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Southwark Council at our May forum on housing and culture

Above: Canada Water Library and Theatre in Southwark - new leadership to provide artists with skills and work opportunities (picture from AKT II)

Future Cities Forum is delighted that Neil Kirby, Head of Regeneration South, Department of Environment, Neighbourhoods and Growth at the London Borough of Southwark, is joining our Lambeth Palace discussion event.

The event to be held in the Bancroft Room at Lambeth Palace Library looks at the growth of science and cultural districts in London, Battersea Power Station's mixed-use development and evolving innovation hubs in the Capital. There will also be discussion around the proper planning of cultural quarters and attractions as well as joined-up housing and jobs.

Neil joined Southwark Council in 2014 and is responsible for regeneration programmes focused on the Aylesbury Estate in Peckham, as well as Camberwell and Old Kent Road.

Before joining the Council, he was Interim Project Manager for Genesis Housing Group. He worked on the development of a revised development programme and financial model for Grahame Park Estate in Barnet, in order to make the regeneration scheme viable as part of an Estate Regeneration Programme bid for funding.

Neil also worked as Interim Strategic Regeneration Manager for LB Hammersmith and Fulham from 2011, overseeing the negotiation of complex affordable housing provision of over 1,000 homes through Section 106 agreements.

Good practice in establishing new homes in London often requires opportunities for struggling artists to live and work in sustainable creative districts.

A new artists' development hub has been announced as Theatre Peckham takes over as the new operator of the Canada Water Theatre from 1st April 2023.

Following a competitive process, Southwark Council has appointed Theatre Peckham to transform the way the performance space is used during 2023-24, refreshing its purpose as a designated platform for emerging artists to develop their creative ideas, practice and strengthen community connections.

Southwark-based Theatre Peckham follows in the footsteps of The Albany who successfully managed and programmed the theatre space for 11 years, delivering a broad range of plays, music gigs, poetry nights, and family-friendly events.

Theatre Peckham’s new outpost provides the opportunity for creatives of all kinds to upskill themselves and attract paid opportunities – a key tenet for a thriving cultural sector. Independent creatives will benefit from artist mentorship programmes, support with funding applications, production and marketing.

Over the next year, Theatre Peckham will bring forward a creative vision that comprises:

  • Incubate – free research and development opportunities for Southwark-based creatives

  • Gifted Weeks – free rehearsal space for artists performing in Peckham Fringe and Young, Gifted & Black

  • London Calling – affordable rehearsal space hire for non-Southwark based companies

  • Community Hub – local community group hires.

Theatre Peckham is an active member of the Southwark Stands Together pledge, a borough wide commitment to tackling racial inequality. The theatre champions the voices of those from ethnically diverse backgrounds as creatives and audience members and recognises the critical role that creativity and culture have in shaping society and building stronger, fairer, richer communities and places.

Alongside its dedicated support for creatives, the theatre will also host community events, with the programme to be announced in the coming months.

Artistic Director and CEO of Theatre Peckham Suzann McLean, said:

"This is an incredible opportunity for Theatre Peckham to continue its mission of building an equitable sector by providing a platform for diverse talent in the arts. The venue will provide a much-needed space for Southwark artists to come together and collaborate on projects, be a resource for sector wide theatre companies seeking a performance space and continue as a community hub for local groups. This opportunity will allow us to further our commitment to artistic excellence, social change, and community connections."


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