Throughout 2018, in the wake of the Windrush scandal, Hackney Council led the way in being proactive in the support of its African Caribbean community. The Windrush Generations Festival provided a wide range of arts, cultural and heritage activities, appealing to different age groups.
The Festival has been selected as the 2020 winner of the Hearts for the Arts Award for Best Arts Project – Community Cohesion. In the words of our judges, here’s why
It has perhaps never been more important than it is now to “celebrate our Windrush heroes and their stories as widely as possible”, and I hope that the legacy of this project lasts for many generations to come. Alom Shaha: Physics teacher, dad, author of Mr Shaha’s Recipes for Wonder
There was an urgent need for this project and may its impact continue. Errollyn Wallen CBE: composer
Bravo to Hackney Council for this highly needed festival of what is an important part of their local social history, and a beautiful reminder to us all that we need to be proud of the roots of our diversity and why people were encouraged to come to the UK in the first place. It seems that this event is still making generational waves and creating pride across the communities and age groups. Gary Kemp: actor, musician, songwriter, founder member of Spandau Ballet
You can’t argue with those impact statistics. Hackney Council have shown themselves to be fully committed to honouring the legacy of the Windrush elders and were hugely successful in bringing their stories to the fore. Particularly excited about the Windrush artwork commission and the community involvement in choosing it. Julie Hesmondhalgh: actor, activist
It is great to see that one of the outcomes from the project is a community catalyst fund to support future local arts activity. I loved that this project brought different generations together in such a positive and creative way. The project’s legacies will also mean future generations will have the opportunity to engage and learn. Kirstie Wilson: Kirklees Council, winner 2019 Hearts for the Arts Best Local Authority Arts Champion – Officer
As a society, we are the sum of the things we have experienced, and the stories we tell about them. If those stories are silenced (or the people who would tell them are deported), we all suffer. Hackney has healed a wound here, and promoted new growth as well. The very definition of community cohesion, done sensitively, beautifully, practically (I love the cookbook) and with huge reach. Congratulations to all concerned. Samuel West: actor, director, Chair of the National Campaign for the Arts
One statistic in particular struck me from this wonderful project: that 100% of participants said that they would share something they learnt about the Windrush generation with another person. An understanding of the contribution of those who changed so much of Britain for the good is now more necessary than ever – we need to keep sharing, and this Festival can be our inspiration. Susie Dent: lexicographer, etymologist, host of Countdown’s ‘Dictionary Corner’
Read more about Windrush Generation Festival’s nomination here
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