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Barking and Dagenham

Art attack Creative craze: talent flocks to Barking and Dagenham

CGI of masterplan is indicative and subject to change


One of the country’s leading developers is investing for the long term in Barking and Dagenham. Look out for exciting new places and high-quality homes for everyone to enjoy.

Film focus: directors discover perfect locations Issue 7 Arts and culture Autumn 2016

Thinking theatre: street performers put on a show

Everyone’s talking about the problems with renting. We’re solving them.

be:here Barking coming in 2018

be:here is a new approach to the private rented sector. • We create vibrant new communities and then ensure they act as catalysts for local regeneration • Our homes are designed specifically for rent. For example our 2 beds have two equal sized bedrooms that both enjoy en-suite bathrooms • We have an on-site management team who resolve any issues as soon as they arise and look after the buildings • We provide a range of additional facilities and services that makes people’s lives easier such as superfast broadband, extra storage and dry cleaning • All of our charges are fair and transparent • In short we’ve looked at every aspect of the rental experience and created a complete package that offers renters a distinctly better deal.

be:here schemes also available in East India (letting now), Hayes (Reserving now) and Kew (2018). Part of the Willmott Dixon Group

Apprenticeships, Traineeships, Higher & Degree Apprenticeships

“BDC are an excellent training provider they listen and more importantly they act!” Denize Halton Pre-Construction Manager

Whether you are a sole trader or a multi-national, well trained employees will keep your business healthy. To develop the skills of your workforce effectively, you need �exible training options that are designed around your business. That's where Barking & Dagenham College Business Engagement Team can help. Supporting you with bespoke training through to Apprenticeship at all levels Sup all are fantastic opportunities for you to equip your business with the most up-to-date skills around to give yourselves an edge against competitors. Talk to the Employer Services Team at Barking & Dagenham College today. 020 3667 0333

“The London Borough of Redbridge needs skilled people to operate in themodern economy and BDC provide us with those skills, from entry to higher level, in a superior quality learning environment with a professional service” Ann Butler Workforce Development Manager



COVER IMAGE: Acrobatics at the Broadway Theatre IMAGES: Barking and Dagenham Council, Mark Sepple, Jimmy Lee, Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, Studio Egret West, Patrizia UK, Anita Adeshina, Sheila Burnett, Joseph Obasi, Jaybright Media, Jeff G Photography UK, © BBC, Des Willie / Kudos / Channel 4 PRINTED BY: Park Communications PUBLISHED BY: 3Fox International Sunley House Bedford Park Croydon CR0 2AP 020 7978 6840

For the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham David Harley, acting head of planning and regeneration Town Hall, 1 Town Square Barking IG11 7LU © 3Fox International Limited 2016. All material is ­strictly copyright and all rights are reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without the written ­permission of 3Fox International Limited is strictly f­orbidden. The greatest care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of information in this magazine at time of going to press, but we accept no responsibility for omissions or errors. The views expressed in this ­magazine are not ­necessarily those of 3Fox International Limited.

6 6 NEWS


The latest developments and updates from Barking and Dagenham.

Acting, singing, dancing, painting: the borough’s artistic scene is thriving.



The six-year project for people working, living and socialising in the borough has spurred Barking and Dagenham’s creativity.

The summer festival programme in 2015 to mark the borough’s 50th anniversary has created successful yearly events.

18 MAP


Mapping out the borough’s creative quarter and other significant cultural sites.

Facts and figures summarising the latest achievements of this east London borough.

Barking and Dagenham’s film office has attracted big-budget production companies to shoot films, TV shows and commercials at sites throughout the area.




An immersive outdoor performance of The Merchant of Venice was just one of this year’s cultural highlights.



The Ice House Quarter on the River Roding is evolving fast and new studio space means artists aspire to work here.


NEWS New masterplan for Barking Riverside approved A new masterplan to build 10,800 homes at London’s largest regeneration site has been approved with a new target also set for affordable homes. The London mayor, Sadiq Khan, has given the go-ahead for the new masterplan, which brings the affordable housing allocation up from 28% to a minimum of 35%, with provision to raise it to 50% over time. This will be looked at through additional investment and viability reviews. Khan said the site had “enormous potential to deliver thousands of the homes Londoners so urgently need”. “I’ve made it clear that tackling London’s housing crisis is my number one priority,” he added. “Fixing this problem will be a marathon, not a sprint, but developments like this one will play a huge part in our efforts to provide genuinely affordable homes to buy and rent.” A joint venture between the Greater London Authority and L&Q, Barking Riverside is being developed on a 180-ha brownfield site on the northern banks of the River Thames, which was home to three power stations and a landfill site until the 1990s. Khan has also announced he is considering

the case for an extension of the Overground from Barking Riverside across the Thames towards south-east London. Setting out a package of new river crossings to be built in the next five to 10 years in east London, Khan said he would carry out assessment work for connecting the future station at the site with Abbey Wood. The proposed Barking Riverside station will be subject to a public inquiry. If the scheme is approved, construction should begin in 2017, with train services to and from the site starting in 2021.


The golden age of Barking The history of Barking will be the subject of a lecture by an Oxford University professor at Eastbury Manor on 23 November. Professor George Garnett will hold a 45-minute session on “the first golden age of Barking”. It will explore the history of Barking Abbey, founded in the mid-seventh century, shortly after the conversion of the English to Christianity, by Eorcenwald, bishop of London, for his sister Æthelburg. Recent excavations have revealed buildings and objects connected to the abbey and its occupants. A medievalist and expert in early modern history, Garnett has published studies and essays on English and Norman history from the 10th to the 14th century, on medieval and early modern political thought and on legal history.

Talent production Barking and Dagenham College has acquired status as a digital and creative career college for the 2016-17 academic year, the first such institution in the country. Students will benefit from technical training designed to equip them with the skills to work in television, theatre and cinema. The aim is to prepare them for film industry careers, as the number of productions shot in the borough continues to grow. Pupils will be able to choose from courses ranging from 3D design to film-making, and from performing arts to TV production. They will be trained in an industry-standard 1,000sq m creative hub, or ‘#TheChannel’ – a real-life newsroom replicating the studios of Sky or the BBC.

MAYOR AND LEADER IN FILM STUDIO DISCUSSIONS Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Barking and Dagenham’s council leader, Councillor Darren Rodwell, are exploring the possibility of creating what would become London’s largest film studios in Dagenham. Film London and the London Local Enterprise Panel (LEP) will work with Khan and Rodwell to carry out a feasibility study into what would be the first TV and film studios to be built in the capital for 25 years. They would be built on a five-ha site in front of the Londoneast-uk business and industrial park in Dagenham East. The site is being considered because of its large size and good connections to central London – accessed on the high-frequency District line, adjacent to the site. London’s film industry is thriving. It is the third busiest city in the world for production – after New York and Los Angeles – and attracted investment of £1 billion from international film productions last year. New studio space to meet a rising demand is seen as critical to maintaining this success and the facility would help London’s bid for more productions from overseas. Permanent jobs could also be created in Barking and Dagenham if the studios were built, with an

increased demand for workers in fields as diverse as carpentry and sound technology. The council and London LEP will invest up to £80,000 to develop a business case for the proposal, looking at the potential economic benefits for London. Khan, who visited the borough on 6 October 2016 to discuss the proposals with the council, considers culture a top priority for London, with the so-called creative industries accounting for one in six jobs in the capital and 800,000 in total. Khan said: “London has a vibrant production history and some of the best studios in the world. “To sustain and grow this success it is critical that the capital gets significantly more studio capacity to maximise the opportunities for filmmaking. London is open to the best creative and cultural minds and I am looking forward to exploring whether a new film studio in Dagenham could help the capital’s film industry thrive for years to come.” The mayor also visited the creative Ice House Quarter and met with Barking and Dagenham’s cultural connectors group. Discussions were held about affordable studio space in London, and Khan met artists based at the IceHouse Court.



A tower of homes for Barking

PLANS FOR VICARAGE FIELD LODGED Plans for the redevelopment of the Vicarage Field shopping centre in Barking have been submitted to Barking and Dagenham Council. Developers Benson Elliot and Londonewcastle have lodged an application to transform the site and provide up to 850 new homes, a primary school, a cinema, a music venue with a capacity of 300 people, a 150-room hotel, healthcare facilities and flexible enterprise space for startup businesses. The scheme, designed by architect Studio Egret West, will also include new restaurants and shops, as well as a cycle hub and basement parking. According to Benson Elliot, the project will create 1,000 full-time jobs,

with half aimed at local people. Located on a 2.1-ha site opposite Barking station, the 14,490sq m existing shopping centre was built in 1991 on Barking Football Club’s former ground and bought by Benson Elliott in June 2015. Peter Cornforth, director of retail at Benson Elliot, said he expected the regeneration of the site to play a “pivotal part in shaping Barking’s long-term future”. More than 200 people responded to public consultation events on the plans in 2016, with 74% backing them. Barking and Dagenham Council now plans to hold its own consultation and a decision is expected to be made later this year.

Fundraising sought for Bobby Moore statue Barking and Dagenham Council is raising funds to build a statue in honour of footballer Bobby Moore, West Ham and England’s only World Cup-winning captain. On the 50th anniversary of the 1966 victory, the local authority has launched a crowdfunding campaign, calling on residents to pledge donations to support the project, which will create a tribute to Moore


in his home town of Barking. The aim is to reach a £167,574 ‘pledged’ fund before opening a design competition to the public and submitting a planning application. The “people’s statue”, as it is referred to, would be built at the crossing between Station Parade and Cambridge Road, by Barking station. Councillor Darren Rodwell, leader of the council, said: “We are

A 28-storey tower containing 198 build-to-rent apartments is to be developed next to Barking station. Patrizia UK announced on 17 June 2016 it had acquired Trocoll House from Coplan Estates. The developer plans to create a 13,935sq m tower, which will feature 92 one-bedroom and 106 two-bedroom apartments designed for the private rental sector. The scheme will also provide basement car parking space, three rooftop gardens and three retail units across 1,170sq m. James Muir, managing director at Patrizia UK and Ireland, said: “This transaction is in line with our build-to-rent strategy of targeting urban centres with strong demographic fundamentals, while adding further weight to the company’s focus in the sector.”

extremely proud as a borough that Bobby Moore was born and grew up in Barking and it is important that we honour this great man. “We need to remember the iconic people that come from the borough, including footballing heroes.” Former West Ham stars Harry Redknapp and Frank Lampard Snr have backed the campaign, along with former England manager Terry Venables and West Ham United captain Mark Noble.


SECOND PHASE OF ESTATE RENEWAL APPROVED Phase two of the renovation of an estate in Barking, which is to provide 470 homes and a school, has been given the go-ahead. Barking and Dagenham Council’s cabinet approved plans in July 2016 for the second stage of the Gascoigne estate, which is to be renamed Weavers Quarter. Working with development partner East Thames Group, the council has also pledged £106 million and agreed to start rehousing the residents of the blocks earmarked for demolition. Councillor Dominic Twomey, cabinet member for finance, growth and investment, said the council’s vision was to create an “attractive and prosperous” new community, with the new school at the heart of it. The cabinet decision comes as

work is also progressing on the first phase of the scheme: 382 homes have been demolished and 21 new properties for shared ownership and subsidised rent are being developed. Completion has been scheduled for early 2018. Plans for the estate renewal project, which will include further phases, involve building 1,575 homes, new primary and secondary schools, an energy centre, a community centre, play areas and retail space. The project is expected to be complete by 2024. According to Trevor Burns, executive director for development, sales and asset management at East Thames, the development has the potential to “completely transform Barking town centre”.

Work starts on Ford Stamping Plant scheme Demolition work has started on a 17-ha site, part of the London Riverside Opportunity Area in Dagenham, with plans to develop a mixed-use scheme featuring more than 2,500 homes. Dagenham Dock – a joint venture between land promoter St Congar and real estate fund manager Europa Capital Partners – announced the acquisition of the former Ford Stamping Plant off Thames Avenue at the end of May 2016. Work began in the last week of September. The disused site, operated by the Ford Motor Company for 90 years until 2013, is within the area earmarked by the Greater London Authority as a key location for homes, jobs, infrastructure and growth. Developers plan to create a mixed-use, residential-led scheme comprising 2,650 homes. They said the project should serve as a catalyst for the area and that it will integrate with the neighbouring Beam Park development. Steve Taylor, director at St Congar, said the site was “one of the most exciting growth opportunity areas in London”. Barking and Dagenham Council’s leaders welcomed plans for the site. Councillor Darren Rodwell, leader of the council, added: “Dagenham Dock’s plans for the site support our ambition to generate growth that will benefit local people and, at the same time, accelerate the capital’s development eastwards. “It confirms our position as London’s growth opportunity.”


The Estates & Agency Group is delighted to support Barking and Dagenham’s vision for the arts as part of the Borough’s continuing regeneration

The Estates & Agency Group has a strong track record of successful involvement in Barking and is committed to the continuing exciting regeneration of the Borough Sites Previously Developed by E&A

Current Property Holdings


Roding House Cambridge Road


Maritime House 1 Linton Road


Abbey Retail Park Abbey Road, Barking


Central House Cambridge Road


50-74 Station Parade Barking


Clock House East Street, Barking


Focal House 12/18 Station Parade


Radial House Ripple Road


Trocoll House Wakering Road

Capital Trading Estate Alfred’s Way (not on map)

BOLD Creative industries

Art from the heart

Lucy Purdy looks back at the newly extended Creative Barking and Dagenham programme. What has been the secret of its success? 12

BOLD Creative industries

FROM THEATRE performances in surprising places to the commissioning of new films, the output of Creative Barking and Dagenham (CBD) so far has proved varied and impressive. Outgoing programme director Miriam Nelken, who wrote the business plan for the project back in April 2013, describes her time at its helm as “a total joy and privilege”. From initially getting funding for three years, it has transformed into a six-year project and will continue until at least 2019. Its mission is to get local people developing and experiencing outstanding arts and creative activities, and to promote the borough as a place where exciting art is created and shown. It is funded by Arts Council England’s Creative People and Places, and the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham. At the heart of the programme are the cultural connectors, an open and growing network – currently consisting of 135 local residents who are the decision makers and advocates for CBD. Any adults based in the borough can join it. Cultural connectors are currently aged between 16 and 68, come from all walks of life and backgrounds, and live across the borough. They have been given a programming budget of Below: Geraldine Pilgrim’s Well at the former Sanofi factory received glowing reviews.

about £600,000 across the first three years of CBD and, as Nelken asserts, “they’ve really made some brilliant things happen”. “We launched the programme in October 2013. It has been a total joy and privilege to see the plan becoming a reality and to watch the difference the project is making to the area,” she says. Projects have included theatre performances in old factories and market places, commissioning new films and installing artworks on the underground and outside Valence House Museum. “We’ve also supported the professional development of the local arts sector. This has led to an increase in aspiration and ambition, more residents getting involved with existing local arts organisations and groups, new resident-led arts groups forming and new spaces emerging for culture in the borough.” CBD has been run on a core team Cultural connector, Susanna Wallis: “Being a cultural

connector is a chance to have your voice heard locally and to have influence on cultural and creative events in our area. What’s not to love about that?”

of just three people – two part time – and is overseen by a consortium of local organisations who support and govern it as part of a steering group. This is led by Studio 3 Arts, the grant holder for CBD, which led the original bid for Arts Council funding. It also involves the council, a community and voluntary umbrella organisation – Barking and Dagenham CVS, Barking Enterprise Centre, the Broadway Theatre, London-wide creative organisation for children and young people – A New Direction, and four cultural connectors. In the past three years, residents have commissioned and programmed more than 500 artists and arts organisations to make and present work in the borough and curated four new festivals. Around 30,000 people have seen and taken part in these projects and events. CBD also organises trips to arts events and venues across the UK to spark seeds of inspiration as to what Barking and Dagenham residents could make happen back in the borough. So what challenges was CBD set up in response to? Barking and Dagenham was eligible for funding from the Arts Council because levels of arts engagement in the borough are low compared to the rest of England – Barking and Dagenham was in the bottom 20% in 2013. Says Nelken: “A really key challenge was this sense that the arts were irrelevant to most people, that they were mainly for kids or ‘posh people’. There was also quite a bit of cynicism and mistrust over how decisions in the arts were made. The local arts sector was quite fragmented and it was hard for local residents to get an overview of what was on offer.” But this wasn’t the whole picture, as she soon discovered. “We uncovered that although people weren’t getting involved in large numbers in subsidised arts, there were lots of people doing their own brilliant creative and entrepreneurial things. People were making their own clothes, knitting, putting on popular


BOLD Creative industries

community events, making jewellery and other crafts and getting involved in amateur dramatics. There are loads of amazing dancers in the borough as well as great photographers, filmmakers, wig-makers, candle-makers and soap-makers, but these people doing their enterprising creative things often didn’t know each other – and didn’t know about other outlets for their creativity in the area.” So CBD focused on building a new creative community and improving connections between people and the places they were in. Three years in, and perceptions are starting to shift. “Our evaluation has told us that as a result of CBD local residents have better networks and support structures, feel more connected to their area, enjoy living there more and feel greater pride in saying that they are from Barking and Dagenham,” says Nelken. “On the artistic side we’ve had rave

Cultural connector, Robin Dixon:

“It’s a spark, a catalyst. We’ve got well over 100 cultural connectors now and if we can grow that, we can use them as a political resource towards getting the arts supported.” reviews for work that local people have commissioned in The Times, Guardian, Observer, New Statesman and others. Barking and Dagenham is now making a name for itself as a place where interesting creative things are happening. We’ve also attracted nearly £500,000 additional funding into the area and enabled 15 local people to access paid creative work in the borough.” When asked to pick a highlight of her time with the project, Nelken struggles. “There are too many. We’ve worked with incredible artists including Geraldine Pilgrim who

transformed the former Sanofi factory in Dagenham East into an incredible theatrical experience called Well. It involved a massive community cast including lots of ex-factory workers who found it a very moving experience. It was incredible to get permission to work in such an amazing space that had played such an important role in Dagenham’s history. “We also loved working with Punchdrunk theatre company, which brought a fabulous Halloween fair to Eastbury Manor House and is now working with lots of schools in the borough. And artists Close and Remote made a really thoughtprovoking and beautiful film about the last 50 years of working lives in the borough and the impact of globalisation on the area.” Nelken also notes the artist Verity-Jane Keefe’s “brilliant” Mobile Museum (a four-year, multi-strand project) and the artist Harald Smykla’s Below: Young people in the borough demonstrate their artistic flair at DagFest 2016.


BOLD Creative industries

Above: Parsloes Park hosted The Colour of Time by Artonik at 2015’s One Borough Community Day.

Above: The Merchant of Venice, performed on Barking’s streets during the summer festivals programme.

stall on Barking Market on which he created art from fruit and veg. “It was a real joy and hugely popular.” “Having our photographs of Dagenham people and places installed in large scale in three underground stations for the next five years, and possibly beyond, in a partnership Cultural connector, Miro Tomarkin: “I never used to

tell people where I lived when I was talking about my art, now I’ve actually started to say I’m an artist from Dagenham.”

with TfL [Transport for London] was fantastic. Creating a beautiful permanent artwork – the This Used to be Fields mural by Chad McCail – is something we’re all really proud of and Studio 3 Arts’ The Merchant of Venice, which was commissioned by our ‘Landmarks’ strand of work, took place across Barking and was given a four-star review in The Times. And our ‘Festivals’ strand has also been a personal highlight.” But aside from any particular event, she insists that what is truly special about the borough is the residents. “There’s such a sense of people

Cultural connector, Hajara Nassimba: “I am very

proud to be a cultural connector. To me, CBD is something that keeps me going, knowing that I live in a place where things are happening. The connection it’s giving the community is massive.”

making things happen for themselves. I’ve never met so many inspiring entrepreneurs. There’s a real DIY ethic here and a huge willingness to embrace new ideas and take risks. People are ambitious and they care about making life better for people in their area. I’ve never had a job before where I felt so much a part of a community and where I was made to feel so welcome. This project has been powered by the energy of hundreds of amazing local residents and couldn’t have succeeded without them. “It’s also been really helped by great leadership in the local authority – the leader has done an amazing job of raising the profile of Barking and Dagenham and understanding the central role of culture in placemaking and there are fantastic culture, regeneration, heritage and libraries staff at the council who are really visionary in the way they approach their roles. Barking and Dagenham is a really special place.”




Photos: Performers at the Broadway Theatre, the proposed East Brook Studios, Cllr Darren Rodwell enjoying a festival - photo Jimmy Lee, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan visiting The White House in Dagenham, a production of The Merchant of Venice by Studio 3 Arts - photo Mark Sepple.



15 minutes


Barking and Dagenham is London’s Growth opportunity for the creative industries. With the Barking Artist Enterprise Zone and proposals for a Film industry cluster at Dagenham East, the Borough can play a key role in retaining the Capital’s creativity. We already have a strong network of partners:

...and we’re keen to welcome more. John East Strategic Director – Growth and Homes 020 8227 5124

David Harley Acting Head of Regeneration 020 8227 5316

Daniel Pope Acting Head of Planning 020 8227 3929



12 10


18 13

09 08

Abbey Road

East Street 11


Abbey Green and Abbey Ruins



05 15




07 01 02





Barking artist enterprise zone Developments in Barking Town Centre KEY POINTS OF INTEREST


01 Ice House Quarter: The Malthouse, The Boathouse and The Granary 02 IceHouse Court studios – Bow Arts 03 Studio 3 Arts, Open Estate, Living Museum 04 Studio 3 Arts Galleons Centre 05 Abbey Leisure Centre – including The Idol UPNEY 06 The Broadway Theatre STATION 07 Riverside moorings 08 Technical Skills Academy 09 London Road/North Street 10 Barking Enterprise Centre 11 ‘Secret Garden’ Folly Wall

KEY PROPOSALS 12 Linton Road – proposed artist work/living space 13 Transformation of Barking market 14 Cambridge Road creative arts hub 15 Three-screen cinema and Care City 16 Rivermill Lofts (and creative industries units) 17 Town Quay masterplan area 18 Vicarage Field (proposals include music venue and cinema) 19 Barking Wharf development (including creative industries and museum space)

e Road


Ice House Quarter Riverside walk Gascoigne East (Weavers Quarter) Outside performance spaces


BOLD Arts and culture

Below: Dance performances took place on the streets of Barking this year.

Putting on a show Art and culture are central to Barking and Dagenham’s growth plans – creating jobs and a vibrant community. Lucy Purdy charts the latest twists and turns 21

BOLD Arts and culture

CONCENTRATED AROUND Barking town centre and the Ice House Quarter on the River Roding, artists, designers and makers are being attracted in droves. While expanding creative quarters and excellent facilities make them come, great support networks persuade them to stay: Barking is now a hotspot for London’s burgeoning creative sector. Working with a host of impressive partners and backed to the tune of £250,000 by the mayor of London, Barking and Dagenham Council’s proposal for the capital’s first Artist Enterprise Zone will help keep artists in London, providing new outlets and opportunities for their talents. This is necessary, because the city’s artists are on the move. Rocketing

rents are pricing young creatives out, particularly in east London. In April, the IceHouse Court studios opened for business in Abbey Road, providing 409sq m of much-needed affordable workspace for around 20 individual creative practices. Arts and creative services organisation Bow Arts won a tender to create the workspaces there, teaming up with architect Delvendahl Martin. They came up with a clever internal studio layout and partition designs to make an immersive and productive workplace. The building is now filling with artists. As David Harley, acting head of regeneration at the council, points out, the enterprise zone is just the latest achievement for the borough.

Our ambitious plans for Barking Artist Enterprise Zone seek to harness strong partnerships and networks “Our ambitious plans for Barking Artist Enterprise Zone seek to harness the strong partnerships and networks we have already established with organisations such as Create London, Bow Arts, Studio 3 Arts, Creative Barking and Dagenham, Barking and Dagenham College and the Barbican and Guildhall,” he says. “The Artist Enterprise Zone has a dual focus — recognising London’s artist exodus and the need to deliver affordable living and workspace for artists to retain them in the capital but also supporting homegrown talent to flourish through programmes like Creative Barking and Dagenham [a six year Arts Council-funded project]. The real success will be the two elements coming together.” The IceHouse Court studio complex is just the latest hub in Barking, where inspiring arts venues and commissions are beginning to become commonplace. There are dance studios at the new Abbey Leisure Centre, the Galleon community centre, a gallery, performance space and music studio, occupied by Studio 3 Arts and, coming soon, a new three-screen cinema. Choosing partners who have strong track records of getting good things done has helped the area’s cultural


BOLD Arts and culture

Above and below: The Broadway Theatre hosts a huge variety of drama, dance and music events. Opposite: The IceHouse Court provides space for creative practices.


BOLD Arts and culture

offering grow and prosper. Creating space for artists and others working on cultural projects has been a priority in the borough. Says Harley: “The council has identified a pipeline of more than a dozen sites in the borough providing potential for new artist workspace. We recognise that it’s not just workspace that artists are having trouble affording, it’s also living space. Therefore our key project with Create London [an organisation that helps artists to connect with communities through various projects] aims to deliver work and living space at affordable rents. The scheme, with London Regeneration Fund support, aims to be a model for creating such units in new builds.” And through a number of recent planning approvals, the council has secured new ground floor workspaces for artists. “The leader’s message to artists is clear,” adds Harley. “‘Don’t move to Berlin, move to Barking’.” Making a place feel vibrant is about more than just streets and bricks and mortar, and so placemaking agency Future City has been enlisted to help develop a strategy for Barking Riverside. A brand new neighbourhood is being created along 2km of Thames river frontage here, and arts and

culture is likely to be at the heart of the new community. Already no stranger to the benefits of a beautiful riverside location is The Boathouse creative studios, a venue now moving into its second phase. “Since our launch in autumn 2014, we’ve been testing the market as the area has been developing quickly with new homes springing up all along Abbey Road,” says The Boathouse creative director Carole Pluckrose. “The first phase of our plan was to raise public awareness of the

The leader’s message to artists is clear: Don’t move to Berlin, move to Barking

Thanks to facilities like The Broadway Theatre, young and creative people are flocking to Barking and Dagenham.


venue and cafe by offering pop-up opportunities, performances, jazz and comedy as well as attracting classes and hiring out our studios. Now, as we move into phase two, we are delighted that the cafe is being refurbished. This will create a wonderful new environment for us.” Derrick Daniel took over operations of the cafe in August 2016. It is scheduled to open soon and will adopt a new seafood theme. Poised to swell with an artistic crowd, original cocktails will be served up, as well as locally produced food and drink. The space will transition from a cafe to a bar in the evenings. “The cafe will work synergistically with The Boathouse studios,” says Pluckrose. “We will continue to offer a wide variety of experiences, events and workshops including a regular jazz club coming very soon, along with open mic and comedy nights. Local photographer Jimmy Lee will be mounting his first street photography exhibition in the autumn. His is a great story: made redundant from the building trade in his 40s due to a back injury, he picked up his camera and has discovered an enormous talent.” Pluckrose says her personal ambition is that The Boathouse continues to encourage local people to

BOLD Arts and culture

Studio 3 Arts put on a production of The Merchant of Venice in June 2016.

find joy in the arts. “It will increasingly be known as a wonderful place to visit and spend time, enjoy all sorts of arts and to meet each other,” she says with real warmth. And after initially getting funding for three years, Creative Barking and Dagenham has transformed into a sixyear project – poised to carry on until at least 2019. Now one of the borough’s cultural institutions, this is all about getting local people developing and experiencing outstanding arts and creative activities. It also aims to promote the borough as a place where exciting art is created and shown. Creative Barking and Dagenham is funded by Arts Council England’s Creative People and Places fund and by the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham: it recently received £735,000 from Arts Council England for the next three years. At its core are ‘cultural connectors’, an expanding network of adults living locally, who make decisions about which projects Creative Barking and Dagenham will undertake. Outgoing programme director Miriam Nelken says: “It has been the brilliant local residents in our cultural connectors network who have inspired me and kept me going. “They’ve given their time so generously, made me laugh lots,

have come up with amazing ideas and have had the energy, passion and commitment to work with us to turn the ideas into reality.” Even at this stage, Nelken and her team have a keen eye on the project’s lasting influence. “Looking forward, we will have a huge focus on legacy,” she says. “We want to build new relationships with a wider range of funders so that even after funding from the Arts Council is gone, the work can still continue. “One of the ways we’ll do this is by supporting the cultural connectors to register as an official group – perhaps as a CIC [Community Interest Company] – so they can fundraise for their ideas and continue to develop their influence in the borough. “We’ll also be rolling out a new professional development strand for the local arts sector: a new programme which develops our neighbourhood commissions working in areas of the borough that have low arts provision.” Over at the Broadway Theatre, the council spotted an opportunity to support the creative industries while developing a skilled workforce, as well as improving opportunities for employment in the borough. In December 2014, the council agreed new management arrangements for the theatre, giving

a lease to Barking and Dagenham College until 2023. Since then, the small but dedicated team has been curating a diverse community programme, helped along the way by a partnership with the Barbican Centre and Guildhall School of Music and Drama. It also runs the likes of At Home At The Broadway which gives up-andcoming producers the chance to use space and test their work, in exchange for putting on workshops or offering their skills in other ways. The theatre was already home to the college’s performing arts faculty and so students get the chance to develop their craft within a working professional theatre. Mark Civil, executive venue manager, says: “Students these days are really a very different beast. They know they need to network and make contacts if they want to succeed and also that they will be up against students from less economically deprived areas. They want real experiences to put on their CVs. “Working on shows here gives them something really interesting to put on their university application forms. The technical aspects of theatre can be very dry if not being applied in a real-life context. The theatre gives students the chance to really test their mettle: it’s what I call an industrial playground, where they can really learn and hone their craft. Our students have quite often found when they go to university that the experiences they’ve had here put them on a par with second year students.” Affordable and within 15 minutes of London, Barking also has one of the youngest populations of all the city’s boroughs and so getting things for creatively minded young people today is important. Barking and Dagenham’s arts scene is going from strength to strength, bringing people together in surprising ways, and making the most of their inherent creativity. The borough is putting on a show alright: it seems like the beginning of a long and successful run.


BOLD Festivals

Access all areas

Clockwise from above: Chas & Dave draw the crowds at the Roundhouse Festival 2016; this year’s Barking Folk Festival featured Folk Dance Remixed; acrobatics at the steam and cider fair; Billy Bragg headlines the 2015 folk festival.

In the summer months, a series of festivals are drawing the crowds in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham. James Wood finds the popularity of these events shows no signs of abating in 2016 DAGENHAM LOCALS have fond memories of the annual town show, which last took place when the Olympic torch passed through the town before the London 2012 Games. Over the following two years, with the council facing increasing budgetary pressures, many of these residents had to travel outside of the borough in


search of summer cultural pursuits. But in 2015, under the stewardship of council leader Darren Rodwell, a series of music, arts and community festivals proved so popular during the borough’s 50th anniversary celebrations, that several have now become annual events. Paul Hogan, the council’s

BOLD Festivals

commissioning director of culture and recreation, is in charge of organising the programme and says: “They have really engaged the local community and we have seen an unprecedented number of people who have turned out at the events. The festivals are family friendly, fun and accessible to all parts of a really diverse community.” From local folk hero Billy Bragg strumming a guitar beneath Barking skies to colourful explosions of powder in Parsloes Park, barely a weekend has gone by in the summer months of 2015 and 2016 when some sort of festival hasn’t taken place. With the borough council planning to continue the festival programme until at least 2020, BOLD picks out some of the highlights. Barking folk festival A hero to fans of politicised folk music, Billy Bragg is proud of where he was born and grew up. “I always end my set with, ‘My name is Billy Bragg, I’m from Barking, Essex,’ he told Guitar and Bass magazine in 2015. “Even though I don’t live there anymore, I’m quite proud of being the Bard of Barking.” And it was that line with which he introduced A13, Trunk Road to the Sea at the free-to-attend Barking Folk Festival in 2015. The song Bragg closed his set with at the Abbey Ruins references the history of the Ford automotive factory in Dagenham


BOLD Festivals Pictured: Barking Folk Festival 2016 featured headliner Badly Drawn Boy (below) and Sound of the Sirens (right). Below right: BMX and folk dancing at the 2016 One Borough Community Day.


immortalised in the film and stage show Made in Dagenham – and also the A13 road which links central London with Barking and Dagenham and south Essex. Bragg, with tongue firmly in cheek, uses the music of Bobby Troup American road-trip classic, Route 66, on the track. But in a borough with the sort of diversity which – according to the local authority – sees around 130 languages spoken in its schools, the idea of the folk festival is to create a broad appeal. “We want it to have a really diverse line-up, featuring folk music from all over the world and not just England,” explains Hogan. In 2016, eastern European and Indian musicians were on the bill. The headliners at this year’s event were Badly Drawn Boy, who won the Mercury Music Prize in the year 2000 for his album, The Hour of Bewilderbeast and the critically acclaimed, fiddle-playing folk singer, Seth Lakeman. Also on the 2016 bill was BBC Radio 2 Folk Award 2014 nominee, Lucy Ward, who proved a popular addition, as well as Elliot Morris, recently tipped as ‘the next big thing’ by BBC Radio 6 Music, among others.

Traditional dance from different countries and theatre performances and workshops programmed by the Barbican gallery also added to an eclectic line-up. Following public feedback from the first event that fewer venues would be preferable, the number of locations was reduced from five to three in 2016. Barking Town Square, Abbey Green and the Abbey Ruins were used for events where patrons could also enjoy folk tales and storytelling, as well as a range of craft and food stalls and a licensed bar. Roundhouse music festival The London Borough of Barking and Dagenham was once home to one of the UK’s premier music venues. In the early 1970s, the Dagenham Roundhouse hosted the likes of Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, The Velvet Underground and Fleetwood Mac. Such is the inspiration for the Roundhouse Music Festival, which has taken place in Dagenham’s Central Park during the August bank holiday weekend for the last two years. Those in attendance have enjoyed performances by tribute bands at the event, which evoked the spirit and

BOLD Festivals

music of The Who, Status Quo, Pink Floyd and Queen in 2015 and Genesis, Elton John and T.Rex in 2016. Novelty cockney pop act Chas & Dave also performed this year and a battle of the bands competition, showcasing local talent, was won by The Lucettas in 2015 and Into Horizon in 2016.

The festivals are family friendly, fun and accessible to all parts of a really diverse community

One Borough Community Day Barking and Dagenham Council hosts the popular One Borough Community Day. The festival in Parsloes Park at the end of July brings out thousands of people in the borough – a diverse range of ages, backgrounds, nationalities and ethnicities. In 2015, crowds were drawn to performances from Kenny Ball Junior and his Jazzmen and the MOBO award-winning Living Faith Choir. The weekend also featured a performance of Artonik’s The Colour of Time, a music and dance show with explosions of colourful powder, reinventing India’s Holi festival, known as the ‘festival of colours’. Those nostalgic for the annual Dagenham Town Show, which ran until 2012, have reportedly been thrilled that a strong community event has returned to the place.


BOLD Festivals

Away from the football, crowds were entertained by an Ed Sheeran tribute act, camel racing, Vivica Jade from the BBC singing show The Voice and the Colourscape exhibition, featuring music and dance inside a labyrinth of colour and light.

3 Daft Monkeys enjoying their performance at the 2016 Barking Folk Festival.

Crowds of up to 15,000 for the two years that the festival has run confirm its popularity. The 2016 event adopted a football theme, marking 50 years since England won the World Cup. A large part of that success was down to West Ham United players – the club located nearest the borough. These included Martin Peters, who is from Chadwell Heath, Sir Geoff Hurst and Barkingborn Bobby Moore. Even the manager of the ‘66 team, Sir Alf Ramsey, is connected with the borough, having been born in Dagenham. Many people in the area support West Ham, including council leader Darren Rodwell – something he makes no secret of. During the festival, ex-players at the club, Tony Cottee and Tony Gale were live in the ‘tactics tent’, the 1966 final – which finished England 4 West Germany 2 – was screened in full and the musical entertainment also had a ‘66 connection. Chris Farlowe, who headlined the main stage, was number one in the charts that year with Out of Time, which was written by The Rolling Stones. Football tournaments saw Randall Contracting win the ‘Corporate World Cup’ and Dagenham’s Valence Primary School the ‘Schools World Cup’. The triumphant students were treated to a bus tour of the arena before collecting their medals.


Steam and cider fair It is an event more likely to be found in a rural shire to the west of England rather than Old Dagenham Park in London, but the steam and cider fair (below right) is a big summer draw. Now known as a bustling east London hub, it may seem strange that the borough was once seen as a more

Crowds were entertained by an Ed Sheeran tribute act, camel racing and Vivica Jade from The Voice

Council leader Darren Rodwell and Studio 3 Arts’ Liza Vallance get involved in the folk festival.

rural place to live and the aim of this festival is to celebrate this past. Attracting up to 18,000 people, the steam and cider fair showcases steam engines, machinery and classic cars, such as vintage Fords, which most likely would have been produced at the famous automotive factory based in Dagenham. This year, the Thrills and Spills arena featured family entertainment such as sheep racing – dubbed ‘The Lamb National’ – and the ‘Country Superstars’ Experience’, where the audience watched tributes to Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers and Garth Brooks, over a cold glass of cider.

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year 5 students took part in Little Radio, performing songs they had written about living in Barking.

24 films, TV shows, commercials and music videos shot in Barking and Dagenham in the last 18 months.


creative events, workshops and activities organised as part of Creative Barking and Dagenham.

£250,000 provided by the mayor of London for Barking and Dagenham’s Artist Enterprise Zone

£735,000 from Arts Council England to support Creative Barking and Dagenham (2013-2019).


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26,000 people involved in Creative Barking and Dagenham’s cultural activities since 2013. Four-star review in The Times for The Merchant of Venice, performed by Studio 3 Arts in Barking in July 2016.

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Up to 15,000 people attended One Borough Community Day at Parsloes Park in summer 2015 and 2016.

100,000 people attended the borough’s


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Up to 18,000 attendees for the steam and cider fair at Old Dagenham Park.


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BOLD Theatre

Acting up

The creative community is working hard to engage residents with culture, and thanks to the likes of Studio 3 Arts, is finding unique ways to inspire people. James Wood reports

Above: The final scene of The Merchant of Venice was performed in the council chamber.


BOLD Theatre

IT HAS BEEN nearly 30 years since performing arts graduates of Barking College established Studio 3 Arts as a response to what they saw as a lack of cultural opportunities in the borough. Progress has sped up in recent times, with the Broadway Theatre becoming a popular haunt in Barking town centre and a spate of summer festivals attracting large numbers of people during the last two summers (see pages 26 - 30). A seven-year long ambition of Studio 3 Arts was to put on a Shakespeare play was realised in 2016, coinciding with the 400th anniversary of the playwright’s death. The challenges of engaging people with the bard’s plays are a common sticking point for teachers, directors and script adapters. Selecting a play that would appeal to Barking and Dagenham’s diverse demographic, where it is claimed that more than


130 languages are spoken in its schools, required careful planning. The Merchant of Venice was the play chosen. Artistic director Liza Vallance felt that its themes of wealth, inequality, immigration and religious persecution could show the residents of Barking and Dagenham how Shakespeare’s work might relate to their own lives as much as those of people in the 16th century. The first job for writer and script adapter Ashley Joseph, who has worked for Studio 3 Arts for about 10 years, was to significantly cut down the original play in length to make it more digestible. “The language is far removed from today, so the challenges of being both faithful to the original script and making it accessible for people were tricky,” he says. “A lot of people don’t think Shakespeare is important to them, so

Barking and Dagenham is on the brink of becoming a cultural hub. It has changed immensely

BOLD Theatre

ACTing UP Studio 3 Arts’ Ashley Joseph teamed up with comedy partner Tee Jay to offer Barking’s young people the opportunity to try their hand at comedy improvised performance in August 2016. Running for the second year at the Rich Mix cinema in Bethnal Green, London, the project is part of the organisation’s award-winning Big Deal programme. Theatre, dance, music production, film-making and set design are among the activities Studio 3 Arts is encouraging young people to get involved in through the programme.

Pictured: Shakespeare brought to Barking – The Merchant of Venice was performed at various locations.


BOLD Theatre

The fact that critics regarded my work well really means a lot. You feel like your hard work has paid off Little Radio Studio 3 Arts was involved in a project that saw pupils of the Gascoigne Primary School in Barking and residents of the nearby Gascoigne estate take part in a musical performance at the Broadway Theatre in June. The scheme commissioned by the Barbican Centre saw its two resident musicians, saxophonist Iain Bellamy and accordionist Stian Carstensen, join members of the Barking community to perform original songs inspired by their memories of the local area. Around 150 year 5 students took part, performing songs they had written which reflected on their experiences of living in Barking. Bellamy and Carstensen mostly worked in rural areas, but part of the agreement of the project was that they should work in one urban area – Barking. The Little Radio was produced by Sound UK in partnership with Barbican Centre, Guildhall School of Music and Drama and Barking & Dagenham Music Service. It was supported by Arts Council England and PRS for Music Foundation.


Pictured: The Times newspaper gave a four-star review of The Merchant of Venice in July.

putting this play on required a bit of a leap of faith. “Approaching something like adapting Shakespeare was really scary as I had never done it before. I wanted to be faithful to the language in the play, but at the same time, with my passion for rhythm, I had a great time playing with the iambic pentameter that was originally used.”

In what has been dubbed by colleagues at Studio 3 Arts as ‘Ashpean’ language, Joseph’s adapted script made references to modern day living such as social media, selfies and reality TV: “I considered the characters in The Merchant of Venice and how I could relate them to modern day settings and scenarios,” he says.

BOLD Theatre

His work has received widespread praise, including a four-star review in The Times, next to one about a Royal Ballet performance. “That was really overwhelming to see,” says Joseph. “The fact that critics regarded my work well really means a lot. You feel as though all of your hard work has paid off.” But it wasn’t just a welladapted script that led to sold-out performances night after night when the play ran in July. The proposal submitted to local arts engagement group, Creative Barking and Dagenham, which pledged £40,000 towards the project, explained how the play would be a promenade performance moving between different landmarks across Barking town centre, including shops, restaurants, the Broadway Theatre and the council chamber for the final dramatic courtroom scene. Hundreds of local people poured onto the streets of Barking to witness the dramatic spectacle and many were actively involved in the performance themselves. With nine professional actors chosen for the main parts in the play, the rest of the cast and crew were made up of people from surrounding borough locations such as the Gascoigne estate. In persuading people to get involved, Studio 3 Arts spoke not only to organisations normally on its radar, such as local theatre and arts groups and Barking and Dagenham College, but it also went into GP surgeries, cafes, libraries, parent groups, lunch clubs, older people’s social clubs and other community spaces to forge relationships with local people. “People aged between seven and 87 got involved and the reaction was amazing,” says Joseph. “Everyone really did love it. In recruiting, Liza and I spoke to a lot of people who didn’t really know about the opportunities in the area and hopefully this play has helped them feel a bit more proud about where they live.” One local woman used the play

Open Estate The Gascoigne estate has been renamed Weavers Quarter. It is currently subject to a regeneration project that will see 1,575 homes, a community centre and a public square being delivered by East Thames Group and Barking and Dagenham Council. Studio 3 Arts received Heritage Lottery Funding for its Open Estate programme in 2016, which looks back at the estate’s history. The group presented the stories of the people who know the estate best, engaging with local community to surprise those who attended her wedding. Taking 86 guests to the performance right after getting married, friends and family were shocked when the bride turned up in the final scene at the council chamber, playing the duke. It is this community engagement that Joseph believes is helping change the view that Barking and Dagenham is a place where people are not interested in the arts.

groups; people who either live or have lived on the estate. The aim during Open House weekend in September 2016 was to showcase memorable stories at a ‘living museum’, which told former and current residents’ stories, as well as those of people who have worked or socialised there. The project included the creation of residents’ commemorative ceramic pieces, as well as sound installations and an exhibition entitled ‘Understanding the Gascoigne in 50 objects’. “It was definitely worth the challenge,” he says. “I really believe that Barking and Dagenham is on the brink of becoming a cultural hub. It has changed immensely in the years since I’ve been working here and with projects such as The Merchant of Venice, people are becoming more and more interested in the theatre. “Knowing you have created something really amazing for the community is such a great thing.”



Moving east In 2015, BOLD looked at the emerging film industry in Barking and Dagenham. Marco Cillario revisits the borough to find out why directors are continuing to choose this part of east London


Shot in Barking: Millions watched the BBC’s Undercover, starring Sophie Okonedo (above and top right), Dennis Haysbert (above) and Adrian Lester (top right) – and New Blood (opposite) with Mark Strepan (left) and Ben Tavassoli.


IT HAS BEEN four years since Barking and Dagenham Council’s film office was set up, and Lisa Dee, who leads the project, is increasingly busy. “When we launched in 2012, we wanted to encourage the film industry – which was very much west Londonbased at the time – to move east,” she recalls. “In Barking and Dagenham, we have everything from industrial sites to heritage buildings and open green spaces. “We started by doing something which was very innovative: promoting locations which were not councilowned. And that is a really big part of our success.” Barking Riverside, Londoneastuk business park and Barking Magistrates Court are among the places used for increasingly prominent productions. The film office has assisted movie-makers with every part of the process, from sourcing locations to ensuring health and safety measures are in place – as well as providing parking for crews and accommodation for staff. Initially Barking and Dagenham was used for low budget projects, but now its assets are used for the likes of BBC One’s Undercover, which attracted 5.2 million people for the first episode alone when it was aired in spring 2016, and New Blood, broadcast in the summer to an audience of more than four million. Undercover, which tells the story of a British lawyer fighting to prove the innocence of a death row inmate, saw Dagenham Civic Centre transformed into a Louisiana court. New Blood, about two investigators from migrant families, based its production offices at Londoneast-uk in 2015. Dee says: “Producers used to think the area was too far from central London, but once they started coming here, they realised it is only a 25-minute drive and a 15-minute train ride. They all speak to each other, so the word spread quickly. “We have to attend all the shoots and make sure that there are no disruptions for residents. Sometimes

We wanted to encourage the film industry – which was very much west London-based at the time – to move east

we have to cater for more than 200 people on the set during filming.” For this challenging operation, Dee depends on support from other council departments and commitment from the leadership: “The legal department, for example, plays a pivotal role in making the film office work and ensuring contracts are in place,” she says. “And the support we receive from the council’s leader,

Darren Rodwell, and chief executive, Chris Naylor, has been crucial in making the film office what it is now.” But why are film-makers choosing Barking and Dagenham? For Toby Dye, who used the borough to shoot scenes for his most recent work – The Corridor, starring Joanna Lumley and Aidan Gillen – it came down to a very specific requirement. His project was part of Daydreaming



Right: Toby Dye’s Kubrick-inspired short film was shot at the Londoneast-uk business park.



Also shot in the borough: TV SHOWS: Stan Lee’s Lucky Man (Sky One, starring James Nesbitt) Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror (Channel 4, starring Jon Hamm) Top Gear (BBC Two, starring Matt LeBlanc and Chris Evans) Code of a Killer (ITV, starring John Simm) Humans [pictured left] (Channel 4, starring Ruth Bradley) Lawless (Sky One, starring Suranne Jones) with Stanley Kubrick, an exhibition which took place at Somerset House in summer 2016, featuring works that were inspired by the iconic American film director. “We decided to put four cinema screens on four walls in a room at the venue,” explains Dye. “Each screen would show the same corridor shot by a camera moving backwards in a never-ending image; a continuous loop. Each would tell a different story.” The project referenced a frequent theme in Kubrick’s work, as anyone who has watched The Shining will recall. But once the idea was conceived, Dye encountered a problem: “We needed an incredibly long corridor – one which would take at least four minutes to walk down. We went all over the country looking for the right place.” That place turned out to be in Dagenham: “When our research turned up Londoneast-uk business park, we got in touch with Barking and Dagenham Council’s film office and they came along and showed us around. We saw a corridor in a former pharmaceutical facility on the park and realised it was perfect: it was long, cinematic and very bright - it

reminded me of the ending of 2001: A Space Odyssey.” Dye knows the area well: “I am from east London, so I already knew Dagenham. What I particularly like is its industrial landscape: it has something which is very cinematic.” The support the production received from the council’s film office also struck Dye: “It is probably the best film office I have ever worked with. It made the whole process much easier. They were incredibly helpful, professional and enthusiastic.” A wealth of locations, a cinematic landscape and passionate council support: all reasons why Barking and Dagenham stands out. Four years after it was launched, the film office is happily continuing its objective to move the industry east. And Dee believes it is making life better for residents too: “Film production in the area is huge now, and big productions such as New Blood attract people who come to see where it was shot, and use local services, restaurants and cafes.” But there is also a more intangible benefit to the burgeoning presence of production companies. For Dee it is simple: people are becoming increasingly proud of where they live.

Man Down 3 (Channel 4, starring Greg Davies) FILMS: Avengers: Age of Ultron (Marvel, starring Scarlett Johansson and Robert Downey Jr) Doctor Strange (Marvel, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Rachel McAdams) Patient Zero (Sony Pictures, starring Natalie Dormer and Matt Smith) The Riot Club (Universal, starring Max Irons and Natalie Dormer) COMMERCIALS: Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway Heineken Specsavers Nike UK Adidas


BOLD IceHouse Court

Above: Ciara McGarrity benefits from working in spacious and bright surroundings at IceHouse Court.

Bow ties Maria Shahid looks at how the council is working with Bow Arts Trust to create a new destination for the arts in the borough A CREATIVE WORKSPACE is emerging within a stone’s throw of the Ice House Quarter, an artistic hub on the banks of the River Roding. Bow Arts Trust, a registered charity that aims to support community renewal in east London by delivering


arts and creative services, has set up a venture to provide much-needed and affordable artists’ workspace on the ground floor of IceHouse Court, which is supported by the London mayor’s High Street Fund. The scheme was one of the venues

BOLD IceHouse Court

featured on a Barking town centre tour during Open House London in September 2016; an annual weekend when hundreds of spaces in the capital are opened to the public. The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, visited the facility in October and enjoyed a pop-up exhibition displaying the work of the eight artists who have taken space at the facility. Eventually, there is potential for 20 to 25 artists to move into the studio space at IceHouse Court. Michael Cubey, head of creative workspace at Bow Arts, wants to ensure that he finds the right artists – all applicants have to go through a rigorous selection process. “Bow Arts has made a commitment to the borough and we want all our artists to have that same commitment,” he explains. “It is part of our selection criteria to ask each artist to submit an application, together with a business development plan. “We ask them how they would expand into and use the available space. Based on the strength of their application, we then create a shortlist of artists to interview.”

Cubey adds that some artists were sceptical about the location, and part of the conversation the trust had to have with them involved debunking perceptions of the area’s poor connectivity to the rest of the capital.

Being part of a community of creative professionals is refreshing and encouraging

Artists in residence Waffle Design Ciara McGarrity is the designer and owner of Waffle Design, a company which specialises in creating handcrafted soft furnishings such as rugs, cushions and throws, as well as offering a bespoke curtain and blind-making service using premium fabrics. McGarrity was one of the first artists to move into IceHouse Court. She says: “The opportunity to go into a brand new building with an already-existing creative hub was the initial attraction. “Being part of a community of creative industry professionals is refreshing and encouraging. The relationships are so important in the growth of any small business. “Being further east means the rent is great value, and a larger working space is a viable option. “The team at Bow Arts has been really supportive in our transition to IceHouse Court.”


BOLD IceHouse Court

Artists in residence Haidée Drew Designs

Above: Designer Haidée Drew’s studio space acts as a shop front while also giving her the privacy she needs.

“Artists were drawn to the space because of who we are and through our network. Once they were here and saw the architecture of the space, and realised that the journey to Barking is very doable, they could see that this is a good place to be.” Designed by Delvendahl Martin Architects, the 500sq m space on the ground floor of the building features floor to ceiling windows. Cubey explains that working with the “rigid design” of glazing on all sides proved challenging. A system of shelving made of rough timber was created for storing artists’


materials, as well as displaying their work: “It creates a bit more privacy, so our artists don’t feel like they’re in a fish bowl – it works on a lot of levels.” The reaction has been very positive, adds Cubey, with passersby stopping to linger, as well as popping in to take a closer look. Haidée Drew is one of the artists in residence at IceHouse Court and explains what brought her here: “In this hub of buildings you feel like you are in a very creative community. “It really feels like the whole area around the studio is at the beginning of something really exciting.”

Drew is a designer with a background in contemporary craft, who creates objects with a graphic style. Her clients include The Conran Shop, Liberty and Heals. Prior to moving into IceHouse Court, Drew was already familiar with Bow Arts, having used their live/work scheme in various places, including Balfron Tower in Poplar. She says: “After leaving Balfron Tower I looked at a number of other studio providers as well as their prices. It was all very expensive. Bow Arts is still one of the best in terms of organisation and the opportunities they send your way. “When they suggested IceHouse to me, I was initially not sure about it. It seemed too far away. “A big draw was that it’s a bit of a shop front. I had a moment which really made the move worthwhile. I was sitting at my workbench engrossed in something we’re making for Conran, and this little girl started looking in, absorbing everything. She went away and then came back with her identical twin. “It really reminded me of when I was that age, looking into a studio and finding it all really inspiring. “I really love that interaction. You do feel quite private in there because of the design, and yet people can look in.”

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Film focus: directors discover perfect locations Issue 7 Arts and culture Autumn 2016

Thinking theatre: street performers put on a show

BOLD #7  

BOLD magazine is a business and inward investment magazine focusing on Barking and Dagenham. In this issue, we look at how the London Boroug...

BOLD #7  

BOLD magazine is a business and inward investment magazine focusing on Barking and Dagenham. In this issue, we look at how the London Boroug...