Children in Corby now have a unique opportunity to not just learn drama but to give back to local community groups and charities, thanks to a new drama school set up by actress Ellen Gayle-Harewood, with support from Growing Corby.
Mariposa Drama runs weekly drama classes in Beanfield Community Centre for children aged 4-10, with students learning theatre and drama in a fun and safe environment.
At the end of the 12-week programme students perform in a Showcase, with proceeds from ticket sales going to local charities. Ellen involves the children in deciding which local groups they would like to support, helping them to connect with the community in which they live.
Ellen is also hoping to inspire students to support local groups in other ways, through packing shopping bags at the supermarket, volunteering, or completing physical challenges.
Mariposa Drama has been set up as a social enterprise, as a result of support from Growing Corby, as part of Ellen’s desire to give back to the local community.
Ellen, who has appeared in children’s TV shows including Woof! and Go Wild, numerous plays and Theatre in Education productions, is passionate about drama and its power to inspire children. She said: “For many years now l have been involved in acting projects that give back to local communities, whether that’s by working with children with learning disabilities or underprivileged children in countries like Dubai.
“When l returned to the UK a year ago l knew l wanted to continue working in theatre and drama but also do something that would benefit my local community. This is how Mariposa Drama was born.
“I’m not very business minded and so l started talking to different people about what l wanted to achieve and someone recommended l speak to Aruna Bhagwan at Enterprise Solutions Northamptonshire. Aruna has been a huge help to me as part of the Growing Corby programme, and it was Aruna that first introduced the concept of social enterprises to me and how they work.
“Straight away it seemed the perfect fit with my aims and objectives for Mariposa Drama and Aruna has supported me every step of the way giving me invaluable advice and connecting me with the right people.
“Our drama classes are proving extremely popular and every week the children surprise me with their energy and enthusiasm. I am really excited to see how the children develop and the impact we hope to have on Corby’s community groups and charities.”
Aruna Bhagwan is Social Enterprise Adviser for Enterprise Solutions Northamptonshire, and is working closely with Growing Corby on providing advice to social enterprises in Corby, she said: “Ellen and Mariposa Drama is the perfect example of the type of support we can provide to organisations like this. For many people starting out in business, they can be unsure as to their options with regards to how they set themselves up and some, in the case of Ellen, have never heard of social enterprises.
“We aim to educate individuals and organisations on social enterprises and present them with the facts so they are equipped with the information to make the right decision. If, in the case of Ellen, they decide to establish a social enterprise, we can then provide ongoing support so they have the best chance of succeeding.”
Anthony Richardson is Marketing and Communications Manager for Growing Corby, he said: “Growing Corby is a business growth initiative for all types of businesses, whether they are for-profit or, in the case of Mariposa Drama, social enterprises. We work alongside Enterprise Solutions Northamptonshire so that we are able to offer expert advice and guidance to individuals like Ellen, who are setting up a business with clear objectives, with profits going back in to the community.
“Ellen is a very inspiring person and we are delighted to be supporting Mariposa Drama. It’s a fantastic initiative for Corby and we look forward to seeing how the organisation develops.”
The Growing Corby programme is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and offers support for SMEs in Corby such as market research, grants of up to £2,500, free coaching and an internship service.