Black Sheep Collective: changing lives with arts

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By Brontë Schiltz
Black Sheep Collective CIC uses the arts to engage with marginalised people and communities in Milton Keynes. INSP spoke to founder and director of theatre and outreach, Georgia Tillery.
INSP: Tell us about what you do.
Georgia Tillery: I work with communities to reduce barriers to access arts and performance. A lot of my work is based within the community, so I work with various people – young people, adults, people from refugee backgrounds, people displaced in youth hostels in our local community.
The aim of my work is to use theatre as a vehicle for connection, building a sense of belonging, sharing stories, and also developing new performance strategies and techniques.
How did you get involved in this kind of work, and how has it evolved?
I trained in Liverpool and then returned to Milton Keynes, and I felt that there wasn’t any work being created in the local area that represented me and my interests. I’d been to performing arts school, where I’d developed lots of different techniques, and I thought, I want to put these into practice, but there was nowhere to do it.
Being the young, 21-year-old whippersnapper that I was, me and my best friend decided that we should create something ourselves, and that’s where the idea of the organisation came from. We’re made up of very different projects and strands – we saw that our interests and skillsets complemented each other, so we decided to create something new.
We named ourselves Black Sheep Collective because we went in doing something very different to what was already happening.
We were almost going against the flock when we set up what we doing, so it was nice and fitting, and when we were entering spaces where we were presenting our ideas, we were seen as that black sheep – a bit out there and a bit strange!

It’s stuck with us, and we’ve kept that branding moving through the 10 years that we’ve been running the organisation, and the work has just naturally developed through our own learning.

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