Shared news: CBD's vision for 2017 - 2019

Thank you to those of you who joined us at our event last Thursday! It was great to see over 50 people at The Boathouse Creative Studios and for us to get your feedback on the new areas of the programme.  

After a really successful first 3 years, we're raising our ambitions for the next 3, and planning to create over 80,000 opportunities for individuals to gain arts and cultural experiences through our project and will double our local residents network, The Cultural Connectors to more than 250 people.

For a summary of our work so far, and full details of our current targets and upcoming dates for 2017 click here

Merchant of Venice

Merchant of Venice chosen by the people and performed by the people

CBD was initially set up as a three year project finishing July 2016.  We're very happy to say our project has now been extended but this month still feels like an important milestone.  Not least because our final Landmark Commission opens tonight.  Chosen by a panel made up of Cultural Connectors, our arts advisor and a representative for the Mayors Office back in 2015, the panel were adamant they wanted to support this ambitious project.   

Studio 3 Arts pledged to present a professionalcast of actors alongside a team of community performers from across the Borough and stage a production of Merchant of Venice that would take the audience on a walking tour around Barking town centre as the plot unfolds.

It's now over a year later and more than 100 local people have got involved in the project, as community cast, volunteer marshalls, technical crew and more. Businesses have sponsored the show, some have offered their venues as locations for the play and many more are displaying posters in their windows.

Local residents have commented on the script, been part of rehearsed readings and for some local residents including our own Cultural Connectors their audition was enough to get them into the cast list! 

We hope you will come and see for yourself.

Tickets are £10, discounted to £5 for Barking & Dagenham residents.
Book at



Thanks to Michel from Couleur Cafe, who is one of many business owners locally who has helped to promote the project.

Thanks to Michel from Couleur Cafe, who is one of many business owners locally who has helped to promote the project.

Creative Barking and Dagenham Headlines

In the nearly two years since the programme was launched, the programme has offered local residents more than 800 different creative events, workshops, and activities involving 233 volunteers and around 32000 participants at 27 venues across the borough.

Our summer festivals season attracted 10,000 people to new spaces for the arts in the borough at Dagenham Village,– the historic and picturesque last remaining street of what used to be a small fishing village - and Barking Riverside – one of Europe’s biggest regeneration areas on the site of a former power station.

We’ve given out over £350,000 worth of commissions to 38 different projects, and to date have involved more than 140 community groups and 175 artists and arts organisations.

110 local residents are currently working with the CBD team as Cultural Connectors. They are involved in: every aspect of the programme including arranging trips and visits, being on funding panels, being an assistant to an artist, curating and producing festivals, leading workshops, taking photographs, doing office work, stewarding and being welcome hosts at events, helping us to interview CBD staff and freelancers. We have enabled 15 people to access new paid creative jobs or contracts in B&D

More than 600 people have been involved in regular trips to the Broadway, Southbank Centre, Tate Modern, Barbican, National Theatre, Great Yarmouth Out There festival. Our next group trip is for 200 people to see Romeo and Juliet at the Royal Opera House and we’ll be partnering with ROH and Sadlers Wells to organise regular trips from next month.

New venues: CBD has supported people to experiment with arts programming at 15 new spaces across the borough including Dagenham Starter Farm, The Rivergate Centre, Becontree Heath Leisure Centre, Barking Market, Scrattons Farm empty shop, Eastbury Manor House, Marks Gate library, Barking Bath house, Barking Learning Centre. the Boathouse, Dagenham Village, Londoneast-UK, Heath Park empty shop, Becontree Estate, Valence House and a customised Ford Transit Van!

CBD has been a catalyst for attracting over £350,000 income into the borough for local people and projects from a variety of other sources including Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Wellcome Trust, HLF, Film London, ACE Strategic Touring Fund, Grants for the Arts, Ernest Cook, Barking Riverside Ltd, Pinnacle, Esmee Fairburn and Sylvia Waddilove Foundation

Remade in Dagenham: Observer Article

CBD was visited by Joanne O'Connor of The Observer so she could find out more about the work going on in Barking and Dagenham, and the impact it's had. Joanne grew up in the borough, so was the perfect person to come and see how things have changed over the years. She visited Studio 3 Arts, and had a chat with Liza and Miriam, and also headed out to get a sneak peak of WELL, and also to see the Becontree Mural

To find out what Joanne had to say, head over to the Observer website to read the article: Remade in Dagenham: how the arts are helping the borough celebrate its past

DAGFEST - A Brilliant Day

DAGFEST - A Brilliant Day

On Saturday 11th July, DAGFEST came alive in Dagenham Village, attracting over 5000 people for a fantastic day of art, circus, craft, comedy and performance.

DAGFEST was the biggest event so far that Creative Barking and Dagenham have organised – from our Cultural Connectors initiating and steering the event, the number of volunteers on the day (57), down to the amount of balloons tied and slushies bought! Here’s our report on the day, with selected quotes from people who were there and kindly filled in our surveys.

Trampoline tactics with Max Calaf

Trampoline tactics with Max Calaf

Max Calaf is the extraordinary trampolinist featuring at Dagfest this weekend. His acrobatics and story telling have entranced thousands throughout the world. A dazzling, entertaining force, Max is performing twice at Dagfest, at 2pm and at 4:20pm. Catch him in the air (but not literally!) at the Circus Zone. We asked Max a few questions on life as a trampolinist.


Lost in Translation: Pizza and Circuses

Lost in Translation: Pizza and Circuses

Lost in Translation are at DAGFEST this Saturday with their wonderful circus workshops (from 1-3pm, sign up at 12:30pm) and they are closing the circus zone with a brillaint 45 minute performance (5:15pm - 6pm). We spoke to Annabel, who co-runs the company about Malta, the modern circus and multicultural acrobatics.


A quick chat with the Bollywood Brass Band

A quick chat with the Bollywood Brass Band

On Saturday 11th July at DAGFEST (Dagenham Village 1-6pm), The Bollywood Brass Band are parading across the whole festival site, playing their unique, boisterous, funky, Bollywood inspired music to everyone.

We caught up with Mark from the band to ask a couple of quick questions in the run up to the festival.

Local Designer at London Fashion Week

Cassandra Frederick modelling one of Kim's pieces at the BLC Fashion Fun Day. © Jaybright Photography

Cassandra Frederick modelling one of Kim's pieces at the BLC Fashion Fun Day. © Jaybright Photography

Local resident, fashion designer and Cultural Connector, Kim Stevenson, has been busy lately.   She’s gone back to studying, gaining a first in her degree in Fashion Design and has shown her first collection for London Fashion Week.  Originally from Melbourne, Kim has lived in Barking for the last 7 years with her 8 year old son.  

Kim has a passion for ethical fashion, and has set up her own brand ‘The Autonomous Collections’.  She says about her work:

As a child I always had to wear second hand clothes and I hated it.  So I started to customise clothes so that it looked deliberate, and as I got older I embraced it more.  I’ve always been creative since I was young, I paint and draw, my interest in fashion is how I fuse together the two.  I really like crafting and trying to be creative with the clothes. 

My collection was inspired by the look of the American Indians, I used techniques like woven fabrics, fringing and fraying.  I’ve always wanted to create clothes that went on everybody.  When you’re at university you’re told to design for one person, your muse but I fought against that – I want my clothes to be made so that they can be worn by people of all different cultures. 

Showing my clothes at London Fashion Week was a good experience, I learnt a lot – even though it was really stressful, I got my funding really late and I only had a couple of weeks to make all my clothes.  My sewing machine was out the back the whole time!

Next steps for Kim include gaining some help in dealing with new enquiries and sourcing ethical materials.   If you are from Barking and Dagenham, have some free time and would like to gain valuable experience in the fashion industry contact us and we can put you in touch.  

Kim is a Cultural Connector for the Creative Barking and Dageham programme.  Recently local models wore her London Fashion Week  collection at the ‘Fashion Fun Day’ at Barking Learning Centre on February 28th and Kim was also a guest speaker this month at Barking Library during ‘Woman’s Week’.