French-born artist, Nathalie Banaigs is a social entrepreneur with 25 years’ experience in project management in the media, arts and culture industry. She first pursued a career in television in France and in the UK before dedicating her focus on the wider creative community in Kent.
Nathalie believes that the arts and culture matter in society with creativity present in our everyday lives. They offer opportunities that contribute positively to our individual and community sense of well-being and quality of life. Nathalie is particularly interested in encouraging engagement with the arts; developing collaborations and supporting and developing the offer for arts enterprises in Kent, helping individuals and organisations to become more successful, and communities more cohesive. In 2014, Nathalie received the Kent Women in Business Runner-up Award in the Contribution to the Community category.
Carrie: When did you first realize you were a creative?
I grew up in an arty environment, with my mother being a painter, modern art teacher and museum curator; my brother is a film-maker; and before that, my grand father was a photographer and my great grand father a designer. I followed with a strong interest for art myself. It was my environment, there for me to explore.
Carrie: How would you describe your own artwork/creative practice to readers?
My work is divided in two parts: what I do for others and what I do for myself. With Kent Creative Arts, I like to think I am a facilitator, giving opportunities for artists and creatives to grow happily within their practice, promoting their work. As an artist I work with painting and photography, exploring both media. After a 3 year break, I am getting back to it right now.
Carrie: What is Kent Creative Arts?
Kent Creative Arts is a Community Interest Company; its main role is to promote creative talent in Kent. Our main current project is Kent Creative Live, a support group for artists, art organisations and creative businesses to develop relationships, improve business skills, promote work and get work opportunities. Its mission is to build a thriving community for creative people in Kent to create sustainable businesses in the arts.
Carrie: What do you want most for people who engage with Kent Creative Arts?
I am happy when people find it easier to achieve their goals as a result of our activities. To help creatives make positive changes in their lives is what motivates me most. If they can do what they love, express themselves with creativity, collaborate with others, make the environment they live in better with creativity… and for those who wish to, make a living out of it, that’s my job done.
Carrie: What is the 365 Projects?
These are community photography projects aiming to bring together people with the places in which they live. It involves selecting one picture from each day of the year taken by residents, hence 365. The first 365 project was run in 2007/2008 in Faversham. This triggered interest from other towns since.
The goal of the 365 model is to increase participation in photography, helping grow and improve relations and understanding of the places in which we live.
Carrie: When did you realize you wanted to create something like Kent Creative Arts?
I set up Kent Creative Arts as a Community Interest Company in 2009, realising that this was an appropriate and useful model that fitted my values and broader social purposes.
With the 365 projects first, offering people a platform to express themselves as a community, using a form of art to share their views with other and increase their sense of place.
With Kent Creative Live, I saw a great need to help nurture artists to become more business aware and savvy; to help them better present themselves their work to the market. It’s not just a question of talking about issues and challenges that matter, but being brave and seeking support to put practical things in place, even though it is for many, engaging in areas and tasks well outside their natural comfort zone!
Carrie: How do you balance your own creative interests with that of running Kent Creative Arts?
Ah! That has been my biggest challenge! Business does get in the way and I was gradually left with no time for my own creativity. I am currently in the process of re-structuring Kent Creative Arts to allow more time for my painting.
Carrie: Advice to others who wish to build and foster an arts based community?
Relationships. Relationships. Relationships. It’s all about people. Everything happens as a result of meeting people, collaborating, outsourcing etc… So my advice is to get out there in the community. A lot. Join groups, go to private views, conferences, etc…
Carrie: What is one creative resource you can’t live without?
People. Talking, sharing ideas, getting feedback, advice, support, encouragement….
Carrie: How do you define Creativity
Perhaps showing things that cannot be seen at first. Interpreting. Being curious. And crucially it’s about expressing oneself.
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*Portrait of Nathalie by photographer Richard Torble.
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