History and Mission
Brixton Splash is a community led, free street festival aimed at celebrating the diversity of the Brixton community, its progress through the years and the fusion of numerous ethnic groups that now call Brixton home. Brixton Splash creates a “cultural explosion proudly specific to their location and history”.
"We successfully balance welcoming those who are just discovering Brixton with those who have always believed in Brixton’s unique identity, throughout the years. We remain loyal to and proud of our Afro-Caribbean heritage which has defined our community since the Windrush generation of the late 1940’s and 1950’s."
Free & Open
The Festival is free for everyone, operates between midday and 7pm on the first Sunday in August every year and has become a premier event in the London Events Calendar. There are a range of attractions at the event including live music, poetry, art exhibitions, street theatre, crafts, children’s activities, food sales, sound systems and domino competitions.
A few highlights of the Brixton Splash festival
1. Main stage for emerging artists local to Brixton and 4 further sound systems
2. Free Arts workshops for children and teenagers
3. Craft Market for entrepreneurs to sell their creations
4. 45 stalls selling authentic Caribbean food as well other world cuisines that are gaining recognition in the ever burgeoning Brixton Village
5. A wide range of volunteer opportunities for young people not in employment , areas of training include: stewarding, event delivery, site building, media and PR relations
From Infamous to Famous
The first Splash event in 2006 marked the 25th anniversary of the Brixton Riots. The event was originally set up in order to “showcase the vibrant face of Brixton and positively rebrand the area” after extensive negative publicity.
For background information on the Brixton Riots of the 1980's
Lambeth is one of the most diverse boroughs in the country, with over 130 languages spoken. Brixton sits in the heart of the borough and is a bustling hive of activity. There is a strong history of music and the creative arts and numerous cultural groups are based in the area.
The Festival is a celebration of community cohesion, vibrant inner city living and Brixton’s contribution to the wider world. Brixton is currently the go-to area in London to enjoy everything culinary and creative with big name businesses moving to the high street and entrepreneurs developing the markets.
At the moment Network Rail are proposing to redevelop the areas of Brixton underneath the famous railway arches. This will mean evictions, and rent hikes for the local businesses that are there and will undoubtedly affect the local landscapes. The popularity of Brixton Splash is surely an indicator that Brixton is now miles away from its image of the 1980’s yet clearly it is the people who have worked hard to change their areas image, will Brixton Splash still thrive as it becomes more popular and commercially attractive.
Article on network rail: http://www.brixtonblog.com/save-our-shops-latest-statement-from-cllr-jack-hopkins/28357
Remembering Brixton’s roots
In 2012 organisers created a Brixton Tea Dance to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Independence of Jamaica. The tea dance was a recreation of the welcome efforts for the early Windrush pioneers when Lambeth Council organised a similar event in 1962 which was attended by civic officials and newly arrived Jamaicans. The dance was recreated to celebrate the history and contributions of 200 local Jamaicans and friends of the Jamaican community in Lambeth.
Funding & Sponsorship
Brixton Splash Ltd is a non-profit company, which has been created to lead and manage the Brixton splash event and to engage with the local community to encourage participation and growth. The current board comprises of locally based voluntary directors.
Brixton Splash is supported by the Arts Council England and sponsored by local businesses, primarily local bars and music venues.
For the 2015 Brixton Splash, organisers have introduced a crowd-funding site to raise £20,000 in light of the funding cuts from Arts Council however there is a risk that if they cannot achieve their funding goal, they will not receive further funding from the Arts Council.
Lambeth Council and Metropolitan Police both support the event and have done since its inception nearly 10 years ago.
“It is acknowledged that creating an inclusive governance structure, involving local people, businesses and other statutory agencies to shape Brixton Splash in to the future could help Brixton Splash be a part of the continuing building of community cohesion, while demonstrating the social responsibility and commitments of Partners to Brixton”
Bickford writes that who we happen to see regularly as we move through the world has an influence on who we think of as citizens, do you think street festivals that are open and in busy high streets could influence the way certain people see ‘others’ i.e. immigrants, minority groups.
Do you think most attendees to the festival are aware of the political and social background of the festival and the message it is trying to convey, do you think people just see it as a party? How realistic is to expect a street festival to influence local politics?
Do you think urban festivals such as Brixton Splash could act as a prototype for the way our urban spaces are designed and built? Do you think it could be a strong argument for the retention of public spaces?
Do you think this could work in other contexts?
In urban spaces we are more likely to bump into strangers than people we know, festivals can make us slow down and interact with those we may not normally talk to to what extent does the festival being free and open influence the dynamic of the event?