It’s almost a year since I started my Arts Crusade, my mission to give myself and the kids I love a #KickUpTheArts.
Spurred on by the revelation that 41% of Hackney kids live in poverty (yes, really), and Arts Council England’s research showing a persistent disconnect between those who get to benefit from arts participation and those who don’t, I wanted to act, to get up off my ar(t)se, to make sure my kids got exposure to the arts in a way that I didn’t. To paraphrase Ghandi, “change starts with yourself”. So that’s where I started.
It’s been quite a year.
I’ve come across so many inspiring, passionate people who are working hard to bridge the gap in opportunity that’s caused by economic insecurity, a depressing lack of arts education in our schools and other stuff I’m not eloquent enough to voice here.
From Dalston to Stratford, Hackney Wick to Hoxton I’ve met teachers going out of their way to spark creativity in their students, space explorers and streetartists brightening up blank spaces.
I’ve visited venues across the city welcoming all comers to free arts events, some with funding, others battling to make ends meet. I’ve made Facebook friends with organisations matching young people from deprived backgrounds to creative mentors, started Instagram love affairs with creative entrepreneurs, engaged in tweetchats with artists and campaigners doing their best to make their communities better places. I’ve even discovered landlords keeping rents low to keep artists afloat (yes, they do exist!)…
I call these people #Artskickers. YOU know who I’m talking about.
These people are the unsung heroes of this culturally resplendent community of ours. It’s high time someone thanked them for their efforts, got them some publicity and gave them a good night out, so… I’m teaming up with Julie from Love East magazine and a load of absolutely brilliant sponsors to do just that.
The #Artskickers Awards will recognise and reward individuals and organisations whose hard work, dedication, passion, slog and effort inspires communities to engage in and with the arts in East London.
The #Artskickers couldn’t be easier to enter, just go to the website (launches Feb 1 but it’ll be at www.artskickersawards.com), tell us who you love and why they’re so artskicking. You can even nominate yourself!
Entries will be judged by an experienced panel of East London based artskickers including…
Olivier Award winning actresses Denise Gough (my brilliexcellent sister ❤️) and Sharon D. Clarke MBE, poet Lemn Sissay MBE, artists Deborah Curtis and Gavin Turk, streetartist Zabou, multitalented musician Rennell Shaw and John Mulholland, editor of The Observer.
And if getting in front of this glittering gang wasn’t enough, shortlisted nominees will join them at a very special ceremony in Hackney on March 29.
Oh! Did I mention the prizes? As well as featuring nominees in Love East Magazine and on social media, we’ve got some amazing treats in store for the winners. Prizes are being donated by local businesses and artists who love East London and want to do their bit to thank some local heroes. Trust me, these are prizes you’ll actually WANT to win…
Come on so, what are you waiting for? We all know an #Artskicker, do tell us yours!
Website opens for entries from February 4
Deadline for entries: 9.30am, March 6
P.S. If you’d like to join our growing list of sponsors, to donate a prize, to do an interview, to feature the awards in your blog / mag / paper, please don’t be shy, email me and join in the joy! ❤️
Download the press release here.