PRESS RELEASE: Local Art Collective and Community Group awarded £203k for 3 year creative programme

Walthamstow based Wood Street Walls CIC and William Morris Big Local have been awarded funding for a three year programme that will use arts and creativity to support community-led change in the Wood Street and William Morris neighbourhoods.

Walthamstow, East London - Two Walthamstow based arts and community organisations have been awarded over £200k in funding from the Local Trust to help deliver creative and cultural activities in the areas where they based. The project, “Urban by Nature”, named to reflect the communities they work in which border Epping Forest and the Lee Valley, will work with local people to commission new activities for the benefit of residents and businesses.

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Urban by Nature

The Urban by Nature collaboration is one of two locations in London - part of a group of 14 nationally, selected from over 800 applications - to receive funding from the Local Trust’s “Creative Civic Change” programme. Funded by The National Lottery Community Fund, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and Local Trust, the initiative is a shared desire to create a deeper knowledge and understanding of what community-led cultural activity looks like in action.

Consultation and feedback sessions were hosted in the area, resulting in over 900 pieces of feedback to help shape the programme which targets activities with, by and for young people. The programme will cover the locations of Wood Street and William Morris and draw on the wider Walthamstow community for support and partnerships. Residents, local businesses and creatives are encouraged to continue to provide their suggestions for the long term program via the "What Do You Want?" website as continued consultation.

The Programme

The initial programme contains the following highlights:

  • A Pop-up programme to enable young people to connect with peers, develop skills and have new creative experiences through takeovers, schools partnerships and creative enterprise development
  • Creating a new object lending library in Wood Street to compliment a sister project in development in William Morris
  • Creative Courts - a programme to turn basketball courts into giant works of art to help promote grassroots basketball and fund basketball sessions for local residents
  • A new Urban by Nature studio space run by Wood Street Walls CIC, with 5 new maker-spaces, co-working desks and food prep areas for local street food operators and creatives to provide much needed creative infrastructure for the borough.
  • A Crowdfunding hub on civic crowdfunding platform Spacehive, with drop in support and development sessions for people to help realise their own ideas for creative events and activities for the area with both in kind and financial support.
  • Street Art Tours - local residents will be trained to take people on local tours. Funds raised will enable the project to pay a London Living Wage to the newly trained tour guides and raise further funds for the Urban by Nature project.
  • An International Arts Exchange Program - starting with partnerships with Art House Jersey (video below) and Waterford Walls in Ireland, that will see local creatives visit areas overseas and lay on exchange trips for young people to visit emerging destinations.
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Business Partnerships

An ambitious part of the project is forming business partnerships to help give people new pathways into the creative industries. Working with local businesses, Urban by Nature plans to develop new products in collaboration with these businesses to generate new revenue for the project, long after the three year programme completes, with a view to creating a sustainable model for creative programming locally.

Quotes

Urban by Nature is an invitation to everyone – it responds to the most human of needs – to be connected to others, to learn and to express ideas. We have developed an exciting programme that will evolve as we go based on what we are picking up from the ground – this is the great thing about the Creative Civic Change fund – our partners deeply understand that communities change and need time to build relationships and understanding in order to create relevant offers. Our partnership is led by amazing volunteers who live and work locally – can’t wait to see what happens

Lawrence Walker, William Morris Big Local and Urban by Nature Co-Lead

People are at the heart of what we do and we believe it is important for them to get involved, have their say and make the changes they want to see. It’s thanks to National Lottery players and this partnership, the Creative Civic Change programme is building stronger networks within communities, whilst bringing them together to tackle issues that are not only affecting them individually, but collectively as a whole

Sarah Benioff, Director of England at The National Lottery Community Fund

Launch Event - Walthamstow Cricket Club - June 9th

To celebrate the funding, Urban by Nature partners will be hosting an event in partnership with the Walthamstow Village Pre-school to help raise funds for the pre-school’s annual trip. There will be fairground games, live performers, mini golf and creative activities, as well as a stall to find out how members of the community can continue to shape the programme.

About Wood Street Walls

Wood Street Walls has three main goals as an organisation:

1. To bring public art to our area of East London for residents and visitors to enjoy, to encourage greater footfall and custom to local business. We have looked to other successful initiatives over the pond such as Wynwood Walll

2. To provide free periodic workshops for the charities, school children and beyond - to build a connection between the artistic and local community and help develop grow new talent for the next generation of artists.

3. Our final and biggest goal of our project is the establishing of a new creative hub for the area: Wood Street Studios, by repurposing a disused and derelict building in the area. According to a study commissioned by the Mayor of London, in 5 years over 30% of the current 14,000 artists in London will no longer have a place to call their own due to rising rents and land being developed by residential housing.