Tag Archives: arts

What Next for Arts and Culture in South East London?

whatnext_mainWe believe that arts and culture are the thread that binds humanity together, what shapes us as people, and what makes life that much more enjoyable. Imagine a life without arts and culture. There would be no television shows, no music, no theatre and nothing to fill art galleries and museums. The world would certainly be bland and uninspired. So, we ask: Does creative stuff matter in South East London? We want to hear from you – anyone working or living in South East London – if arts and culture are important to the area.

What Next? Lewisham and What Next? Southwark are hosting a free Open Space meeting on Wednesday 12 November, 6.30pm at our sister venue Canada Water Culture Space. We’re inviting anyone who lives or works in South East London to join in the conversation about the role of culture.

What Next? is a national movement that has sprouted up all over the country, asking arts and cultural organisations to come together and strengthen the role of culture in our society, working with individual volunteers who are passionate about the role culture plays in our everyday lives and want to ensure its prominence in society for future generations.

The conversation will be a facilitated Open Space event. The essence of Open Space is to bring people together around a shared question and to discover priorities which can be taken forward into action. As to the outcome, that will be up to you!

We’ll begin with the basic question: How can we (individually and together) ensure decision-makers know that creative stuff matters in South East London?

All participants then create an agenda by calling breakout sessions on topics they feel are important to this theme. In Open Space, everyone is encouraged to suggest a subject for discussion and to contribute in whatever way they feel comfortable.

So, does creative stuff matter in South East London? If you think it does, join us for What Next South East London: Does creative stuff matter in South East London? to explore how we can ensure decision-makers know that creativity matters to local people.

For more information and to book your place, please click here.

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Stella Duffy on Why the Albany is the Perfect Home for Fun Palaces

Brockwell Lido Fun Palace, Image by Tom Parker

Brockwell Lido Fun Palace, Image by Tom Parker

Fun Palaces is a free, nationwide celebration of arts, sciences and culture, taking place on Saturday 4 & Sunday 5 October in 130+ locations across the UK and internationally. The event celebrates the centenary of cultural innovator Joan Littlewood and brings to life the vision she shared with Cedric Price for the creation of a ‘Fun Palace’. We are proud to be the national home for Fun Palaces, and also to be part of the Deptford Fun Palace. Ahead of this momentous weekend, Fun Palaces Founder and Co-Director Stella Duffy explains why the Albany is the perfect home for Fun Palaces.

I’m 51. I’ve been working in the arts since I was 18 when I got my Equity card. For many of us, perhaps especially those from my generation – those of us for whom not getting a ‘proper’ job (before you could at least get degrees in non-‘proper’ jobs) meant saying no to an office, no to a desk, no to a set place to work – for many of us, saying yes to the arts meant saying no to a home. We didn’t think we needed or wanted a home. We wanted to be ‘free’.

And free is all very well, but it doesn’t take long to realise that free is also scary, tiring, and that sometimes what we really want, as well as free, is a home.

A base, somewhere to work from, somewhere that understands the kind of work we’re trying to make, somewhere that understands the kind of artist we’re trying to be, that can hold us while we’re trying to be the kind of artist we might become. And it doesn’t matter what stage we’re at in our work, EVERY artist needs this kind of support, every artist is emerging to some extent, every time they make a new piece of work. We all need support.

I’ve been lucky, as a novelist and short story writer, to have this in the publishers I’ve worked with; I’ve been lucky as a performer and director to have this in a couple of the companies I’ve been part of – they are the companies I still work with. But I can count on the fingers of one hand the theatres and arts centres where I feel truly welcome, as either a writer or a theatremaker – where I honestly feel they ‘get’ the work I care to make. (Interestingly, for those of you who think being published might rid you of all your outsider feelings – none of the ones I feel particularly welcome in are those that consider themselves “writers’ theatres”. Maybe that’s why I call myself a theatremaker not a playwright …)

I don’t think we look for THE home, as artists, as makers, I think we look for A home. A place that gets the work we’re passionate about now, a base that can support us to reach further than we’ve reached before, a space that will let us run with an idea, even when it’s slightly (or very) excessive, even when we don’t really know what we’re doing (and neither do they), just in case it works. A place that is, perhaps more importantly, brave enough to say yes, knowing it might not work.

The Albany is that place for Fun Palaces. Crucially, it calls itself an arts centre. It is not only interested in theatre, it is interested in arts. And it is right in the middle of a vibrant, bustling community – it is part of that community, truly part of it. It’s no accident that Sarah-Jane Rawlings, my Co-Director in Fun Palaces, had been working at the Albany last year on Meet Me at the Albany when I asked her to work on Fun Palaces with me. Meet Me at the Albany is a creative arts club for older people – it’s the antithesis of a traditional day centre. Every Tuesday the café at the Albany is full of vibrant, busy, noisy, LOCAL people, who happen to be older people, making the Albany their home. Not being looked after, or catered for, but creating by and for themselves. It’s a Fun Palace. While we were getting Fun Palaces off the ground last year, across the UK and beyond, the Albany were already making a Fun Palace for older people in their own café.

Stella Duffy, writer, actorSo when we needed a home – and fast – earlier this year, the Albany was the obvious place to turn. And because the Albany gets it, because they were already doing it, they welcomed us in. They’re us, we’re them – two of our team are working for Fun Palaces and the Albany at the same time; the Albany are also part of the Deptford Fun Palace; brilliant people from Meet Me at the Albany feature in the new film on our website.

When Sarah-Jane told Gavin Barlow (Chief Executive and Artistic Director of the Albany) that we needed a home, he immediately offered us a home there. And yes, we have a formal letter of agreement, and yes, our finances are carefully ring-fenced, and we’ve both done all the correct due diligence we need and want to be doing as publicly-funded bodies … but much as we needed a home for the business side of making Fun Palaces, for the funding side, we also needed a home that got it. That understood not just what we’re doing, but why we want to do it. Why we would be prepared to work so hard, for so long, on a dream. Because it’s the Albany’s dream too, and has been since it’s inception as The Deptford Fund in 1894. Access that is real, not just lip-service. Engagement that is about working with people to enhance our community, not just to tick boxes. Making a difference where we live.

The Albany was the right place, because it was already doing it.

Just as every Fun Palace maker is, right now, in the final lead-up to the weekend, already being a Fun Palace –working with their community, being artists and scientists in doing so, doing the work to make their weekend happen – so too, do we have our home at the Albany – because they were already a Fun Palace.

Stella Duffy, Founder & Co-Director, Fun Palaces

Fun Palaces takes place nationally & internationally on Saturday 4 & Sunday 5 October. For more information and to find your local Fun Palace, click here.

The Albany is part of the Deptford Fun Palace taking place at various locations and with an assortment of organisations and individuals in the Deptford area. For more information, click here.

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Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Mark Williamson is the director of Action for Happiness, a movement for positive social change, bringing people together from all walks of life who want to play a part in making a happier society. As part NOW Live Events’ residency at our sister venue Deptford Lounge, Mark is giving a talk on the vital keys to happiness tonight, Monday 23 June at 7pm. We hope this video will shed some light on the value of tonight’s talk and even just spread some happiness and positive thinking.

Part of the London-wide Anxiety Arts Festival, a new festival exploring anxiety, looking at causes and how it affects our lives, including how it can as a creative force, NOW Live Events offer a sort of solution to anxiety by championing unique ways to savour the moment and live for the now rather than dwelling on the past or future. NOW’s residency at Deptford Lounge began today and runs all week with free workshops and talks until Saturday 28 June – click here for the full list of events.

For more information on Mark Williamson’s talk tonight and to book, click here. For the full listing of Anxiety Festival in Deptford, click here.

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‘Still I Rise’: An Exhibition by Nadine Walker, Inspired by Maya Angelou

Inspired by the beloved poem by the late Maya Angelou, Still I Rise, visual artist Nadine Walker presents a stunning exhibition about overcoming racism, criticism and personal obstacles through a series of images featuring women who are beautiful, strong, occasionally sensual and infinitely empowered, on now in the Albany cafe through Monday 30 June. The images are made using mixed media with digital editing to create striking portraits that portray inner strength and endless endurance.

 

 Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

(with illustrations by Nadine Walker) 

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You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may trod me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

 

Does my sassiness upset you?

Why are you beset with gloom?

‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells

Pumping in my living room.

 

Just like moons and like suns,

With the certainty of tides,

Just like hopes springing high,

Still I’ll rise.

 

Did you want to see me broken?

Bowed head and lowered eyes?

Shoulders falling down like teardrops.

Weakened by my soulful cries.

 

Does my haughtiness offend you?

Don’t you take it awful hard

‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines

Diggin’ in my own back yard.

 

image (8)

 

You may shoot me with your words,

You may cut me with your eyes,

You may kill me with your hatefulness,

But still, like air, I’ll rise.

 

Does my sexiness upset you?

Does it come as a surprise?

That I dance like I’ve got diamonds

At the meeting of my thighs?

 

Out of the huts of history’s shame

I rise

Up from a past that’s rooted in pain

I rise

I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,

Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear

I rise

Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear

I rise

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,

I am the dream and the hope of the slave.

I rise

I rise

I rise.

 

image (14)

While completing her MA in illustration, Nadine’s lecturer challenged her to craft an image using both visual art and text. At the time, Nadine was reading one of Maya Angelou’s books and stumbled across a poem she immediately connected with, Still I Rise, leading to her inspiration for this exhibition. She shared her love of the poem with her year 7 and 8 students from Virgo Fidelis Covent School in Norwood- challenging them to illustrate the poem. She ran a competition across 8 classes, selecting four to join her in her exhibition: Akalia Newland, Tahreem Sattar, Shafia Ali and Tia-Louise Bryan.

Nadine Walker is an art educator, graphic designer and illustrator from Lewisham. She has participated in collaborative and solo exhibitions across Central London, most notably being selected by the BBC as one of 20 artists invited to visually document the HM Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Thames Pagent.

For more information about Nadine and her work click here.

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