Why creativity matters Stories of creativity Ukeo’s Magnificent 9 Ukeo’s Magnificent 9 is a group of amateur ukulele players over the age of 55, who meet at St Radigunds Community Centre in Dover once a week. The group started in October 2021 and came together after attending a tutored beginner’s course. When the course finished, the participants made the decision to continue as a self-led group. “We enjoyed it so much we decided to carry on,” says Wendy, one of the members. “We remained in the same venue as it was central to everyone, and St Radigunds was happy to host us at a cost we could afford.” The group plays a large selection of musical genres and members suggest music that brings new challenges so all the players can improve. They also have a non-hierarchical model where everyone has an equal say. Wendy explains: All members contribute to the group’s development through their individual talents. “Some research future music and some lead group sessions using their greater music knowledge. We set up a WhatsApp group that allows ideas and materials to be shared easily, and any key group decisions are discussed by everyone.” Ukeo’s Magnificent 9 was one of the many Kent groups awarded a microgrant from Creative Lives (funded by Colyer Fergusson Charitable Trust and Kent Community Foundation). “We used the money to buy a bass ukulele for the group, which offers members a chance to tackle a different type of ukulele and also helps improve the sound quality of the performances,” says Wendy. Members have found a range of benefits from being part of the group, including learning a new skill, companionship and an escape from current issues, as well as social interaction which has resulted in friendships blossoming beyond the group. The group has made significant improvements over a short period of time and members support each other in their learning. When they’re ready, they hope to look for different kinds of performance opportunities. For anyone else looking to start a group, here are Ukeo’s Magnificent 9 top tips for starting out: Set up a WhatsApp group for members Find a venue that everyone can get to Have the confidence to know you can run it yourselves; everyone has skills and you can do a lot with free information found online Make sure you have a summer holiday break, it helps to refresh and refocus You can learn more about the activities taking place at St. Radigunds Community Centre here.