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Sydenham Arts Festival T

he Sydenham Arts Summer Festival takes place 1-10 July. Hot on the lauded heels of the Spring Festival of Music in April (launched for the first time this year by Sydenham Arts and highlighted in the national press) this 10-day event aims ‘to advance the arts for the benefit of all’ and will embrace multi-disciplines. Read on, the lineup is tempting. For a start, any budding Keats, Plaths or Rosens, hear this: poetry will lie at the heart of the festival, with an energetic campaign to make Sydenham known as the UK’s first Poetry Town. Poetry Town began last year with a simple weekly poem offered by the Kirkdale Bookshop. Hugely popular with residents and visitors, it has now grown into a partnership with Sydenham Arts. Weekly poems will be displayed – in doctors’ surgeries, cafés, banks, at the bus stop, at the station – filling SE26 with verses by famous poets and locals of all ages. ‘Poetry has the power to reach people at a profound level and articulate experiences in ways that everyday speech and prose cannot,’ says Helen Goward, festival director. The SE26 festivals have a successful track record of presenting poetry and the children’s Poetry Treasure Hunt will ensure all ages can participate. No stranger to the beauty and power of words, songwriter Michele Stodart (pictured above) will be performing alongside her brother Romeo (yes, they of The Magic Numbers) and Ren Harvieu at St Bartholomew’s Church on the evening of 9 July. Michele’s second solo album, Pieces, is due for release the previous day. An imaginative contribution to the nationwide WW1 centenary commemorations will take the form of 20

a Great War Classroom. The recreation, suitable for young and old, will offer visitors an immersive experience of the effect of the conflict on classrooms in this part of London. Other highlights include a Comedy Festival and the 7th visit to the Sydenham Arts Festival by 5-piece band Balalaika, Russian and Jewish music specialists, described by one local as offering ‘dangerously high levels of enjoyment.’ Look out too for more fantastic live music at the Devonshire Road Folk Festival. SE26 is bristling with visual artists, and this summer the Sydenham Artists’ Trail will take place on the weekends of 2/3 and 9/10 July as part of the festivities. Participating artists include Anna Lovely, who trained at Camberwell College of Art and the Royal College of Art, and opened a local gallery in 2014; glass artist Pippa Stacey who trained at Central St Martins and artist Jacqueline Pennell who will present site-specific works at Dacres Wood Nature Reserve. An army of enthusiastic volunteers is what makes any community festival really work, but Sydenham Arts are lucky to also have the generous support of Arts Council England, the Big Lottery Fund, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Lewisham Council, Property World and many private sponsors. All the usual social media places will have the latest updates and you’ll find brochures in Sydenham stores and eateries which list all the festival’s performing and visual arts. @sydartsfest @SydenhamArts

The Transmitter Issue 40  

A South London Magazine

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