Organising a festival must be a very daunting job. Where do you start?
In some ways it certainly is, so the most important thing is to have a good partner watching your back. Of course, we currently have this in the shape of London Paradise Gardens, though in the past we found a friend in Tower Hamlets council who worked with us to present the event in its old home.
You’ve been involved in Paradise Gardens for a few years now. How did it originally come into being?
Paradise Gardens was originally supposed to be a one-off event, presented as a finale to a cultural programme called Fusion East that had been taking place across Newham, Hackney and Tower Hamlets. However, it was such a success that I approached the council and together we worked out how to take it forward and make it a repeated occasion. Over the years we grew and expanded on the proposition with the help of additional funding from the Arts Council and other bodies and organisations.
Why did you personally decide to get involved with this collaboration?
One reason why London Pleasure Gardens was such a natural fit for us was that we share a common vision: we’re both inspired by the Pleasure Gardens which once entertained thousands across London, and we are both driven by the idea of recreating and updating the concept for the 21st century.
It’s also important to us to be involved with projects which really are on the creative and artistic coalface, and what LPG offer is something truly fresh that we couldn’t help but engage with.
The Silo D bulding
The World Famous pyrotechnic group are putting on a spectacular at the Silo D building at the festival, to remember those that died when a TNT factory exploded nearly 100 years ago. What made you want to commemorate this occasion and what relation does it have to the event overall?
Those of us involved in arranging artistic events which are designed to inspire and captivate are always looking for pertinent references which have deep significance for the audience you’re playing to. The Silvertown Munitions explosion of 1917 was something that really devastated the area, and caused a lot of shockwaves beyond just the literal impact of the blast. Feelings run deep about it and we wanted to help people express and process those feelings through performance.
Ida Barr, fretting over attempting the Hokey Cokey World Record
What are you most excited about at the festival? Have you got any secrets up your sleeve?
Silo D is going to be pretty unique and unmissable. However, I’m also looking forward to the music programme, which I think is pretty exciting, as well as the Cabaret showcased in the Dome on Sunday evening. In terms of individual artists, Ida Barr (played by Christopher Green) is always a great laugh, and her Hokey Cokey World Record is going to be awesome.
A previous Paradise Garden Festival
This festival is FREE! A shock to anyone’s system I’m sure. How is this possible?
It’s always been something that we make possible because, while London is among the best cities in the world for incredible events, we think it’s really important to have affordable and free events which whole communities can get involved in, regardless of their income or their background. It was important both to us and to LPG that the opening event should be free and able to welcome everyone who wants to have a great time, just like the Pleasure Gardens of old.
For more information about the Paradise Gardens Festival and the London Pleasure Gardens look here