Hastings Creative Summer Programme

Hastings’ Creative Summer was a five-week long festival held in August 2018. It offered a creative and digital skills programme for young people aged 11 to 18, comprising Media Slam workshops, Royal Institution (Ri) Masterclasses, Creative Mystery Tours of studios and workspaces, and research and practical activity. Funded via the Broadening Horizons Fund, it was all about personal development, new opportunities, discovering new challenges and having fun.

The Media Slam workshops were led by top creative industry experts and held in and around Rock House on Cambridge Road on Wednesdays and Thursdays throughout August 2018. They were a chance for young people to get hands-on with leading practitioners in Virtual Reality, documentary photography, music and digital technology, textile design and screen printing, running events and gigs, and how to be a young entrepreneur.

The Creative Mystery Tour was a two-hour insight into a range of jobs in the creative industries and was held at Rock House on Fridays during August 2018. Ever wondered what a Foley Operator is? Or a Lightroom post-production expert? If someone phoned up and asked you to organise an agile scrum stand-up meeting would you know where to start? These are some of the weirder job titles and tasks that keep people in the creative industries busy.

Not a lot of people know that in the centre of Hastings, at Rock House, we’ve got quite a few successful media experts working in all sorts of interesting industries, from digital photography, to building digital networks across the town. Participants were able to meet these media experts and digital businesses in their place of work. They got a chance to find out how the experts got into their professions, what they studied at school, and how they made their way into these exciting careers. The visits were a useful help towards GCSE or ‘A’ level choices.

On Saturday mornings in August, Hastings Library hosted a month of prestigious Ri Masterclasses for the first time in the town, partnering with MSL Projects and the Royal Institution of Great Britain itself.

Participants completing all four Ri Masterclasses received a certificate from the Royal Institution. Participants completing any Media Slam two-day workshop, Creative Mystery Tour event or Masterclass received a certificate from Hastings’ Creative Summer for great ideas, nice work and positive contributions. Participants also got access to specially-compiled research materials in Hastings Library. All programmes were free and open to students from schools across East Sussex and Kent.

More about what happened…

Below is a selection of photographs taken by participants at the two-day Documentary Photography session held on Wednesday 8 and Thursday 9 August 2018, led by professional photographer John Cole and People in IT. The aspiring young photographers worked with John on the streets of Hastings and St Leonards using digital (DSLR) cameras. From left to right, the photos were taken by: Alex, Anna, Elija, Evie, Hannah, Jack, Larisa, Leon, Olympia, Radu, Siobhan, and John Cole.

Session 1 of the Creative Mystery Tour – Rock House on Friday 10 August 2018  – 5 x 20-minute insights into the creative industries and the mystery that is Rock House.

We began with Adam Clements, animator and filmmaker, demonstrating a simple animation on a graphics tablet, screening his current showreel and another that won him a place at university. We then climbed two floors to Technology Box where Ian McInnnes opened up 360 degrees of his office and live-streamed it to YouTube. We sank five floors down in the ‘slowest lift ever’ to the Alley and an intro by Beth Woolf into the magic of regenerating old buildings, alleys and townscapes. Back up one floor to iRock where we saw another film (with animation) that offered routes to health and happiness for troubled young people. Up one more to Chloe White’s lair and a first-ever showing to a small clutch of the public of Whalebone’s trailer for a potential documentary on The Coffin Club. We then rounded off with lunch.

Two young people, one a veteran of most of the sessions we’ve run so far and the other a newbie, took a great deal from it – ‘really enjoyed it’, ‘how can I get into Rock House?’ – asked intelligent questions, got honest answers, and opened up about themselves. We learned from them about bullying at school, self-harming and getting over it with counselling, career aspirations (floristry and photography) and plans from one to live forever and patent the secret, the other to pay back a brother with some dreadful funeral music!

Photo of participants at Simon Wilkinson's VR Storytelling workshop for Hastings Creative Summer

The VR storytelling and idea generation workshop (Media Slam) was held on Wednesday 1 August 2018 at Rock House. Simon Wilkinson, a British transmedia artist (also known as Circa69), showed some of his latest VR work and developed some ideas with workshop attendees.


Robert Price’s Ri Masterclass, Internet of things in reality was held on Saturday 4 August 2018. Robert ran a session in Hastings Library on building an air quality monitor and then set up three monitors across Hastings and examined some results during the session.

Photo of Luciana Haill's Biomechanics into the Brain workshop for Hastings Creative Summer

Biomechanics: looking into the brain using EEG machines was an Ri Masterclass run by Luciana Haill, held on Saturday 11 August 2018 in Hastings Library. Luciana discussed perpetual technologies and brought a portable EEG system, projecting visuals from her mini data projector. She connected the participants to the EEG machine for five minutes each and reviewed the EEG changes.

Photo of Kevin Grist's Audio Camp workshop for Hastings Creative Summer

The musician Kevin Grist held a Media Slam workshop called Audio Camp on Wednesday 15 and Thursday 16 August 2018 in Rock House. Kevin brought instruments and digital-mixing desks to the workshop and taught the participants how to make music and save it to their smartphones.

Photo of participants at Jacqueline Curry's Robotics workshop for Hastings Creative Summer

The Ri Masterclass Aerospace engineering, programming and robotics with Jacqueline Currie was held on Saturday 18 August 2018 at Hastings Library. Participants were able to practise hands-on programming with Lego Mindstorm EV3 robots.

Photo of participants of Sue Townshend's Branding Textile Design workshop for Hastings Creative Summer

Visual artist and arts educator Sue Townshend held the Media Slam workshop Branding and textile design on Wednesday 22 and Thursday 23 August 2018 at Rock House. Attendees created urban digital photos around Hastings, developed a unique design for a t-shirt using print blocks they had carved and then printed their t-shirts. They also experimented with print collage and mono-printing to create art pieces and a group piece.


The Ri Masterclass Fingers Push Buttons presents Digital Sound Makers with Pisound was held by digital musician Sam Halligan on Saturday 25 August 2018 in Hastings Library. Sam presented an overview of electronic, tape and digital music and then he led participants through how to build software on Raspberry Pi units to making and triggering sound using the Pure Data platform.

We were very pleased with the attendance during the programme. The Masterclasses registered almost 100 attendances; the Media Slam sessions almost 1,500; the Mystery tours 16; the iRock drop-ins 152; participants received certificates from the Royal Institution for attendances at the Masterclasses and either a certificate for attendance or excellence for the rest of the programme.

Workshop photos by Jon Pratty.

About the Royal Institution
Every year, for the last 30 years, the Royal Institution of Great Britain has run Engineering, Computer Science and Mathematics Masterclasses in schools and public venues across Britain. The classes are free and open to school students from all backgrounds. For many students, the Ri Masterclass is their first experience of meeting and hearing a real scientist, engineer, computer scientist or mathematician, and the inspiration often leads to further study, university courses and more.

About Rock House
Rock House is a showcase scheme, blending living, working and community space with people working in the creative enterprise sector – start-ups, small businesses and local entrepreneurs. Tenants include people working in design and media (print, web and everything else), photography, website development, animal welfare, youth projects and initiatives, festivals and event management, the music industry (vinyl), documentary film, architecture, film and television, digital animation, and technology.

About MSL
MSL celebrates individual creativity, community and place. We create performances, exhibitions and installations that engage and inspire people, and transform communities, integrating creative work with social, learning and economic objectives.

Margaret Sheehy, MSL Director
Margaret has a background in education as well as wide experience of the cultural and creative sector. She has worked as a theatre director and writer, and as a producer of both large and small-scale festivals and celebratory events.

Jon Pratty, MSL Associate Director and Co-Director People in IT
Jon is a Digital Producer and Curator and is currently a postgraduate student at the University of Sussex. He specialises in digital skills development programmes, education technology events and place-making activity.

Donna Comerford, Co-Director People in IT
Donna is curious about how things work and making processes effective. That curiosity has led to her gaining experience as a technology consultant, IT Trainer, Project Manager and Business Education Teacher. She has managed and been involved in various collaborative arts, education and technology projects and supports her passion for learning with the study of an Open University Masters degree.

Steve White, Teacher
Steve is a young and creative teacher of economics and business studies, currently working at Battle Abbey School. Steve loves talking with young people about new business ideas and is also passionate about the environment. He’s going to be present at most of our Ri Masterclasses, helping manage the events. He will also be helping Rob Price develop his Internet of Things Ri Masterclass, which will be a fascinating live experiment tracking car pollution across the town.

Hastings’ Creative Summer was developed by MSL Discover and MSL Digital with People in IT for the Hastings Opportunity Fund, in partnership with the Royal Institution, Hastings Library, and White Rock Neighbourhood Ventures. Additional funding from Love Hastings.

Hastings’ Creative Summer was funded by Hastings Opportunity Area.


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