The Crouch End Festival looks like it’s shaping up to be a great event. Last week I met with James Bridgman, one of the festival organisers, to find out more.
London localism seems to be finding an expression in festival form of late. Harringay has had two Food Festivals and last year the Caledonian Road followed suit and ran their first festival. Now this year N21 are shaping up to host their version and the Crouch End Festival will be running from May 4th to 13th.
Whilst community is a common thread, inevitably each festival says something about the area hosting it, more likely by design than by accident. The Harringay bash is all about ‘entertainment’ with food and music as core themes. It's been organised with huge amounts of selfless input mainly by people drawn formally constituted groups and orchestrated by a council run group. (A hat tip here to Rob Chau of the Harringay Traders’ Association and Andy Newman of the Gardens Residents Association).
The Crouch End Festival has a very different vibe. Scheduled to dovetail with Crouch End Open Studios the following weekend, it’s been designed as part a two week celebration of local talent and is being organised by a network of locals. The group networked themselves together on Facebook last year and are using networked self-organisation to make things happen. Although nothing’s done without a certain amount of hard graft, the Crouch End group appear to be lightening their load very successfully by organising it along something rather akin to world café principles. Crouch End hosted one of the world’s first unlibraries; dare I venture to call this an unfestival?
It all started back in October 2008 when Crouch End local Chris Arnold set up the Crouch End Creatives Facebook group. Although the group saw little activity to begin with, in April last year the group sprang to life:
Chris J Arnold We have an ambitious plan. To reposition (brand) Crouch End as 'LONDON'S CREATIVE VILLAGE". What do people think?
A month later, James Bridgman replied:
James Bridgman could be a great idea - but we need a vehicle (event/hub etc) to focus on... can a few of us meet up and thrash this out face to face...?
And by the end of the day, the meeting was organised that would give birth to the festival.
Chris J Arnold I suggest 7pm at Coffee Circus on Friday 3rd. If too many turn up we can relocate to a pub (one next to Evans cycle shop is empty most night). Ya or Na?
Here’s how Chris reported back on the meeting via Facebook on June 4th:
Chris J Arnold Good meet up tonight. Lots of people from different arts backgrounds 0 music, writing, art, photography, cartooning, advertising... and more.
Plan is for another meet up end of June, probably in the Maynard this time - Fri 24th June.
We need to have hub. For social its this Facebook group, but we discussed asking an existing Crouch End website to act as one too.
We all agreed that we should aim to have a Crouch End Arts Festival next year. This gives us a purpose.
We need to sign up as many members of creative groups as possible, as well as identifying these groups. So ask your creative friends.
With some of the heavy lifting being done through established local networks and social media platforms, an organising group has been hard at work organiseing since that initial meeting.
Now that sponsorship is in place from Budgens, Martyn Gerard, the festival has the green light. Driven by Chris Arnold’s vision of Crouch End as London’s Creative Capital, the aim is for the Festival to be a very local celebration of local creative talent. This means that the local celebrities of which Crouch End is not short, have by and large been spurned in favour of a more home grown feel.
So far there are 20 venues signed up to host exhibitions, shows and performances and James told me he expects more to come forward. Those included so far are in the main pubs, cafes and bars, but with some community venues joining in too.
The aspiration is to attract around 100 artists including craft artists, painters, photographers and filmmakers, musicians, performance artists etc. The list of those already signed up is growing steadily but if you’d like to take part there’s still room to accommodate more. To take part you need to be local. That means N8 and immediately surrounding areas.
James explained how the self-organising style of the festival is being extended to include planning which acts use which venues. “We’re running it almost as if we were hosting a speed-dating event. We’ll broker introductions between creatives and venue owners, then leave them to work out whether or not they want to date!”
Here are some of the events already in the pipeline:
Current thinking is that all the venues will be within the triangle formed roughly by the Great Northern Tavern, Victoria Stakes and the King’s Head (apologies for the pubcenricity - my fault, not James’s). But as James has explained this year is something of a try-out. Future years will no doubt see some reshaping and that may include flexing the current geographical boundaries.
By the way, I arranged to meet James at Café Moka and introduced him to owner Kevin Vanthem. Kevin is soon to start hosting an artists networking event on Wednesday evenings a the café. If that group were to want to go for a CEF Fringe event, why not!
Either way, the festival looks like another great local event. So thanks to the organisers. I’m looking forward to it.
Chris Arnold runs Ad agency Creative Orchestra
James Bridgman runs branding & design agency Silverleaf
The Crouch End Festival site is at crouchendfestival.org.
The Crouch End Creatives Facebook group is at facebook.com/groups/crouchendcratives
Crouch End Open Studios are at crouchendopenstudios.co.uk
Latest list of venues released yesterday:
The organisers say: "Please liaise with the venue and then inform us once everything is secured (date, time, location). This is important for those who have already submitted information to the site - as we need to update everything, and for those who haven't - plse find attached a participation form to be completed and returned".
Possible venues include:
Nest, Weston Park
Hornsey Vale CC
Harringay Arms/ Rambling Rose
Great North Railway Tavern
Meadow Orchard Project
Kiss the Sky
Hornsey Library Outside
Rileys Ice Cream Parlour
Hot Pepper Jelly Cafe
Holy Innocents Church
Hornsey Vale Community Centre
great work chris, heres a link to a film starring local actor David Powell would be great to have it shown
it has been shown before by Andy at Moors bar.
also heres a link for my 8yr old sons track on itunes written and performed by him hes doing promo over easter
could add a bit of young fun
Hi Al - great stuff! I guess Andy @ Moors Bar is the person to contact about that really nice film. Loved the single too!
As part of the "self-organising" contribution Transition Crouch End (TCE) is making to the festival, I've been attending all the meetings and am delighted to be considered as one of the organisers.
It's very nice to work in an atmosphere were there are no 'executive decisions' - nobody is 'the boss' - we all do what we can autonomously, knowing that whatever anyone else is doing is bound to be positive and useful. It was decided early on (not by me!) to publicise and promote the many creative people who live here and not to put on any events, but to encourage everyone to find a venue and pay for it if needed (many are free to perform in). Creatives are being asked to do something (e.g. a workshop) for local young people.
In TCE I've done an event plan for a stage to be put on the Town Hall Square (subject to a licence application). I have some experience putting on events and it's hard, unpaid work, with lots still to do so please, lend a hand if you can.
TCE is busy contacting many of the residents, local groups and organisations TCE have built relationships with over the last four years of helping and in some cases initiating projects here.
I'm processing the application forms and putting pages for participants on the website and working with the volunteers who have so far stepped forward. Others in our small team have been working equally hard but are too modest for me to mention their names!
As it says on our website:
"The Crouch End Festival belongs to everyone in Crouch End, whether an individual, creative business, school, community group, library or local cafe etc. It is ours and everyone who wants to can showcase their creative work in Crouch End and be part of the festival."
It is a revival and re-definition of the annual Crouch End Festivals, organised in the past, as this one is, by many hard working local people, many of whom are waiting in the wings, ready to play a more active part as the time approaches. This one has more of an 'arts' feel than some of the previous ones, and paves the way for one of the jewels of our cultural scene - the Crouch End Open Studios.
I'd be grateful if everyone who wants to volunteer would fill in the Open Office version of the Volunteer form you'll find here (or contact me for a Word Version). We need you! You're welcome to contact me but please email the forms to the Festival email address below.
If you are a creative person and want to make a creative contribution, please fill in the form here.
Here's what's in the Volunteer form:
Website (if you have one):
Connection With Crouch End (Please tick or put 'Y')
I am a resident in area I work in the area
I run a business, if so what type? other (please state)
I am in school/college (please specify)
Volunteering offered (Please tick or put 'Y')
Can help with festival preparations
Am a parent at a local school, so can let other parents and school groups and friends of school know
I am trained in First Aid and can help on the day
Steward on the day
I am part of a community group and can get them involved
Hand out leaflets in run up to festival
Put leaflets in shops in local area
other (please state)
Please describe what you do
Please complete it, and as it says on the webpage, send the form to:
Any questions or queries, please contact us or post them here and one of the organisers will surely respond.
Chris Setz, on behalf of Transition Crouch End - email comms@TransitionCrouchEnd.org.uk