Elaine McGinty

Elaine McGinty along with partner and band member Joe Buckley founded Phoenix Cultural Centre CIC in 2011 to bring a permanent community led, non profit, cultural, arts, live music and training venue into their town that, despite a rich music and diverse multicultural heritage, currently had none.

They put music on the streets, in pubs, cafes; original live music and musicians and mentoring them to more opportunities and ran a free community festival Phoenix Rising. In 2013 they took over a small shop next to the Job Centre and offered space for training and confidence building to people who had life interrupted and needed to get back on their feet. They hosted beginner’s open mics, affordable or free guitar and vocal lessons, writers workshops and health and wellbeing. In 2018 they signed a 2 year lease on a 1000 capacity disused nightclub offered by the local council to make a successful pilot to prove a case for a permanent venue. Thus the Fiery Bird Venue became another part of the Phoenix story and is thriving, offering more workshops, music, training opportunities and supported work experience.

The building is scheduled for demolition; the challenge is on to secure a permanent base in the town, because, you start where you stand and strong communities make kinder choices, both locally and globally.


Elaine McGinty's Project

Phoenix Cultural Centre CIC/Fiery Bird Live Music Venue is a local project to bring a non-profit live music/cultural/arts/training venue to Woking. Though specific to Woking its founders have connected up with other social and community businesses nationally to share practice.

Elaine McGinty's Tweets


@CormacRussell Missing is also an understanding of collective memory & trauma. You can’t be shitting on people, and then go in and say you are ‘place making’, or whatever the latest fad is, without acknowledging the pain caused, and the need to be apply corrective justice.

@CormacRussell 3 things that mattered to me as a community worker
1. Plain language - engage no I listened, talked, discussed. Jargon free
2. Honesty, trust and never promising what I couldn't deliver.
3. get out of "community meeting" go where people are, join in not expect them to join me.

@CormacRussell Yes + no; I think we do need simple toolkits that anyone can use. #LiberatingStructures have done this well: https://www.liberatingstructures.com/ Look how they've spread! No need for heroic facilitators, wise experts. Liberating Structures democratised its tools, put them in everyone's hands.

@CormacRussell Co-operative approach for Living High Streets:
Community led placemaking via continuous conversations structured around challenging questions and prompts
7 'thinking hats' to maintain openness/flow
Lightly but expertly facilitated and supported
Evaluated, monitored and refreshed

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