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Arts of the UK 2020: Carbon Theatre’s Mothers Who Make comes to Northamptonshire

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NORTHAMPTONSHIRE – A new hub for Mothers Who Make will come to Northamptonshire led by Carbon Theatre’s Courtenay Johnson and storyteller Jo Blake, with the support of Royal & Derngate and The Core at Corby Cube with start-up funding from the Avon Fund, Northamptonshire Community Foundation. Mothers Who Make is a growing national initiative which offers a monthly peer support group for mothers who are artists and makers, in any discipline and at any stage in their creative paths.

The first sessions will take place on Zoom, prioritising the safety of artists and their family. Operating a Pay What You Can system, these sessions look to be as open and inclusive as possible, connecting a network of artists and mothers to strengthen the creative roots of Northamptonshire. The sessions create a supportive space to explore how being a mother and an artist can enrich both experiences as much as looking at the challenges they can hold.

Every kind of maker is welcome: professional and/or passionate, full-time, part-time, freelance; writers, painters, performers, producers, musicians, bakers, crafters, architects, historians, wherever creativity flourishes. Every kind of mother is welcome too: biological, adoptive, step, surrogate, mother figures, foster, LGBTQ+, bereaved, grand, great grand, future, to be… Children are encouraged to attend as well and are integrated into the meeting. These group sessions are about recognising the dual roles of mother and artist and they are given equal value within all their events.

The initiative grew from founder, Matilda Leyser’s understanding of the experiences and challenges specific to being both a mother and an artist. She noticed many parallels between the two roles: both are concerned with creativity and play, both require stamina, patience, sensitivity, both keep her up at night. But she was struck by the cultural assumption that the two were incompatible, that one would always end up compromised. Mothers Who Make challenges this. Born in London six years ago, now the peer support group meetings take place in almost thirty different regions across the UK and overseas.

Mother, producer with Carbon Theatre and Northampton Hub co-founder, Courtenay Johnson comments: “I can’t wait to start this hub in Northamptonshire and meet more local creative mothers. I’m a freelance arts producer and mum to my 2½ year old daughter. Taking on the dual roles of ‘mother’ and ‘maker’ is such a challenge, especially when you are breaking down notions of old-fashioned professionalism or gender roles. I have a baby in this meeting, so what? I’m an unmarried single mother – shock horror. Having a group of mother-makers, creative womxn who understand a part of what your life is like and support you 100% is hugely valuable.”

Mother, storyteller, dancer and Northampton Hub co-founder, Jo Blake adds: “Isolation has always been an issue for mothers with young children. And in these challenging times, where isolation is enforced to protect us all, and we are witnessing such devastation to the cultural sector, it is even more important that those of us who are mothers who make reach out and stay connected. We intend these gatherings to provide a virtual space for reconnection, support and inspiration to women in the area.”

Jo Gordon, Chief Executive of Northamptonshire Arts Management Trust, comments: “I’m thrilled that Royal & Derngate and The Core are able to support Mothers Who Make. As a mum of two boys myself, I’m so aware that it is the most invigorating and sometimes the most isolating job in the world. Mothers Who Make is a safe and supportive space for mums of kids of all ages to come together, in this case with a fundamental connection – that of being an artist, or a maker – a skillset and identity that can often be put on hold in the early days of motherhood. While we can’t wait to welcome the groups to our buildings when it is safe to do so, the launch of Mothers Who Make online is an exciting moment for Northamptonshire.”

The first Northamptonshire session of Mothers Who Make will take place on Thursday 23rd July at 8pm – 9.30pm, signup here

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