Cultural Connector Case Study: Karen Abaka - Wood

‘CBD has really transformed the image of Barking and Dagenham.’

It’s given me the opportunity to experience some arts that I haven’t before. I probably wouldn’t have seen those without the Cultural Connectors opportunity. It’s also brought me to a wider group of people within Barking and Dagenham. Helen inspired me to become a Cultural Connector. It was an opportunity to connect with other people. My social life tended to be more work-based and not in Barking, but now I’ve met more people and learnt more about other arts events and there’s a real collaboration going on. Going into central London is expensive anyway, and it’s just easier to do things as part of a group and be inspired by other people.

I think CBD has really transformed the image of Barking and Dagenham. I think before, it was not very cultured, but the events they’ve had this year have really opened people’s eyes to the arts. I think it’s been absolutely brilliant and there’s more of a sense of community too. Outdoor events mean you don’t necessarily have to travel or pay for a ticket, they’re more accessible. I definitely think it’s making the borough a more creative place.  There are a lot of ideas out there but I don’t think anyone has pulled them all together before, CBD is doing that. Artists themselves are quite often single individual enterprises, so it’s great that there is this umbrella group.

I didn’t know any Cultural Connectors at all before this. Through our WhatsApp group you get to know who does what and what their strengths are. The group is very active and people obviously see it as a forum where they can reach out to people. It’s got a real community feel and you can ask anything you want. It feels like a family.