"Creativity is good!" Consultation workshops with Philip Parr from Parrabbola

Love Camden passes the microphone to Philip Parr from creative consultation agency Parrabbola, to talk about conversations they had with Camden residents.

“I want to participate because it gets me out of my bubble.”

“Cultural activity groups seem harder to find, perhaps it’s because they’re being cut. And this affects community relations as people lose the outlets to express themselves.”

“All creativity is good, but at the moment everything feels mass-produced.”

“I love taking the kids to museums to show them history – I didn’t know Camden had so many museums!”

“Culture is about being social – not going places.”

“Money is one of the biggest (perceived) barriers to engaging with the arts – knowing more about schemes for young people would be awesome.”

These are just a few of the comments people have shared with us. We are Parrabbola: a specialist community arts organisation and we have been going out to talk with people who live, work or study in Camden. As part of the community consultation we’ve been leading, we’ve asked them to tell us what culture means to them. Or rather, as we describe it, it’s been a Cultural Conversation.

We’ve been interested to find out what people are doing, what they’d like to do – and why they want to do it.

We’ve met with people of all ages and by being on the ground across the borough we’ve talked with a good cross section of the community. We’ve been out and about in Swiss Cottage, Kentish Town, Somers Town, Bloomsbury, West Hampstead and Highgate,  inviting people to contribute their thoughts and aspirations, and invited them to create art with us using their own words and ideas.

We call this exercise Give us a Hand, because it is based around a print of your hand. Then we asked participants to give us four words they think of when thinking of culture, and to talk about what they do and what they would like to do.

This way, we’ve heard about so many interesting and exciting activities; you’ve told us how cultural activity is important to your community and your area, and you’ve said what stops you participating as much as you’d like to. It all feeds into the new Cultural Framework for Camden. Everyone has lots to say and we’re excited by all the thoughts and opinions we’ve heard.

We’ve also been asking people if they can identify cultural venues across the borough. That’s been fun too. Many people recognise a whole range of important locations, and it’s been good to introduce some of the less well known places: “That sounds interesting, I’ll have to go there,” is a phrase we’ve heard quite a number of times.

So thank you if you stopped and had a conversation with us to contribute your observations and ideas. It was fun to talk with you and we hope you enjoyed it too.

Philip Parr