Meet Sugar Stealers before they perform at Beat The Streets this weekend..
Meet the interviewees
Hannah Siam Gascoyne (@hannahsiamwriter) is a creative writing undergraduate, and a member of Sugar Stealers. Her day-to-day job is in the music industry, working at DHP (they run Beat the Streets, where Sugar Stealers will be performing this Sunday, 29th Jan).
Sophie Louisa Stephens (@sophielouisastephens) is a talented writer from Nottingham running poetry workshops at Sugar Stealers. They’re called ‘Mindful Musings’ - a safe space to express yourself and delve deep, through poetry, meditation, journaling and sharing in a community.
Tiffany Jade Holland (@tiffanyjadeholland) is an amazing singer/songwriter, as well as a key member of the Circle of Light and Sugar Stealers teams.
Tiff, can you talk a bit about why Sugar Stealers exists?
Sugar Stealers was created with the intention of encouraging healing and progression in our local community - holding a particular focus on supporting women and non-binary people. Through arts and good wellbeing practice, we are working to break down systemic barriers and generational trauma, by offering a safe space for organic growth to take place.
It was set up by five local women, who have experienced those personal and professional barriers that stand before our community. We want to provide a platform for sharing information and resources, with the hope of encouraging the changes that we want to see.
Who can join Sugar Stealers and what can they expect when they join?
Sugar Stealers is free to access and is open to anyone that identifies as a woman or a non-binary person. It varies from month to month but our projects are mostly focused on creativity and wellbeing so we offer a range of workshops that explore things like: yoga, poetry, dance, fashion, drawing, boxing etc.
The vibe is super relaxed and there is never any pressure to do anything that you don’t want to do. We often have people show up just to see a friendly face! The groups have a wide age range of 18 - 80 years, and everyone is at different levels of experience, but most people who join us are starting an activity for the first time ever. Most importantly, we learn from each other and celebrate all the things that make us unique.
You can join our project via the Sugar Stealers website where you will find details of our existing projects and a project application form.
What are the things you are most proud of for achieving so far?
It's been a remarkable journey. In our first month of activity and in the midst of a global pandemic, we were able to connect 550 women and non-binary people from across the UK and as far as India and Canada, in a harmonious sharing of culture and progression. That first project formed the foundations for our in-person workshops which continue to conjure a storm of positivity to this day.
Tell me a bit about the three main aspects of Sugar Stealers - entertainment, mental health support and community projects. How do they all play into each other?
Humans are complex, we don’t believe in one size fits all and we construct our projects with this in mind. Art and movement are an effective way to get a better understanding of who we are, our place within the world and the people we share it with.
By engaging a diverse group of people in creative opportunities that hold a subtle discussion of mental health, we are able to create a space where healing and growth is not only inevitable but kind of infectious!
Hannah, can you tell me a bit about your experience with Sugar Stealers?
I first heard about Sugar Stealers through Sophie Louisa Stephens, who runs the ‘Mindful Musings’ writing and meditation workshops. I have been going on and off for almost a year now and it really has become a safe space to share my writing. It is wonderful to be part of a female and non-binary collective, who share the same love of writing as I do.
It is a very empowering experience as a lot of the attendees (including myself) are able to truly express themselves and their emotions, with no fear of judgment. It has also been an amazing way to discover new styles of writing and writing prompts that have been encapsulated by Sophie. You’ll leave with a new sense of confidence with your work and some lovely new friends too. It has been a new kind of endorphin hit for me.
Sophie, what can people expect from your workshops?
It's a combination of mindful exercises, meditation and writing prompts. Usually, it’s responding to a particular theme that often draws on nature shifting with the seasons, mental health, and self care, using writing as a tool to express and work through emotions. The writing produced is unique to each person. It doesn’t have to be a poem or an epic piece of literature, the workshops aim to relieve that expectation and critical pressure we can apply to creating.
How is Sugar Stealers moving forward? What can we expect from you next?
Lots and lots! We are about to enter our third year of project delivery. We are launching our first workshop calendar of 2023 soon and are planning an awesome event for International Women's Day in March. As a CIC and publicly funded organisation, we are also seeking more funding to develop the project and to allow us to continue providing valuable opportunities for our beautiful community.
What can we expect from your upcoming Beat the Streets performance?
A 45-minute show featuring our incredible artists and their beautiful spoken word performances. It’s local, it’s female and non-binary led, and it’s the first of its kind at Beat the Streets!
I (Hannah) was approached by one of my colleagues about performing some of my poetry at Beat the Streets and I was so touched, especially as it will be the first ever year BTS will have spoken word! I wanted to take the opportunity to represent Sugar Stealers and showcase some of Nottingham’s female and non-binary poets.
You can catch Sugar Stealers at 13:30pm in Red Room at Beat the Streets on Sunday 29 January
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