Imagine: 350 exhibitions and events in 180 venues; 47 music acts in 29 gigs; add an international film festival and the second month of a major refurbished top class museum. Where’s this cultural extravaganza taking place? A Capital of Culture somewhere in Europe? A major city’s annual programme?
Walthamstow. In September. All of it. Yes that’s right. The butt of so many jokes, a closed dog-racing stadium, E17. Walthamstow.
Well September sees an explosion of culture that consigns those jokes to history and puts Walthamstow on the map (well it’s there already: end of the Victoria Line).
The E17 Art Trail opens on 1 September is an independent artist-led project started in 2004. This year’s programmes covers all artforms (with 350 events of course it covers everything!), takes place in private houses, pubs, estate agents ( part of a poetry trail), shops, cafes, in the streets and parks: in fact just about everywhere including churches (but not yet a mosque). Check out the programme and just experience the vitality of the area. (Even better of course come along: there will be something for you).
The E17 Film Festival recalls the 1920s heyday of British films when Walthamstow predated Hollywood. “Walthamstow had four major film studios which produced over 400 films before the outbreak of the second world war. One of the most famous was The Battle of The Somme (1916). The film sold over 20 million tickets in its first six weeks – a record that could only be smashed 60 years later by the first Star Wars movie”
Music takes over at the end of the month with the Stow Festival. From Baroque ,Collegium Musicum 90, to soul to Naz Anine’s Moroccan songs to, well the list is endless (inlcuding indie for those who,, well). An advance playlist is on Spotify full line-up and gig info.
And whilst all of this is going on the newly refurbished William Morris Gallery gives a permanent venue for the borough’s culture. Socialist, craftsman, poet, entrepreneur, designer, re-discoverer of Iznik pottery, founder of the heritage and conservation movement, Morris’ life and work is celebrated in the house he lived in as a teenager and student. Hurry, as Grayson Perry’s “Walthamstow Tapestry” is on show until 23 September.
As a member of the selection panel for the European Capitals of Culture I often see cities putting forward cultural programmes which seek to engage the whole community, to bring culture and citizens closer together. The commercial benefits of a vibrant cultural scene are critical to today’s prosperity. It’s just good to live in a borough which is a capital of culture, every year.