Regarding theatre and austerity
Qultura Fringe has reformed and work has started on restoring the Fringe in Battersea with a new proposal for theatre, film making and drama workshops in the local Nine Elms community. Our proposal takes in Circle Village West and the ROSE Community Centre as well as, if they confirm they want to get involved, the Duchess Belle pub. What we're proposing is a new centre for Fringe theatre at Circle Village West working with professional actors with an emphasis on new directors, and also a new 'walk in off the streets' system of drama workshops, free of charge, for those interested in the performing arts from the local community.
This is a major part of the developing Qultura Core project which we hope will lead to a spin off into other creative areas such as music, art and photography. We're also hoping that this will remove many of the barriers and obstacles placed before people when it comes to the performing arts and getting involved in theatre and film making. No longer will you need to have money or the right background to get into acting, as all you will need is the desire to give it a go and the discipline to learn about acting, theatre and drama. Through this we're hoping to create something for anyone and everyone to get involved in, from children up to the elderly.
Only the authorities might have other ideas
However we'd like to draw your attention to this recent article in The Guardian regarding the possible closure of many theatres who will not survive lockdown. The problem here is that many theatres and also music venues are property and space, both of which are attractive to property speculators and developers. We also have a Government and a local council who are both interested in short term financial gain, even if it hurts the local community.
Currently all the opportunities in acting have all but dried up. This has left many actors without any income or work and due to the conditions of the COVID-19 lockdown such as social distancing they also have little or no opportunity to find alternative work. Furthermore theatre is something which is going to emerge or recover much later from lockdown than most other things. Currently I'm working with actors to record Qultura Fringe's new repertoire on audio through Zoom, and am refusing to get involved in any 'in person' workshops until next year 2021 at least. As much as I'm keen to be working with people in theatre and helping to put together drama workshops, I'm just not prepared to put the health or lives of anyone at risk.
Holding the politicians to account
This comes down to values. Qultura Fringe is in development and its going to come with a hard edge. So much of people's lives is made political right now by the politicians themselves, the media and also through the internet and social media and through all these things we are becoming enslaved by ideology. But life is neither political nor ideological, life is about much bigger issues than both politics and ideology and I have made it clear to my actors that part of the role of Qultura Fringe, the theatre and acting is to remind people of the fact that life is not political but is much bigger than politics.
Theatre is the one place in the community which is free from politics and ideology, the one place where genuine freedom and freedom of personal self-expression exists. This is because theatre is all about the narrative, it is about truth, it is about reality, and for this reason it is down to the actor to hold the politician to account. I make no secret of this fact because Qultura Fringe is about new theatre, new acting, about comedy and drama, and about expressing that what needs to be expressed. The closure of theatres, if it does happen, is going to have a profound and devastating effect on communities and society as a whole.
Solidarity with the poor, the marginalized, the disaffected
Another core value of Qultura Fringe is solidarity with the poor, the marginalized, the disaffected, the excluded, and the stigmatized. While we may be diverse and have that solidarity in our local community, there is not much solidarity or diversity in the performing arts particularly where money is involved. Much of commercial theatre is like television and the film industry, it is dominated by white middle class monoculture and this is a barrier which has existed all along the South Bank. Qultura Fringe intends to remove that barrier and is happy to platform productions developed from out of the black community and also develop Islamic theatre - something which exists in the Middle East but not in this country. However this is not going to be at the expense of anyone else in the community and if you are white and poor you also have a shot at becoming a professional actor. The only criteria here is good quality theatre and developing ideas and productions which is going to get bums on seats. Through the ROSE and Circle Village West the South Bank will be open to everyone.
There is also a petition on Change.org
I have also created a petition on Change.org calling for a greater investment in culture and an end to austerity which is addressed to Boris Johnson, Sadiq Khan but which is also addressed to the respective leaders of Wandsworth Council. It cannot be all about take, take, take, and there are people out there, not just in our community but also up and down the country, who simply don't have enough to live on, who don't have access to opportunities, and who are either stuck in their life or at very serious risk of losing their homes, their future, or their lives. Please seriously consider clicking on the links to the petition and signing it and sharing it on your social media and among people.
As always if you want to get involved you can sign up to our community, register on our Community Message Boards or even message us. Now is the time when we need to come together, be connected, stay connected, and we are always interested in people interested in volunteering and activism.