I'm a mum of 3, living in Hackney for the past 15 years. I'm a blow in, but I feel more like a local. It's that kind of place.
Known for it's young, hipster population and rocketing property prices, this London borough is a creative melting pot and a real mix of "haves" and "have nots". According to most recent statistics, 41% of children in the borough live in poverty. That's a LOT of kids.
I believe that kind of economic disadvantage makes it almost impossible for those kids to lift themselves out of poverty and create the kind of future I foresee for my own three thoroughly privileged offspring.
As one of eleven kids from a not-so-privileged family myself, I’m a firm believer in the power of education and culture to create opportunities and brighten futures;
“Participation in Cultural activities can raise self-esteem, increase life chances, raise aspirations as well as provide positive opportunities that can contribute to citizenship and divert from anti-social behaviour." (Arts Council England)
Hackney is one of the most vibrant cultural economies in London. With all the creative, cultural venues we have on our doorstep, and all the efforts made (and money spent) by local government to encourage it, participation levels among lower income families are abysmal. There’s no excuse, right? Wrong. It’s no surprise that economic disadvantage is the biggest barrier to participation in the arts.
With this Arts Crusade, I want to get Hackney families and children participating in more of the brilliexcellent arts and cultural activities taking place on our doorstep. I want to see if we can start a grassroots movement to get families who wouldn’t normally visit a museum, or go to a play, or participate in #artyfarty stuff to do just that. Why? Because #artmakesyousmart and #cultureisgoodforyou!
So I’ll be listing lots of free cultural activities on the Facebook page, making suggestions on Pinterest and getting involved in conversations on Twitter. I’ll be exploring why the elitist view of the arts persists and I’ll be sharing the views of local artists and cultured folk, as well as their recommendations on how and where to get #artyfarty.
Anyone can submit suggestions and recommendations, comment is free and participation is very much encouraged! All sharing and tweeting and liking and following and ranting and contributing welcome.
This borough has been good to me. And I want to try to be good to it. One small step and all that. Here goes The Arts Crusade, hope you’re with me.
The Arts Crusader