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Upcoming opportunities for Community Artists and Community Arts Touchstone Scheme (C.A.T.S) Logo Design Challenge

The Backstage Centre’s Community Arts Touchstone Scheme is looking for South Essex stories about Thurrock, Basildon and Southend. We want to discover more about the community in which we live and work and its history.

Tell us what you know!

We are looking for stories about the relationship of the River Thames and its coastal towns and villages.

Wikipedia (thanks Wiki!)  provided some interesting information about some of our coastal locations.

Shoebury Garrison

‘Located on slightly raised land at the mouth of the Thames estuary, Shoebury has had strategic importance since prehistoric times.’

Wow! That’s quite an age!!


‘originally consisted of a few poor fishermen’s huts and farms at the south end of the village of Prittlewell. In the 1790s, the first buildings around what was to become the High Street of Southend were completed.’

Apparently, there was a theatre and a smugglers route near the Kursaal, who’d have thought it?

Wat Tyler Park

‘People have lived here in the marshes for around 5,500 years, where salt production, fishing and shellfish have helped people earn a living ever since.’

And there we were thinking all the sea salt came from Maldon!


‘Fobbing was one of the main villages involved with the Peasants’ Revolt. On 30 May 1381, the commissioner John Bampton summoned the Fobbing villagers, as well as villagers from Corringham and Stanford, to Brentwood to answer as to why they had not paid tax.’

Did they know Lester Piggott or Ken Dodd?


‘Tilbury’s history is closely connected with its geographical location. Its counterpart on the south bank of the River Thames, Gravesend, has long been an important communications link, and it was there that a cross-river ferry was connected, mainly due to the narrowness of the river at this point. In addition, Gravesend and Northfleet (also on the south shore) both became vitally important to shipping on the Thames: the former as the first port of call for foreign shipping bound for London, and the latter as a naval dockyard.’

In theatre we are very grateful to our sailors who taught us everything we needed to learn to become theatre riggers and be able to fly scenery!


‘Samuel Pepys recorded in his diary that he visited Grays on 24 September 1665 and apparently bought fish from the local fishermen. Parts of Grays and Chafford Hundred are set within three Victorian chalk pits: the largest two being the Lion Gorge, and the Warren Gorge. Another area of the Chafford Hundred residential development is built on a Victorian landfill site.’

That must have been quite a walk for Samuel!


‘The place-name “Purfleet” is first attested in 1285, where it appears as Purteflyete. It is recorded as Pourteflet in the Close Roll for 1312. The name means “Purta’s stream or tidal inlet”.’

What’s in a name? How did the place you live in get its name?

These are really interesting, but do you know something else about your community you would like to share, and help us to create some great community and education projects?

What are we looking for?

Community Artists

We are collating stories from our communities to contribute to a range of Creative Arts and Education themed activities from September 2021.

We are looking for storytellers, writers, performers, musicians, artists, technicians, film makers and much more

Community Arts Touchstone Scheme (C.A.T.S) Logo Design Challenge

Do you have an artistic, graphic design flair? If so, we would love to receive logo design ideas for our new C.A.T.S project.

Here’s the brief:

We are looking for creative, contemporary, simple designs that present the opportunities from C.A.T.S and the talent within our own community.

Design Guide:

  • TBC Ltd Brand Colours or Black & White/Grey Scale can be submitted.
  • Provide your design in a medium of your choice, e.g., illustration, graphic, sketch, painting.
  • All design to be submitted digitally.
  • Your design will be published on the Backstage Centre website, and used on all activity branding.
The Backstage Centre Brand Colours

The Community Arts Touchstone Scheme brings the community, education and the creative sector together.

The Backstage Centre has worked with creative people from the music, theatre, dance, events, television and film industries since it opened in 2012, and we are excited that now we are able to offer access to our spaces for community arts and education projects.

Students from the National College for Creative Industries and South Essex Colleges’ Further and Higher Education courses already experience projects and live brief work placements at the Backstage Centre and support activities in the building and around High House Production Park.

We want to receive design ideas for C.A.T.S from people in our community. Your design should encapsulate the ethos of the scheme. Your design should be a summary of creativity.

The C.A.T.S project will feature access to Film & TV, Motion Capture, Theatre, Music, Puppetry, Writing, Visual Arts, Costume, Technical & Production, Hair & Make-Up and Performance activities.

To submit your entry or if you are interested in contributing to C.A.T.S please email news@thebackstagecentre.com