Debut event celebrates all things creative in Elephant & Castle
A map of creativity has led locals and visitors to explore Elephant & Castle this summer, as the inaugural Creative Elephant took place. It’s a collaboration between London College of Communication (LCC) and local creative organisations, and we spoke to Gill Henderson – cultural and communities partnership manager at the college and one of the key organisers – about the hidden creative gems that the event uncovered.
What is Creative Elephant?
It’s a celebration of the galleries, dance studios, theatres, creative education institutions, clubs and so on, based in and around Elephant & Castle. It was held over five days between 19 and 23 June, when 20 events took place across 13 venues.
What is the reason behind it?
The aim of Creative Elephant is to showcase the range of creativity there is in Elephant & Castle. It took place during one of the LCC’s degree shows, which attract up to 4,000 people, including family and friends of the students, plus those from the creative industries who come to spot talent. We knew there was going to be an upsurge in visitors, so we wanted to use that opportunity to showcase the creative nature of Elephant & Castle.
Who took part?
It was a real mix of art forms, from established venues such as Siobhan Davies Dance, Southwark Playhouse and the institution that is Corsica Studios, to rising talent from among the Screen and Design students at LCC and performances from Superarts Academy’s stars of tomorrow.
Where did the idea for the event come from?
Like many of the best ideas, this one was stolen from existing events, the first being First Thursdays. This is an art event in London where many galleries stay open late on the first Thursday of each month, and visitors use a map to go from one gallery to the next. The second source of inspiration was the Camberwell Arts Festival. Camberwell College of Arts is LCC’s sister college and – exactly as we are doing with Creative Elephant – it invites local organisations and individuals to showcase their work at the same time as the college’s degree show. The festival has grown hugely since its inception and, this year, is celebrating its 25th anniversary. It got us thinking about developing an event that is specific to the Elephant and the potential of what we could achieve if we all worked together.
How did Creative Elephant work?
Some events were planned especially for it, but most were going on anyway. We spoke to the local creative and cultural institutions in the area and everyone said ‘yes’. We plotted all of the events on a map so that people could see where all of this great stuff was happening, and had a visual reminder of places and people for the future.
Why is Elephant & Castle so good for creativity?
There is so much creative stuff happening in the Elephant all the time, but you wouldn’t necessarily spot it unless you know where to look. You don’t step out of the tube station and see it – it’s happening, but it’s not obvious. There are some amazing venues here and the regeneration is bringing new audiences to the area.
What is the hope for Creative Elephant in the future?
We would like it to become an annual event and are already talking about doing something for next year. This year’s event was an awareness-raising exercise, to shine a spotlight on Elephant & Castle and show off all the creative talent and venues in the area. Arts and cultural events can bring communities together like no other. We hope we can continue to celebrate the creativity in Elephant & Castle, while making events accessible in terms of cost and being able to find out easily what’s going on – because there is so much to enjoy in the Elephant.
For more information about Creative Elephant and to see the map of venues involved, visit www.creativeelephant.uk