exhibition which populates the entire town). KWAC was a life saver, it took me away from the 24/7 demands of a new baby for just a few hours and connected me with interesting, creative, like minded women in my area. I expected it might take me years to make the sort of friends and connections that I was able to make in a few evenings at KWAC.
I grew up near Folkestone but never knew that it was so full of people who like to say "yes!". This makes it a very positive place to live where ideas flourish and things happen. So when fellow KWAC member, Diane Dever, asked me if I would like to write something for the Folkestone Fringe, in the spirit of the town I now called home, I said "Yes!". Supposedly still on maternity leave (not something freelancers really experience) I worked at night, amongst towering boxes of my belongings, on creating a piece about the town. When I needed a venue, the first owner I approached (Gary at the Harbour Station Cafe) said yes, the people I wanted to interview for the piece all said yes without hesitation. I asked local musicians Alistair Bamford, Matthew Brown, Karen, Joliffe, Aidan Shepherd and Daniela Gajdosova to perform my piece "for the love of music" and they all very generously said yes too.
So when I wanted to set up this composers' collective, a vital resource for people who work so much in isolation, I was not surprised to find lots of lovely people who wanted to join. Thank you Aidan, Matthew, Phil and Ian for saying yes. We have been meeting at The Harbour Arm and Montrose House, Folkestone, regularly. Playing music, trying out new ideas and helping each other with problem solving in a supportive atmosphere. But what next? As everyone knows without a website you do not exist, so I thought we had better get one. As if by magic at the very moment I needed someone to create images for our site I met the wonderful Andrew Aitchison, a photographer who had just moved to Folkestone. Already in the swing of things, he agreed without hesitation to take the rather brilliant pictures of us you see on this website.
Diane Dever has, as usual, come up trumps with an invitation to Montrose Composers' Club to take part in her 'Profound Sound' festival (co-curated by Folkestone Fringe and Folkestone Quarterhouse) so we can get our music off the page and into peoples' ears! I hope you will join us to help celebrate the music, community and general joie de vivre of the town that likes to say "Yes!".
Foot note: Yes, we have found space, that was easy outside of London but you can't just find 'a better life'. Instead we have found a community in which to make a better life for ourselves.