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Stepping Stone Studios the arty cafe for cool cats


We have used the space for exhibitions, talks, film screenings, private parties, gigs, launches. And we keep a series of events which we hope add some creative leanings to your usual nights out. Poetry, comedy, jazz, live music, Soul, now the lovely late night cafe and micro-pub ales and ciders to top it off. It’s been a great ride and we love to be able to be here doing it.

The studio was started by a group of innocent early-20-somethings, with a love for culture in our hearts and time on our hands. It opened in April 2012 through a grant from KCC’s Small Community Capital Fund and was initially only going to be private studios for individual artists. It took a bunch of individually skilled and enthusiastic contributors volunteering and plugging in to the idea to make it happen. We restored a 2 storey building from a hairdressers into a studio, gallery and cafe, and opened doors to our first weekly programmes with the jam night and life drawing class. ​The journey since then has involved a heck of a lot of people, creatives, professionals alike.

The aim has always been to do things for artists, and inspire culture in sub-cultures, as well as to be able to get up and act as artists ourselves. A valued part of the studio, for example, is the membership system which connects us to many local artists we can call on to take workshops, show work in exhibitions or play gigs. We set out to build a place that represents creative culture the way we see it, and to house and connect local love - relaxed and informal, yet proactive and inspiring. Everything you see at Stepping Stone Studios is the result of people who have got involved along the way, and got their hands dirty to help make it happen. We love everyone who’s made their mark on the studio and always welcome new people to the scene.


(Available until 6PM) FRESH SOUP served with artisan bread EAT IN LUNCH DEAL 12 – 3pm ½ soup & ½ sandwich OR sandwich with tea or coffee SANDWICHES – served in white/brown bread, pitta, baguette or bagel with nachos & side salad Artisan bread+ £1 SO SIMPLE Egg mayo / tuna cucumber / cheese & tomato / ham CRUNCHY VEGAN - raw veg, hommous, salad BIG CHEESE - mature cheddar, sundried tomato, caramelised onion SQUEAKY VEGGIE - warm med veg, halloumi, salad SUPER ITALIAN - prosciutto, mozzarella, sundried tomato, olive, pesto CLASSIC FARMHOUSE - thick cut ham, mature cheddar, pickle, salad CLUCKING SPICY - cajun chicken mayo, pepper, tomato, jalapeño BANGING DELISH - pork sausage, caramelised onion CLASSIC BLT - bacon, lettuce, tomato FISHY DOORSTEP - melted mature cheddar, tuna, pepper, caramelised onion ULTIMATE CLUBBER (add £1 for lunch deal) - pork sausage, bacon, fried egg SALADS served with warm pitta - RED LENTIL & WARM MEDITTERANEAN VEG - GRILLED HALLOUMI, WHITE BEAN & BEETROOT - WARM CHICKEN & BACON - TUNA, SUNDRIED TOMATO, OLIVE, GREEN BEAN & FRIED EGG LITTLE NIPPERS includes a glass of squash - ½ SO SIMPLE SANDWICH & NACHOS - FRIED EGG & TOASTED SOLDIERS - SAUSAGE & WEDGES

£3.50 £5.50

£3.75 £3.75 £4.20 £4.50 £4.50 £4.50 £4.50 £4.50 £4.50 £4.50 £5.00


£3.00 £3.00 £3.50

(Available until 10PM) BAKED TREATS SLICE OF CAKE TRIPLE CHOC BROWNIE SAVOURY TART SAUSAGE ROLL NIBBLES CHORIZO IN BIDDENDEN CIDER YAKITORI CHICKEN SKEWERS HALLOUMI, PEPPER & TOMATO SKEWERS WEDGES WITH CAJUN MAYO MARINATED OLIVES GARLIC BREAD NACHOS with melted cheese & jalapeño HOMMOUS with warm pitta PIZZAS MARGHARITA – mozzarella, tomato SPICY VEG – med veg, jalapeño SPANISH – chorizo, olive CAJUN – cajun chicken, pepper, onion REGINA – chunky ham, mushroom POSHO – prosciutto, caramelised onion MEAT LOVER – chorizo, chicken, ham

£2.50 £2.20 £2.00 £2.00

£2.50 £2.50 £2.50 £2.00 £2.00 £2.00 £1.50 £4.50 £4.50 £4.75 £4.75 £4.75 £4.75 £5.25

EMMA WHIITALL Founding Director

“Enjoys philosophy, thinking positively about progress, and social entrepreneurship.”

Setting up Stepping Stones Studio When I got out if university I was still reeling from the intense hours I’d out into my final year exams. All I had been looking at for months were black and white pages of dense philosophical texts, and for someone who’d always dreamed of doing an art degree, writing a 2000 word essay a weeks on the finer points of Kant’s Transendental deduction wasn’t something I really felt came naturally. The jump from uni to real life actually hit me pretty hard. I realised I had never had to talk about myself in terms of my competences and skills, and even though I’d been quite active at uni, writing a CV that read well about me and got me into the jobs I wanted to be in was impossible. I had no idea where to start. And I had no idea what kind of jobs were out there. And I had no idea who the fuck I was really. I should have just gone to art college like I dreamed, but I diverted that track, and now I was stuck on the other side of a degree in classical philosophy with my hard earned 2:1 and yet no one seemed to be hiring philosophers in 2011. Deciding I wanted to be an artist seemed to put me on track. Not really just deciding to be an artist, but deciding to follow my passion was the most liberating

thing, rather than trying to conform to what I thought I should be doing. As soon as I made a decision as to what I was passionate about, steps toward it started falling into place. If you can secure on something you’re really passionate about, and are desperate enough to throw caution to the wind and follow it, I believe you’ll end up doing something you love. And when better to take a risk that when you’ve got nothing to lose- penniless philosophy graduate started writing a business model. The business model was this: I need a studio. Other artists must need a studio. If we get a big building and spoilt it up into little studios, many artists can hire studios and that way we’ll pay the rent on the building. Boom, business model, apparently. It was more a desperate solution to my first hurdle to becoming a brilliant artist than a business idea, and certainly not one that I thought would forge my early career. Anyway, soon I had built in the idea of a membership and exhibition pricing, and had started going around Maidstone, Rochester and Chatham looking for suitable buildings and talking to people in all the shops trying to find out a bit more about the culture scene around Kent. There is one!

This is what they call networking, although I had always Creating your own job is weird ‘cause you’re not thought of ‘networking’ as a really contrived experi- really sure how much you really want to take out if the ence, this way of networking felt natural and productive. company which you are working so hard to build, but we People put me in touch with other people and I started know after a year and a half had gone by and at least making appointments to see members of council to tell 3 of us were still putting in 6day weeks, reality kind them about the idea. After some research it turned out of hits in, no matter how socialist you want to think. that Maidstone borough council had tried to initiate an Getting our wages is the best thing cuz we know we Arts at the Centre project which generated a livelihood through hadn’t épée ally kicked off, and pure passion and teamwork. “Deciding I wanted to luckily my idea fit the cultural I wouldn’t change a thing about plans for the town. Somehow I the experience of setting up the be an artist seemed made a convincing funding applistudio- the place has become my to put me on track.” cation to KCC and was awarded world and I’ve met all my best £12 000 to set up the project. My best friends through this place. I won’t pretend it hasn’t Since I’d asked for £22 000, I didn’t have the budget I been turbulent and stressful at times. It is the biggest needed, however, I went ahead and signed the lease anyway. thing my wee self has ever done so far and it’s pushed One if the thing that I recall is that even from the me to my limit as an individual. Overall the studio has beginning I spoke about the company as a the collective, taught me a lot about myself, and how to work with using the word ‘we’ even before I’d met anyone who was people, and how to be patient. It will remain one of the most going to help me do it. Awesomely, the more I talked rewarding jobs I will ever do - the fact that we can put our to people, the more support I got for th project, and skills together and make something that didn’t previously many local young people offered their help to get it exist get up and running and people turn out to love it too, is going, from webdesign to painting the walls to build- incredible. ing shelves and creating posters. New friendships were forming and people who’d lived in the same town Come feel the love down here man, I’m telling you :) for years were finding they had something in common with what were previously strangers. I guess a microcommunity started to form, and we were all sharing a vision for the potential the studio held for each of us.


Bookings and Promotions Manager “Jon is a writer, the son of a vicar, and our live events guy.”


I guess young people really struggle when starting out in life after school. We come from a generation of people who were taught to think that university is the gateway to success, yet so many graduates these days can’t find jobs or there’s this long demoralising wait between graduation and finally getting hired. Whether this is a failure of political parities in power, or just the fact that prospects are genuinely limited and it’s hard to get noticed (who knows). But dreams, visions and goals are the only thing getting you out of bed when the cold reality of freedom kicks in and your carefully composed cover letter illicits no response, and your kicking yourself for doing English literature and watching films for 2 years and when you worked so damn hard for a round 2:1 in final year AND YOU KNOW YOU COULD’VE GOT A FIRST IF YOU hadnt done ALL THAT COKE IN THE FIRST TERM. When I found Stepping Stone Studios I had been working for a film company for six months and was being paid £50 a week for 45 hours work. It was a transcript-writing job in which I was plugged into a computer for 8 hours typing what I heard like a monkey in a lab -no sense of social interaction – no satisfaction. I was surrounded by people locked in a banal routine that involved

hourly tea top-ups and mild excitement for that day’s biscuit choice but which drained the life and soul out of me really. I decided that the film industry was not for me, at least, maybe I needed another entry route...But living in a village in Kent I had no idea where I could go. On a whim I took myself down the Volunteer centre in Maidstone, to see if anything remotely cultural was happening in my hometown. Much to my surprise I discovered that there was an art studio, which had recently opened, not exactly the sort of thing I could’ve dreamed to occur in Maidstone, but a bit of a find. I went to meet them. As it happens there were a lot of cool people doing interesting things there. Who knew? I mean, I knew that cool cats were out there somewhere – but I would never have met them at the pub. I was tired of the pub and getting smashed dub step raves! And there were no live music venues in Maidstone at that time so no one else seemed to be doing anything, except maybe resigning themselves to a part time job at Morrisons and making sure they had 20 left of job seekers to get a bag of weed that night. I like getting smashed, I do.

But in my heart of hearts What I’m really into is reading Dostoevsky in my pyjamas in the living room stroking my cat, but you can’t always tell people that when you first meet them. Anyway, meeting the studio crew was a blast because everyone volunteering there was so damn motivated to come in and work everyday. I was put on doing the twitter cuz I kept a blog and had a twitter, so i don’t know if it really felt like work. It was just nice to be out of the house you know? And chatting to people and finding friends to follow in twitter, and posting tweets that I would never actually say like ‘hey hope you’re having a great day! have you heard of the new local art studio in Maidstone?’. Well it was a proper community run project then so I had to take on the voice of the brand. And we were kinda squeaky clean back then. These are some things I learned. It took a while to get to the bit where I’m booking bands from across the uk, and there’s a definite period of hard work to come as I actually have to programme a 7day film festival and help build 3 cinemas into the studio as we try to make the darn place visible to the outside world. there’s actually a lot you can do to promote online for free so we hit the Facebook and twitter hard. Another great thing, turns out doing a company’s social media is a real job so I’m learning new things everyday, and learning how to work with everyone else who are constantly cross communicating between cafe and bar and events and workshops and urban garden projects :), and I’m creating my own job. I eventually found my passion putting on gigs by one time I asked for a date and put on a gig. Starting with a few local bands, then contacting further afield. It’s so fucking doable I was surprised. Then I started getting paid for it. You’re seeing the events build and it’s awesome as you see more and more people coming in who like 2 piece instrumental progressive rock bands, share your interests like, and you start to think ‘ hey this towns not all that bad, these people are pretty cool’. Also got up and shouted some poetry - that got a pretty nice little literary evening going every month. The place is, I guess, about getting people together over music, or a shared interest in writing private shit in notebooks, and you go to this cool event rather than the pub. And it’s not an hour a way in London it’s just here. Cuz why the fuck travel on the train to a pub to read poetry? Or pay £400 a week for an exhibition upstairs in a framing shop no one is ever going to see. Do it in your town. Do it at Stepping Stone Studios. Create the scene. Lots of different people of all ages find a use for the space, for the art-hobbyists, the daily cafe, for scouting new music. As we build our profile we can meet more people and do more exciting events and more promoters come In and want to do events with you so there’s always new connections. It’s just about plugging into something bigger than yourself. Stuff happens. It’s really good fun.

MUSIC EVENTS Weekly and regular events

BORN BRAVE JAM NIGHT • EVERY WEDNESDAY AT 8PM - FREE • The born brave jam night is an organic open mic night for musicians of all levels. The night begins at 8pm with a series of showcase slots moving into an open mic where improvisation and percussion lead us into the night. open til 1am. Turn up on the night and put your name down to perform, or simply enjoy the music. LIVE ON THE COUCH: ACCOUSTIC SESSIONS • EVERY THURSDAY 4PM TO 7PM - FREE • Happens every Thursday evening and features special accoustic and solo acts in a comfortable after-work setting. An ideal combination of light live music and a relaxed atmosphere, perfect to unwind and catch up with friends before the end of the week. OPEN DECKS / IPOD NIGHT • FIRST FRIDAY FROM 8PM - FREE • Sometimes you want to go out and hear the music you like to play. If so, our open decks and ipod night is your night. By putting your name down upon entry, you can play dj with your ipod, invite your friends and rock out to the music you’d play in your living room. The floor is yours! GIG / “NOISY” GIG • SECOND SATURDAY FROM 8PM - FREE • ‘Gig’ is our local bands slot. it should be called (noisy) gig, because it tends to get quite noisy. with a usual set list of up to 5 bands, ‘gig’ is the night to let your hair down and absorb the bass.

PLUGGED OUT • EFIRST SATURDAY 8PM - £5 ENTRY • Sourcing fresh upcoming talent from across the uk, this night is really about bringing choice musicians to maidstone town as they work their way up the nme press association list. One to watch for quality and new music spotting. EXTERNAL SLOT • SECOND FRIDAY FROM 8PM - PRICE VARIES • This night is reserved as a platform for external events groups and promoters to take over the venue and show us their styles. The night promises to be varied, ranging from funk and soul vinyl djs, to mod-rock, hip-hop, live music, and more. AN ACTUAL INDI NIGHT • THIRD FRIDAY FROM 8PM - £3 ENTRY • An actual indi night is an indi night with integrity. We play indi music all night long, and we dont play indi/dub remixes. Cuz its not indi. Thanks. THE COMEDY CLUB • THIRD SATURDAY OF THE MONTH AT 8PM - FREE • Set informally in the cafe, upcoming comedians from around london and the south east perform new material that will keep you giggling til sunday. THE ALGO QUIZ NIGHT • FOURTH WEDNESDAY AT 7PM • The algo quiz is a side splittingly hillarious pub quiz run by two guys who know how to write quizzes. Both stimulating and fun. followed by jam night. THE DEF POETS SOCIETY • FOURTH SATURDAY AT 8PM • Deliberately informal, the poetry night is about getting up there, whether it’s 3 lines on a napkin, or a 3 page epic rhyming poem.




e believe that art should be something accessible to everyone. Art is not high brow. It's not about knowing all the works of the distant past masters or relishing pure abstractions in confined sterile spaces.

Art comes from a person's creative imagination and personal experience. Every person has an artist in them, we like the space to explore that. The visual arts have value both in the creating and exhibiting side, while music is big in that sense - calling artists - get involved! We aim to run a space where ideas can flow and be put into action. The DJ you want to hear, here. The studio photography you always wanted to do, arranged. That free jazz party you always thought of having? A weekly kids art workshop that you always thought would be so handy?

THE URBAN GARDEN PROJECT A-wandering through Maidstone, there’s always lots to see, many people bustling around, Outside KFC. But what’s that down the Alley Way? Is that a sea of green? Wild flowers, carrots, tomatoes too, Is this really what I’ve seen? Yes! It’s an urban garden! Growing chili, sage and spinach! There are people having tea and cake, Like is a Kentish country village! I must be at the Alley Café The only place in town, That’s making soups and sandwiches, From seeds they’ve sown around. We aim to grow a garden, outside our sweet café, So you can come and chill, relax, In the garden alley way! :)

Please donate recyclcable materials! We are looking for all things like Compost, Wood for buildings, old Spades, Seedlings, Cuttings, Flower Boxes, Mesh, Twine, Lining, Potting Pots! All and ANYTHING to do with gardening! If you are putting the gardening gloves on this season and have any extras or offcuts to unload, don’t throw it away! Drop is down to: Stepping Stone Studios 2 Museum Avenue (Off Week Street, Alley next to KFC) ME14 1QX Phone: 01622 675 923 Email: OPEN TIMES: WED-SAT 12 - Late! Thank you for your Support



Emma is the top lady. She believes that ordinary people are capable of amazing things; the places we go and people we meet are the crucial stepping stones along the way. Enjoys philosophy, thinking positively about progress, and social entrepreneurship.


Maren supports the Team with the organisation of art events at the studio gallery. She usually lives in Berlin and works for cultural institutions. One of her further challenges will be to build up an Urban Garden infront of the studio.


Jon is a writer, the son of a vicar, and our live events guy. Proudly our first apprentice in Music Business, Jon likes to listen to upcoming bands and ask them to come here so we can all listen to them as well. He’s quite serious about it. Check out his blog at: www.jonathanterranova.


Internationally born photogrpaher, Mickele has extensive experience in organising and runnin live events. Healines on social media co-ordination and basically builds everything for the studio. Right now building up the URBAN GARDEN.


Katie opened her first cafe at 18 years old. This lady knows food and has increbilble experience to team with her passion. From baking to fish-mongery, and market kitchens, Katy is owning the Alley Cafe from March 2014.


Will joined us in 2014 to lead on improving and developing our evning bar service. With 10 years experince managing top natioanla restaurants, Will handles late-night front of house with great style. He is also a fantastic magician!

CONTACT Please feel welcome to get in touch with any of us here at the studio! •

You can phone on 01622 675923, or email us at 2 Museum Avenue, Maidstone, ME14 1QX Stepping Stone Studios @St_StoneStudios

Stepping Stone Studios Brochure  

This is a brochure that our team created for a client known as Stepping Stone Studios. This is a project that we had to do as one of our c...

Stepping Stone Studios Brochure  

This is a brochure that our team created for a client known as Stepping Stone Studios. This is a project that we had to do as one of our c...