The community gets down at Peckham Festival

Other | Friday 20th July 2018 | Annalisa

Peckham is experiencing a cultural renaissance. It is the most exciting place to be in London right now with a growing community of artists, creatives and community leaders.

Unlike many parts of the capital, Peckham hasn't lost its charm and essence. Its culture is rich and deep and it is one of the most ethnically diverse areas in London. Take a walk down Rye Lane and you will see this reflected from butchers selling a selection of fresh meat to the array of skilled afro –Caribbean hairdressers with skilled hair stylists always on-hand to offer their services up and down the street to the rooftop bars, cafes and restaurants.

Peckham Festival has been a key contributor to the Peckham renaissance. In their own words, they are:

… a hyper-local event with a single aim of celebrating creative and cultural Peckham. We exist to promote artists, makers, creators and community groups, whilst expanding the public’s awareness and access to culture in all its forms: from access to workshops, art, music, written & spoken word, performance, community groups, health and well-being. Created in 2016, and with two successful events delivered, this initiative has already contributed new pathways to community outreach and support; identified and brought cultural connections to underused public and private spaces and forged community connections through the encouragement of local participation alongside the promotion of creative growth and creative enterprise. In 2017 the festival attracted well over 15,000 people to 183 events across 65 venues; involving 28 restaurants or bars, 9 galleries, 171 individual artists, 12 creative businesses across 12 non-profit community groups.


During last year’s festival, local performers took to the stage alongside notable acts such as Kinetika Bloco and Bradley Zero. Established collectives Gal-Dem, BBZ, Born n Bread and NSF CRXSS PLATFXRM took over the Copeland gallery with an itinerary of talks and short films as well as an exhibition. The festival also included the recreated Peckham Carnival, an open-air event which culminated in a parade up Rye Lane and into Copeland Park led by The Movement Factory and carnival MAS band DD Projects. In the meantime, venues such as Theatre Peckham hosted special events such as a three-day circus workshop with the incredible Extraordinary Bodies circus company in collaboration with the students of Highshore School and students of St Thomas the Apostle and took over the Bussey rooftop with drama performances and music.

This year Peckham Festival held their first public meeting of 2018 on the 22nd March at the Tenpoint5ive Gallery. It was open to makers, performers, community groups, volunteers, food traders and musicians who are local to the area – as long as you had a connection to the area you were welcome. The evening included a presentation detailing facts, figures, exciting plans and the history of the festival and its mission to ensure it remains free and that “encourages a greater sense of community, acceptance and integration within the SE15 area.” It afforded attendees the opportunity to network with other creatives and locals in the area and to share with the directors what they felt the festival needs. Feedback from surveys handed out during and after the 2017 festival plus feedback and suggestions made during the public meeting ensures the festival is inclusive of the community and its many voices.

It is through collaborations with long-established groups and passionate local community champions that Peckham Festival is able to spread the word and encourage inclusion. The Festival has asked some of SE15’s cultural icons to join their newly-established festival committee, set up to help shape and plan the future of the festival. These include Nicholas Okwulu of Pempeople; Jason Cameron aka Jay Jay Revlon, 6th generation Peckhamite; artist Katrina Russell-Adams, Founder of the Movement Factory; Leanne Pero, local DJ; and producer Nick Vergara; they will join co-directors Jordana Leighton and Ian Graham.

Peckham Festival is made possible each year with the help of over eighty outstanding volunteers. The volunteers are the glue that keeps the festival together. Volunteer roles cover a number of tasks from artist liaison to photography, PR to stewarding and so much more. We welcome volunteers to come and join the Peckham Festival Team, be part of an amazing event, meet new people, gain new skills – or improve old skills – and just have a great time. Peckham Festival is looking for volunteers from now until the end of the festival!

The festival is about to embark on its third year running. It has taken the bold step to become a Community Interest Company (CIC) and continues to be 100% not-for-profit and free to the public. There is no lack of excitement or anticipation for the festival but the lack of funding from the local authority and the need for private sponsorship from the business community presents a massive barrier to providing the best possible festival.

But Peckham Festival needs your help! Peckham Festival has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds to enable our work to continue. This is part of our ongoing commitment to deliver a free Peckham Festival ensuring it is truly a community event, open to all. There is only a week left to pledge so please help us make Peckham Festival 2018 the best yet! There are a number of amazing Peckham-themed incentives to give you an extra push to donate to this amazing event.

Local stalwarts Copeland Park (home of the Bussey Building), London’s most beloved local cinema Peckhamplex and Peckham Estate agent Gareth James have all pledged support along with Cultureshock Media and the Peckham Peculiar. The Peckham Festival has also been awarded funding from Southwark Council's Central Southwark Festival Fund award

As this Peckham renaissance continues, Peckham Festival will always ensure it is a representation of everything that makes up the glorious area. So come and celebrate Peckham and its multitude of charm and join in the movement that is making it the envy of our borough.

After all, people make Peckham.

The third annual festival will take place between 14-16 September 2018| @peckhamfestival | #peoplemakepeckham


By Rosario Blue