Supporting art and culture in Wandsworth

Posted 14/04/2023

Higgins Partnerships has launched a Cultural Action Plan as part of its social value commitment at its latest development, Garratt Lane, Wandsworth.

The plan will enable Higgins to provide additional support to Wandsworth Council’s key cultural priorities through the work it does with the local community around art and culture with the investment having a positive impact on the local community.

Amy Ross, Director of ESG at Higgins Partnerships explains more, “We are committed to working with local communities in which we work to deliver social value initiatives that create social cohesion and improve lives.

“Art and cultural programmes are an important part of this and through the Cultural Action Plan, we are pleased to support and build on the council’s cultural priorities. We have already established partnerships with a number of local partners who are embedded in the local community to support their art and cultural programmes which will benefit everyone in the local area.”

Higgins is pleased to be working in partnership with Tara Theatre to improve opportunities for young people in Wandsworth. The theatre is the only UK theatre to produce an artistic programme which amplifies the voices, stories and talent of South Asian community, the UK’s largest minority group.

Working together, Higgins is supporting the delivery of Tara Theatre’s programme of community engagement including the launch of its Young Company for 18 to 25 year olds looking to develop a career in the arts, gain a professional credit, nurture a hobby and meet new people.

Over a 12 week period, 11 young people who have a background or connections to migration or displacement due to conflict are developing and learning key skills in performance and production of a theatre show, culminating in a week of rehearsals and a week of performances in April.

The Young Company will provide those taking part with a range of creative and life skills including public speaking, teamwork, writing and design, along with an increased feeling of community, leadership and employability skills.

Natasha Kathi-Chandra, Associate Director and Project Lead for the Young Company at Tara Theatre said, “We are delighted to be able to pilot our inaugural Young Company for 18–25-year-olds made possible by the funding from Higgins.  It has been key to our ambition to provide an extensive and unique artist development programme for artists who identify as South Asian and/or Global Majority. The company members are some of the most bright, generous, and talented young people I have met and to be devising a show with them at Tara Theatre inspires me every day. Programmes like this are important to provide young people, especially of global majority heritage, a safe space to gain professional experience as well as express and find their voices and place in the wider cultural and arts sector and the world. Come and see them in their show, they are boldly and unapologetically shaping our future!”

As part of the Cultural Action Plan, Higgins is also working with Bounce Theatre supporting its project, Turn Up, Join In. This allows artists to take residency in the Home Cafe one day a week to celebrate the health benefits of art, food and community. 

With Higgins' support. Bounce has been able to continue to host a community art project for adults. The lunch club is open for anyone registered to turn up, sit with others, make art, share stories and eat. Participants are currently making set pieces for a children's theatre piece. 

Higgins has also supported Bounce to establish a new youth theatre project for children ages 7-11. Local young children are devising a brand new performance Into the Forest - mashing up traditional tales into a new story celebrating bravery and kindness. Local teenagers are volunteering as mentors and assistant directors. The youth theatre champions a total communication approach, with children making the production through art, drama, improvisation and play to remove language barriers to participation. 

Into the Forest will be performed in July. It will be a piece of great art and ultimately a celebration of the community we have been able to build, thanks to the support of Higgins.” Comments Louise Pendry, Artistic Director at Bounce Theatre. 

In addition, Higgins is working with local artist and illustrator, Jane Porter to create an mural which will feature on the hoarding of the development. The theme follows the River Wandle from source to the Thames and highlighting its industrial heritage as well as the wildlife both in and around the river. The artwork will be a collection of collages and drawings which will be created by children from five different schools during workshops along with a half day drop in community workshop.

Jane Porter said, "I am delighted to be partnering with Higgins on this project - it's particularly exciting to be working with such a large canvas, and with so many local children and community groups. As a long-standing Wandle clean-up volunteer, it's really special for me to be able to bring my love of the river and my art practice together. It's also lovely to work with the South East Rivers Trust education and help so many people to discover more about our local river and express what they have learned through visual art."

Higgins Partnerships is developing the Garratt Lane development which will provide 105 private sale and 65 shared ownerships homes which will be marketed by Higgins Homes and 23 social rent properties for local residents. In addition, four commercial units will be built, a new pharmacy and the replacement of Brocklebank Health Centre with a larger brand-new health centre providing upgraded community health facilities which will be located on the corner of Swaffield Road and Garratt Lane, as part of an agreement with the NHS.

The development will be phased with the first phase including 44 apartments and 25 houses on a site previously occupied by an elderly person’s home and a nursery. The second phase contains 91 apartments and includes the replacement of the health centre, which are able to remain operational until the new buildings are ready for occupation, creating as little inconvenience as possible to residents.

The development has been designed by Broadway Malyan and PTE Architects as the concept Architects and Working Drawings Architects.