Camberwell CAN 11/07/2017 Meeting Notes

This meeting of the Camberwell Community Action Network focused on all things cultural (and it turns out that there is an awful lot going on in the area – some of which you will read about below!).

A big thank you to Blue Elephant Theatre who kindly allowed us to meet at their wonderful space.


Before we get into the meat and bones of the discussion (or the polenta and quinoa if you aren’t a meat eater) here is a breakdown of some of the projects and organisations who were represented. Starting with an exciting announcement…

Blue Elephant Theatre

Who knew we had a theatre in Camberwell? Admittedly quite a few of us as BET is local cultural institution – a 50 seat fringe venue first established in 1999.

Niamh de Valera and Jo Sadler-Lovett are co-Artistic Directors of Blue Elephant Theatre, jointly programming the theatre’s seasons since 2013. The theatre has an eclectic programme, promoting cross-art-form work and all forms of theatre from physical and dance theatre to new writing and classics. Its aim is to nurture new and emerging artists across the performing arts.

They also have an educational programme that they roll out to schools and reach around 1000 people each year,

For more information about all the work that BET are involved with click here.

But now to the announcement – BET are pleased to be able to offer four week-long residencies to emerging artists, thanks to funding from the Idlewild Trust. These residencies are for the performing arts, particularly theatre and dance, to provide research and development time. The offer is:

  • 5 days space in Blue Elephant’s Theatre (Monday to Friday, 10am – 6pm) for research and development of a new piece. These weeks will likely be in January 2018.
  • £350 bursary towards the expenses of those taking part
  • Artistic, marketing, press and fundraising mentoring
  • Some technical support and the opportunity to present a showcase in their professional theatre

For more details click here.


Camberwell Fair

According to unverified sources a fair has taken place on Camberwell Green since the 13th century. I swear I’ve read that somewhere (quite possibly on the Camberwell Fair website). Anyway, after a break where Burgess Park became the host last year, the fair is returning to the recently refurbished green on the 22nd of July. The usual fun and frolics will be on offer (including the team here at Community Southwark!) which you can read all about here.

Organisers are keen to keep the fair free and, therefore, accessible to everyone so are currently in the final stages of a crowdfunding campaign. There are plenty of rewards on offer if you pledge such as two tickets to the sold out Shambala Festival, Dinner for 2 in Camberwell, Free Cocktails and T-Shirts and much more.

If you’re feeling generous, and want to see this fantastic addition to the summer calendar remain free, then click here.

Theatre Delicatessen

Theatre Delicatessen have been working with Southwark Council to transform The Old Library in Burgess Park into a vibrant new arts and cultural space for the local community.

Over the next few months, the Old Library will be transformed into a performance space for use by both the local and London’s wider artistic community, alongside rehearsal and development studios hosting residencies for emerging companies to develop new performances. Part of the project also involves the creation of a new public cafe space for park users.

To find out all about what kind of stuff happens at the Old Library, and how to get involved, click here.

Theatre Delicatessen has recently been involved in the @HOME festival in collaboration with the Southwark Refugee response (a collective effort between three Southwark-based refugee organisations). To see what you missed click here.


Southwark Studios

William announced, somewhat shockingly, that Southwark had lost around 60% of its studio space since 2014. This is in line with what is happening across London and highlights how important the Southwark Studios project is.

They will be building a new workspace complex for artists and small businesses in the creative industries near Tower Bridge Road in London, due to be opened in 2020.

They will provide a variety of individual studios with communal areas and a public Art Gallery showing free exhibitions and educational events for a public arts engagement programme.

For more information click here.


A glimpse into the future?

Camberwell Arts

Camberwell is a registered charity founded in 1994 by Selina Hamilton and a group of local residents and artists. They sought to highlight the diversity of the local arts scene by establishing an annual arts week and open studio programme. Later developing into the annual Festival, which, since June 1994, has become a regular feature in the local calendar.

They are BUSY! As you can see by clicking here.

Read on to find out about some non-culture related projects and a campaign!




Funding (or the difficulties in securing it) reared its ugly head – as it has often in discussions with Voluntary and Community Sector groups in recent years.

Projects simply cannot rely on one funder anymore and a fair amount of time is spent trying to identify other pots of money. Inevitable capacity issues arise as many groups or projects are run by small teams who struggle to find the time to hunt down funding opportunities and comple funding applications.

Demonstrating the impact of art and cultural activities/projects is often difficult – especially with ‘softer’ outcomes.

It was noted that Community Southwark (unsurprisingly by me, an employee of Community Southwark) do have a dedicated development team that will provide support and guidance to organisations and groups with funding applications.

Crowdfunding was raised as a potential source of income and is proving very popular in Southwark (as is demonstrated by Camberwell Fair’s attempts to maintain a free festival). Crowdfunding does have its issues though – namely it requires a lot of skill and dedication (and savviness) to run a successful campaign.


There is an awful lot going on in Southwark but no straightforward way to find out (apart from our handy Event Map of course!). It is also difficult, as a result, to promote upcoming events – not to mention laborious.

Possible suggestions for outlets included Southwark Weekender, Southwark Life, and Community Council Newsletters. It was felt that some of these platforms were difficult to engage with – for example despite their efforts the Camberwell Fair team were unsuccessful in getting the event into the latest edition of Southwark Life.

It was also suggested that it was often difficult to engage the local community and get them to events – especially workshops etc.

Premises/Southwark council

As mentioned Southwark has lost 60% of its studio space in the past three years. The regeneration machine is set to steamroller on with the classification of the Old Kent Road as an Opportunity area and plans afoot to extend the Bakerloo link down to Lewisham. The OKR has been a hotbed for artists and other creatives as space has been relatively cheap. Not anymore.

William has been working with Southwark council on developing a model that will see arts use be legally enforced through the planning system when development takes place. Watch this space.

Theatre Delicatessen is a good example of an effective use of a ‘meanwhile space’ at the Old Library in Burgess Park. Only problem is with the term ‘meanwhile.’

Attendees have felt frustration in dealing with the council and it is felt that there is a lack of communication between council departments. This was accompanied with the acknowledgement that council departments are under a lot of pressure to justify their work/expenditure.


Find out how to meet this little fella and his friend below…

Anything else?

The following is grouped under ‘miscellaneous’ (although just as important):

  • There are rumours that Southwark council will soon be announcing some funding for outdoor art projects.
  • There are also plans for a box park to be located on part of the car park at the back of Morrisons. Sketchy details so far although I’m feeling a blog post coming when we know more…
  • Community Southwark do have a broader creative network that a couple of attendees had engaged with. Much of the content of this meeting will be fed back to my colleague who runs the network as it is clearly relevant and important. More details here.
  • London Animal Hospital Open day is taking place on the 28th of July. Lots of cute animals guaranteed! More details here.
  • Local resident Bridget Bell has seen her campaign to reduce plane noise over Camberwell and the South East of London take off in recent weeks (geddit?). To find out more click here.
  • Jo runs a youth engagement project at Cambridge House which provides long term support to young people who perhaps haven’t had it as easy as most of us. She is actively looking for referrals so click here to find out how you can help.
  • Camberwell After School Project have been running for 32 years this September and provide plenty of stuff for kids to do! Especially over the summer. They have a holiday play scheme that has some free places and subsidised places available. Click here for more details.

If anyone would like more support in getting connected or developing ideas and initiatives please contact a member of our team:

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