Creative Barking & Dagenham

Working with local ‘Cultural Connectors’ to bring the arts to everyday life
Mad Hatter's Tea Party as part of Sadia Ur-Rehman's neighbourhood commission at Mark's Gate
Mad Hatter's Tea Party as part of Sadia Ur-Rehman's neighbourhood commission at Mark's Gate
Photo: Sadia Ur-Rehman
Mural at Valence House, a landmark commission from Create and Chad McCail
Mural at Valence House, a landmark commission from Create and Chad McCail
Photo: Emil Charlaff
Lily, daughter of a Cultural Connector, enjoying a trip
Lily, daughter of a Cultural Connector, enjoying a trip
Photo: Dabuju Media
Mad Hatter's Tea Party as part of Sadia Ur-Rehman's neighbourhood commission at Mark's Gate
Mad Hatter's Tea Party as part of Sadia Ur-Rehman's neighbourhood commission at Mark's Gate
Photo: Sadia Ur-Rehman
Participants of the Make Good neighbourhoods commission on the Mark's Gate estate
Participants of the Make Good neighbourhoods commission on the Mark's Gate estate
Photo: Anita Adeshina
Mad Hatter's Tea Party as part of Sadia Ur-Rehman's neighbourhood commission at Mark's Gate
Mad Hatter's Tea Party as part of Sadia Ur-Rehman's neighbourhood commission at Mark's Gate
Photo: Sadia Ur-Rehman
Cultural Connector Farida at Artonik's Colour of Time performance at the Out There Festival, Great Yarmouth, 2014
Cultural Connector Farida at Artonik's Colour of Time performance at the Out There Festival, Great Yarmouth, 2014
Photo: JayBright Photography
Punchdrunk's St Ethelburga's Hallowtide Fair at Eastbury Manor House, a landmark commission in 2014
Punchdrunk's St Ethelburga's Hallowtide Fair at Eastbury Manor House, a landmark commission in 2014
Photo: Paul Cochrane
Becontree 100 commission with photographer AF Rodrigues
Becontree 100 commission with photographer AF Rodrigues
Photo: AF Rodrigues

Where: Barking and Dagenham 
With: Studio 3 Arts, A New Direction, London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, Barking and Dagenham College, Barking and Dagenham Council for Voluntary Service, Barking Entreprise Centre, Independent artistic advisors and our local resident Cultural Connectors.

"I was born in Barking but have lived most of my life in Dagenham. I’ve always been looking to leave to be honest.  To go somewhere where there is more of the stuff going on that I like. But just now, there’s so much good stuff going on that for the first time I actually think I might stay."
Susanna, Cultural Connector and local resident.

Creative Barking and Dagenham (CBD) creates new ways for local people to experience outstanding arts and creative activities. It also aims to put the area firmly on the map as a place to make and enjoy exciting art in all its many forms.

The project consists of artist commissions, a locally-led outdoor programme, audience development activity both in the local area and further afield, funds and ongoing support for creative events and building capacity within the local arts sector.

CBD is underpinned by its Cultural Connectors, an ever growing network of more than 100 local adult residents who work with them to build enthusiasm for arts and culture at a local level, and who take part in decision making panels allocating funds and choosing artists to work on the programme. Cultural Connectors take on different individual roles too, from chairing meetings, to supporting specific engagement and marketing initiatives; some have also progressed into paid roles with, or associated with the programme.

So far, the programme has offered local residents more than 300 different creative events, workshops and activities involving 133 volunteers and around 8000 participants at 25 venues across the borough. It's supported 38 local creative projects with £350,000 worth of funding too, and to date has involved more than 50 community groups and 70 artists and arts organisations. CBD has also been the catalyst for attracting £280k income into the borough for additional creative projects.

Summer 2015 sees the Cultural Connectors programming an ambitious and exciting summer festival season, inspired by their experiences of seeing outdoor arts last year. The festivals will showcase street arts, circus, music and dance, with performers from overseas as well as the local area. Highlights include Artonik’s Holi-inspired performance The Colour of Time, No Fit State’s Open House and up and coming dancer, Botis Seva who will be dancing at DAGFEST ahead of his first show at Sadlers Wells in September. 

2015 will also see CBD's connections with organisations growing, with audience development work planned with Barbican, Royal Opera House and Sadlers Wells.  Artist commissions for the year include the site specific performance, Well, led by Geraldine Pilgrim at the historic and unique ex-Sanofi Factory and Close and Remote touring the area in a Ford Transit Van, making a series of 50 one minute films with and about local people.