Getting down with the trumpets at Blue Elephant
2018 COMMUNITY FUND WINNER PROFILE – Blue Elephant Theatre
Recently, foodies’ favourite Mercato Metropolitano and the Elephant and Castle shopping centre became the surprise hosts of pop-up theatre events, funded by a special community grant.
For the past 20 years, Blue Elephant Theatre has been offering creative opportunities to those who may not otherwise be able to access them, and trumpeted its 2018 grant success with a special live performance project in public spaces around the area.
The theatre, whose patrons include acting legend Joanna Lumley, is a small fringe theatre in Southwark working with about 1,600 community members each year, largely young people and their families. This includes early interventions’ programmes run in local primary schools targeting those at risk of underachieving or who have poor wellbeing and focused creative work tackling mental health in schools and in the wider community.
With its grant, it expanded its existing touring storytelling and performance project ‘Trumpety Tales’. So far, the group has created two stories, both of which have an underlying social development theme, enabling children to engage with these ideas.
Co-artistic and participation director Jo Sadler-Lovett said: “We know that Elephant and Castle has a broad spectrum of people coming from different parts of the world, with different backgrounds and beliefs. Many families find it challenging to access theatre or other activities that cater for multiple needs, for a number of reasons including financial constraints, lack of (or perceived lack of) family friendly activities on offer or inaccessibility of activities.
“We created the pop-up events in unexpected places, including a high street bar Golazio, a cinema inside local foodie destination Mercato Metropolitano and a shop inside Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre. This encouraged families to explore new spaces that were still local and accessible. It also shows how willing local businesses are to support the community around them, if given the right opportunity for this to happen.”
And, according to Jo, the shows were such a success many of the 280 people who engaged asked for them to become a regular feature of Elephant and Castle life.
What is the Elephant and Castle Community Fund?
Delivered in partnership between Elephant Park developer Lendlease and Southwark Council, the fund – offering between £500 and £10,000 – supports a diverse range of projects and workshops in the area each year.
It was introduced in 2012 to help groups that benefit people who live, work and study within Elephant and Castle. Initially launched to support organisations during the regeneration of the area, the fund has continued every year since, thanks to continuing donations from Lendlease and Southwark Council.
Look out for more in this series on the 2018 Community Fund winners, including Business Launchpad and the Walworth Society.