Page 1

HOW DO ARTS ORGANISATIONS THINK ABOUT CULTURE AND DIVERSITY? The culture and politics of Brixton.


Electric Avenue Eddy Grant, 1982 Down in the street there is violence And a lots of work to be done No place to hang out our washing And I can't blame all on the sun, oh no We gonna rock down to Electric Avenue And then we'll take it higher Oh we gonna rock down to Electric Avenue And then we'll take it higher Workin' so hard like a soldier Can't afford a thing on TV Deep in my heart I'm a warrior Can't get food for them kid, good God We gonna rock down to Electric Avenue And then we'll take it higher Oh we gonna rock down to Electric Avenue And then we'll take it higher


The Guns of Brixton The Clash, 1979 When they kick at your front door How you gonna come? With your hands on your head Or on the trigger of your gun When the law break in How you gonna go? Shot down on the pavement Or waiting on death row You can crush us You can bruise us But you'll have to answer to Oh, the guns of Brixton You see, he feels like Ivan Born under the Brixton sun His game is called survivin' At the end of the harder they come


1981 Brixton riot

Operation Swamp 81 – 943 stopped and searched, 82 arrested through sus law. Locals reported police openly wearing badges supporting the National Front. 10 April, Michael Bailey, a young black man, was stopped for acting suspiciously. He had been stabbed, and police put him in a car to get medical help. Community distrust of police was such that local young people pulled him out of police car to take him to hospital themselves, saying "Let us look after our own." Rumours spread that a youth had been left to die by the police. 11–12 April, tensions erupted. Shops were looted, bricks and bottles thrown at fire brigade and police. Two pubs, 26 businesses, schools and other structures were set alight. 299 police were injured, along with at least 65 members of the public.


13 April, Margaret Thatcher said "Nothing, but nothing, justifies what happened", dismissing that unemployment and racism lay beneath the Brixton Uprising. Lambeth Council leader (Labour), Ted ‘Red Ted’ Knight, said police presence "amounted to an army of occupation", provoking the riots. 25 November, the Scarman Report found evidence of the disproportionate and indiscriminate use of 'stop and search' powers by the police against black people.


1985 Brixton riot 28 September, Michael Groce, a 21 year old boy brought up in poverty between care homes and rough housing estates, was found by police at his mothers house with a gun. Michael had 50 convictions and 15 different spells in prison. Police returned with back up to arrest him, and during the arrest, shot his mother Cherry Groce. The community gathered around the house, then moved to outside the police station demanding disciplinary action against the officers involved. A riot kicked off. Police in riot gear arrived drumming batons on riot shields. Local young people threw bricks and bottles. Over the next two days, 50 people were injured, 200 arrests were made, one building and dozens of cars were destroyed, and several shops had been looted.


30 September, riots spread in Peckham, Toxteth and Tottenham. Cherry Groce survived the shooting, but was left paralysed with a punctured lung and spinal injury. The police officer who shot Mrs Groce was prosecuted but eventually acquitted. Mrs Groce later received over £500,000 in compensation, but with no admission of liability When he heard about his mother’s shooting, Michael Groce turned himself in to the police. He wrote his mother an apology in the form of a poem, subsequently published. Since his release, Michael has attempted to help the community recover; he ran a youth football team, trying to provide a fun alternative to crime. In March 2014, almost 29 years after the events and almost three years after her death, the Metropolitan Police publicly apologised to Cherry Groce's family for her wrongful shooting.


Brixton Art Gallery Brixton Art Gallery was founded as an artists collective in June 1983 by a group of local artists, poets and the Jamaican-British dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson.

Five Nights of Bleeding Linton Kwesi Johnson, 1978 Night number one was in Brixton Sofrano B sound system I'm was a-beatin' up the riddim with a fire I'm comin' down his reggae reggae wire It was a sound checkin' down your spinal column A bad music tearin' up your flesh And the rebels dem start a fighting De youth dem just tun wild, it's War amongs' the rebels Madness, madness, war


POP Brixton Lambeth Council launched a bidding process for initiatives to temporarily redevelop a car park in Brixton into a community space, open till 2020. The result was POP Brixton, which there are mixed feelings about amongst local residents – is it a community space or a hipster hangout?


POP Brixton is a community initiative that has transformed a disused plot of land into a

pioneering space that showcases the most

exciting independent businesses from Brixton and Lambeth, providing a new destination that

supports them to set up shop and share space, skills and ideas.

At the heart of our project is a focus on

supporting and engaging our community. So as well as providing space for local businesses, we work hard to get involved in positive projects in the area.

We offer discounted rents to social enterprises and total start-ups who need space to get their

business off the ground. Members are asked to their time and skills to support local causes, investing at least 1 hour each week into a

Community Investment Scheme managed by

The Brixton Pound, working with local schools, charities and community organisations.


Three markets English Heritage ‘At Risk’ list Reliance Arcade, 1923-5 A straight, narrow arcade running east-west from Electric Lane to Brixton Road. The choice of an Egyptian frontage was an early one in the fashion for this style that emerged following the discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb in 1922. Market Row, 1928 An infill site between the buildings on Electric Avenue to the north, Atlantic Road to the east, Coldharbour Lane to the south and Electric Lane to the west. There are three entrances and the arcades form a broad T-plan. Brixton Village, 1935-8 Occupies a trapezoidal plot between Coldharbour Lane to the south, the railway viaducts to the north and west, and the 1904 steam laundry to the east. The twin main entrances to the south form an integral part of a four-story block of flats with ground-floor shops, known as Granville House.


Brixton Market, with its jumble of stalls selling plantains, Jamaican patties, yams, green

bananas, and an array of Caribbean foodstuffs,

rapidly became an important focal point for the new arrivals, many of whom made their homes in the adjacent environs of Atlantic Road,

Electric Avenue, Coldharbour Lane, and Railton Road. By the late 1960s much of this area had

become one of the largest and most important sites of Caribbean settlement in the United

Kingdom, and word of Brixton's reputation as 'the spiritual home of Caribbeans in Britain' spread 'back home', encouraging new generations of Caribbean settlers. –The Oxford Companion to Black British History


Studio 73 Opened in 2010, showing new artworks by London based artists in regular exhibitions, and selling original prints.


Brixton Arches Last year, market traders were evicted amongst widespread protest from the railway arches – which had been full of shops selling household goods, groceries and increasingly, cheap tech. Network Rail will reopen the arches to businesses in 2021, though prices for the space will have risen 300% and this is seen by many as an effort at gentrification, supported by Lambeth Council. Local artists have painted messages of protest on each arch.


198 Contemporary Arts and Learning Starting out as Roots Community in 1988, this organisation had a dual purpose – a Caribbean social club and a space for Black artists to exhibit their work. Morphing into 198 Gallery, faith in the community remained central to the ethos, taking its projects from the ‘Front-line’ of Railton Road into the international visual arts arena. 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning has helped to nurture the careers of emerging artists, particularly those from culturally diverse backgrounds. They advocate for diversity within the visual arts and provide opportunities for those wishing to develop careers in the creative and cultural industries. This had been the motivation for founding 198 in 1988, by initially focusing on the need to provide a platform for Afro-Caribbean artists as part of the Black Arts Movement and, more recently, on projects by artists whose work investigates emerging cultural identities.


Photofusion Originally founded as the Photo Co-op in 1979 in Wandsworth, South London, Photofusion has metamorphosed from a small collective of documentary photographers to becoming London’s largest independent photography resource centre, moving to new premises in the vibrant heart of Brixton in 1991. Alongside its professional development and training programmes, Photofusion delivers a range of crucial outreach engagement projects, working with socially and culturally marginalised young people, offering photographer-led creative programmes, skills-based accredited courses, bursaries and internships in collaboration with local organisations and a range of funding partners.


Windrush Square The arrival of the SS Empire Windrush in June 1948 at Tilbury Dock marked the beginning of post-war mass migration. The ship made an 8,000 mile journey from the Caribbean to London with 492 passengers on board from Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and other islands.


To Travel This Ship James Berry, 2007 To Travel this Ship To travel this ship, man I gladly strip mi name of a one-cow, two-goat an a boar pig an sell the land piece mi father lef to be on this ship and to be a debtor. Man, jus fa diffrun days I woulda sell, borrow or thief jus fa diffrun sunrise an sundown in annodda place wid odda ways. To travel this ship, man I woulda hurt, I woulda cheat or lie, I strip mi yard, mi friend and cousin-them To get this yah ship ride.


Black Cultural Archives Established in 1981 and situated in its iconic building in Brixton’s Windrush Square since 2014, Black Cultural Archives (BCA) is the only national repository of Black history and culture in the UK.

Using our unique collection, we promote the

teaching, learning and understanding of the

African people’s contribution, which enables the public to learn and connect with hidden

histories, creating an experience to uplift and

inspire. This is achieved through our exhibitions, public programmes and events. Our growing

collection of original archives constitute a

permanent record of the richness of the Black

experience in Britain and is accessible to all.


Len Garrison Educationalist and historian whose life's work was to catalogue the development of the black British identity and its history. To this end, he set up ACER (Afro-Caribbean Education Resource) and co-founded the Black Cultural Archives. In his work on Rastafari and identity Garrison drew the conclusion that the British education system was failing black children as it denied the reality or existence of black history or culture. He believed that "Given the right opportunity [Black children] can become an asset to [British] society." He argued that what was required was an educational resource that was multi-cultural, recognising and acknowledging black history. In order to do this ACER was set up. Its aim was to give black children a sense of identity and belonging to be proud of, and one that could be traced back to their African roots. It would make them black British citizens, with a part to play in multicultural Britain.


Babylon Cult film made in 1980, shot on the streets of Deptford and Brixton. The story centres on sound system culture and themes of racism, poverty and lack of opportunities.


Ritzy Opening in March 1911 as the “Electric Pavilion,” the cinema now known as the Ritzy was one of England’s earliest purpose-built cinemas. Picturehouse, owned by Cineworld, made a profit of more than £80m last year, yet Ritzy workers have been in dispute with their employer for 2 years – demanding London Living wage and the reinstatement of their three union reps who were sacked last year following industrial action.


Lambeth Town Hall Lambeth Council is currently held by Labour, but have a tense relationship with many local residents. Lambeth is the home of ‘nu-Labour’, with prominent local councillors key members of the Labour ‘centrist’ group Progress. Protests against the council are regular and highly visible. ‘Stand up to Lambeth’ state:

In recent years, the problems facing Lambeth residents have increased exponentially, as a direct result of Lambeth Council decisions. Those notorious decisions include but are not

limited to council estate regeneration schemes, planned library closures, eviction of traders in the Brixton Arches, closure of children’s

services such as 1 o’clock clubs and after school clubs, the failure to properly investigate

Lambeth’s role in the historical child sex abuse scandal as well as provide proper ongoing

protection of our most vulnerable citizens, threatened closure of sheltered housing, cuts in


our social services including mental health – all the while engaging fully with big business and developers with a view to privatising housing and services.

Lambeth Council, and most notably, the leader of council, Councillor Lib Peck, blames these

cuts, closures, evictions and job losses on cuts

in funding from Central Government, yet we see them continue to promote and finance vanity

projects. We see a scandalous waste of money on “consultants” and “advisors”, private

companies, such as Savill’s, whose services are engaged to assist the council in pushing through their dubious schemes.


London Borough of Culture Lambeth Council have recently received a ÂŁ200,000 runner-up prize to fund an initiative named Next Generation.

Lambeth will work with young BAME Londoners to help them develop careers in the arts –

inspiring the next generation of artists and

cultural leaders. It will be supported by major cultural institutions across the borough

including the South Bank Centre, Old Vic, BFI and the National Theatre.


Runnymede report In 2011 Lambeth had the highest overall inequality in London. The Black African, Bangladeshi and Mixed groups experience the largest overall inequality. Lambeth is one of the few boroughs in which minorities experience inequality in all four of the indicators.


SOUND-ART-HANNAH

Profile for SoundArtHannah

How do arts organisations think about culture and diversity?  

Brixton politics and culture.

How do arts organisations think about culture and diversity?  

Brixton politics and culture.

Advertisement