We’re celebrating our local area and supporting artists with a season of socially-distanced, COVID-safe events for the Autumn including music, spoken word, theatre, cabaret, online events and family fun.

As we continue our commitment to build a programme in collaboration with the community, one of the first events will be from local musician Charles Hayward. Playing to both a live and online audience, he will present a mix of South East London sounds inspired by punk free jazz and electronica. South London label Imaginary Millions bring an evening of local music talent which will be live streamed; born out of local people’s vote, the floor will also be thrown open so anyone can step up to the stage. Celebrated poet and producer, Yomi Sode will host an evening of spoken word and conversation – In Times of Crisis – and we will be taking theatre and dance to the doorsteps of the Evelyn Estate in Deptford with an adapted version of The Kids Are Alright; presented by Fuel and Encounter as part of our continued borough-wide partnership with Lewisham Homes. The Cocoa Butter Club will also return with a cabaret showcase celebrating performers of colour. Watch this space for an announcement of our upcoming collaboration with Initiative.dkf, who are developing a brand-new outdoor production celebrating joy, love and blackness.

Artist collective Steam Down return, playing to both a live and streamed audience and we continue our partnership with City of London Sinfonia with a family-friendly Comfortable Classical relaxed performance at Canada Water Theatre.

Families can also look forward to Reach for the Stars which will be at the Albany over October half-term; this new show is inspired by the first female African-American astronaut, Mae Jemison, in partnership with Little Angel Theatre and Arts Bridge. We are also putting a call out for Black, female-identifying actors to develop puppetry skills as part of the rehearsal process. Lyngo Theatre will be back with Puss in Boots and MishMash Productions combine music with magical storytelling in Strange Creatures. For Christmas we’ll explore the Antarctic in The Man Who Wanted to be a Penguin from Stuff and Nonsense who will provide festive fun, puppetry and song as part of an original co-commission with ARC Stockton. As well as playing to live audiences of families and schools, the show will also be streamed to schoolchildren who can’t attend in person.

We’ll also be continuing to support artists and creatives as we recruit new Associate Artists for Artists of Change, continue our popular call outs for creative ideas with Pizza and Pitches and support associate company Sounds Like Chaos with a series of new commissions, 2020VISIONS. Behind the scenes we are working with our resident companies and local artists to develop new work and bring new live, digital and hybrid projects to life. The digital theme also continues as we launch a new partnership with the Creative Coding Collective and we’ll of course be continuing to take to the airwaves and supporting older adults with our weekly Meet Me on the Radio show as part of our remote Still Kicking Meet Me programme with Entelechy Arts. Our garden will also be host to Upcycling Workshops from local sewing studio, Make Mee Studio and Come ‘n Grow sessions will run through to the end of October.

With reduced capacities, contactless tickets and a range of comprehensive hygiene measures introduced, we’ve also run limited capacity events before our full reopening which have allowed us to comprehensively plan all of this safely.

‘Unprecedented’, ‘challenging’ and ‘new normal’ are all phrases we’ve heard plenty of over the last few months and we are announcing all this based on current government guidance. With the pandemic still affecting our daily lives, Black Lives Matter protests continuing and many in our community still unable to visit in person, going back to a version of ‘normal’ that recreates what we were doing before is impossible.

So, there won’t be a ‘new normal’ for us. Instead we’re building on what we’ve always done – championing creativity in our community – whilst finding new ways to do this. We’ve already begun of course; over lockdown we’ve launched new remote programmes, developed new ways of working, openly addressed the diversity of our workforce, adapted our building to be COVID-secure and undertaken vital repairs.

As we look to the future, we’re looking forward to continuing to discover, develop and nurture creativity in all its forms, as well as find the best ways to meet the needs of local people. Whatever the next few months hold, we hope you find some way to join us either online or in person soon.