Hammersmith reflections

This time a guest blog by Sian Alexander (Lyric Hammersmith)

Welcome back to our blog “Hammersmith Reflections” where our Trustees share with us their thoughts about Hammersmith United Charities and our local area. This time we have a special guest writing for us: Sian Alexander, Chief Executive of the Lyric Hammersmith. Keep on reading to find out more about the Lyric, what they do and their role as an organisation at the heart of Hammersmith.

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The Lyric has an extraordinary history in Hammersmith. There’s been a theatre on this site for more than 120 years – not quite as long as Hammersmith United Charities – but plenty long enough to be firmly rooted in our local community.

Forty-five years ago, the Lyric was threatened with demolition to make way for a new shopping and housing complex. There was a huge public outcry and, at the eleventh hour, the local council decreed that the Lyric’s exquisite Matcham plasterwork auditorium would have to be preserved and painstakingly reconstructed in a new theatre above the Kings Mall Shopping Centre, where the theatre stands today: a Victorian auditorium above a 1970s shopping centre and now with a state-of-the art 21st Century extension on the side.

So we owe our very existence to the people of Hammersmith, and it’s this history that gives the Lyric such a strong sense of community ownership. In response to this, we feel a real responsibility to play a leading civic role locally, opening up the arts and creativity to all, and ensuring the Lyric fulfils its obligation to be an iconic cultural hub for west London.

The Lyric Hammersmith. Copyright Jim Stephenson 2015

It’s three years since we reopened with our Reuben Foundation Wing extension which houses new education and creative spaces.  Working with our 9 partner organisations here at the Lyric – DanceWest, TriBorough Music Hub, Action on Disability, Amici, Musiko Musika, New English Ballet Theatre, TEAfilms, Turtle Key Arts and Zoonation – we run an extensive programme of creative classes and activities, after school and in the holidays with over 40,000 attendances by young people age 0 – 25 in the last year alone. We know that 40% of young people attending come from Hammersmith and Fulham and more than 80% from the west London area. We also work with local schools, providing artists in residence, teacher training and networks, and opening our spaces for workshops and performances.

Inclusivity is very important to us and we pride ourselves on being a warm, open and inclusive space in Hammersmith. We run a wide range of pioneering programmes to ensure that the arts are open to all young people including those who are marginalised in some way. This includes those who are not in education, employment or training; those who are in care; who are disabled; who are newly arrived; or in the criminal justice system. A brilliant example of this is our Journeys company of disabled and non-disabled performers who recently performed in our Evolution Festival of young artists, with the support of Hammersmith United Charities.

As Chief Executive of the Lyric Hammersmith I see first hand every day the power of the arts to change lives.

We are passionate about making sure that young people from all walks of life have the opportunity to explore and express their creativity, developing essential life skills such as confidence, team work and self esteem along the way.

But we’re also here for them if they discover a real talent and ambition to forge a career in the creative industries. We can help them find pathways into further training or employment and we provide a platform for young artists to make and share their work. The creative industries, after all, are one of the fastest growing employment sectors in the UK.

But if the Lyric is at the heart of Hammersmith, at the heart of the Lyric is our beautiful auditorium. We are very proud to be one of the UK’s leading producing theatres with an award-winning programme that has everything from bold and adventurous contemporary theatre to big musicals to London’s best panto. Oh yes we do!

But if the Lyric is at the heart of Hammersmith, at the heart of the Lyric is our beautiful auditorium. We are very proud to be one of the UK’s leading producing theatres with an award-winning programme that has everything from bold and adventurous contemporary theatre to big musicals to London’s best panto. Oh yes we do!

If you haven’t been to the Lyric before or would like to try something new, why not sign up for Free First Night? Every year we give around 2500 free first night tickets to people who live or work in Hammersmith or Fulham, many of whom haven’t been to the theatre before.

The Lyric is a charity, and grateful for the support of enlightened funders like Hammersmith United Charities. We’re also grateful for the support of the people of Hammersmith – by buying tickets, hiring our spaces and eating and drinking in our bar, restaurant and café you are contributing to all our work on and off stage and helping to ensure that the Lyric is a vibrant community resource for at least another 120 years in the future.

I hope to welcome you to the Lyric soon.

Sian Alexander
Chief Executive
Lyric Hammersmith

Goodbye to Tim

We said Goodbye to our CEO Tim Hughes on the 8th November. We marked his transition into a life of unpaid work with a Tea Party.
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Hammersmith Reflections – Why we need art

Guest blog entry by Nora Laraki

 

Most of you know me as the Administrator of Hammersmith United Charities, the first point of contact when walking through our doors in Sycamore Gardens. But since 2017 I have also dedicated my time to do a PhD and dive with this research project deeper into the art world. (more…)

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Hammersmith Reflections – Solutions for an Ageing Society

Guest blog by Geoff Hands, business mentor

“Solutions for an Ageing Society” is part of Hammersmith United Charities’ programme of Social Enterprise Grants. Under the direction of Melanie Nock, HUC’s Head of Community and Partnership, it provides funds to launch new business ideas created by budding local entrepreneurs to enhance the quality of life of older residents in the Borough.

As well as offering grants, Hammersmith United Charities also provides a Business Mentor to help each entrepreneur work up a business plan and to support the successful launch of each new business. Coming from a background of law and business, I have had the good fortune to be that Mentor since the programme started in the summer of 2017.

The entrepreneurs are inspiring people, sharing a common characteristic – a fervent and infectious passion for their cause. All except one of them have been women; some young, most of them of a mature age, all of them coming from a variety of ethnicities reflecting the great diversity of cultures to be found in the Borough.

Their business ideas have been just as diverse, but they have mostly shared the common themes of combatting loneliness and enhancing community cohesion. One entrprenuer’s aspiration was to be an Energy Specialist for the Indoor Environment, bringing her career skills in energy efficiency and sustainability to enhancing the indoor environment of residential homes and day centres for older people. Another woman has been working closely with her daughter to establish an elderly persons’ care-at-home business embodying the cultural mores of her community particularly the love of older people and respect for their wisdom and experience.

Cooking and creative arts are well known antidotes to loneliness and insecurity. One very talented young grantee’s solution for an ageing society was “to lift people out of loneliness using food to create a community that meets regularly to talk about health, diet and cooking”. It was her belief “that inspiring people to cook for friends and family is a way to regain self-confidence and that giving the lunch participants new recipes and ideas to try at home will hopefully be an incentive for them to host more social gatherings on their own”.

A Solutions for an Ageing Society grant has been supporting another extremely gifted award winner in successfully testing her business idea in the local community – in sheltered housing, churches and community halls. Her scheme is to run “hands-on professional fun and creative Art &Crafts workshops with a focus on Textile Art and Felt Making for the elderly, in a safe and supporting environment” expressly with a view to “to fighting isolation, improving health and well- being and making friends by stimulating the senses and challenging minds to learn new hands-on skills”. She and I are currently working together on ways to take her idea to a new level and to grow it into a fully-fledged sustainable social enterprise.

These grants also extend to seed-corn funding an award winner intent on breaking down the taboos that prevent men from certain cultures talking about – and doing something about – the incidence of prostate cancer.

A Social Enterprise Grant from the charity is supporting a new organisation whose mission is the relief of domestic violence in the Borough particularly against immigrant women not able to speak English in isolation imposed by their violent partners. It teaches these victims that domestic violence is not an accepted norm in society, finds them a sanctuary and embraces them in a community of women with shared experiences but now assertive and independent in their own chosen milieu.

And a final “hurrah” for the one man in the scheme – a Life Coach seeking to establish a sustainable business providing a programme of Personal Development Workshops for elderly people. He hopes to introduce a pioneering ingredient – “cross generational mentoring” to integrate different generations working together and supporting each other in motivational life skills.

It is a privilege to work with these compassionate and dedicated people. One of the entrepreneurs wrote recently: “I must tell you that the time I spent with you and Melanie really did restore my self-confidence which had been knocked after almost a year of unemployment. I will be forever grateful for the confidence and belief HUC gave to me during that dark time.” An unexpected accolade for Hammersmith United Charities from an unexpected, unintended but nonetheless very welcome beneficiary.

Hammersmith United Charities has funded this programme in partnership with Unltd and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation.

Geoffrey Hand
October 2018

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January Grants deadline

Apply for a grant by 7th January!

The next deadline to send your grant application will be the 7th January.

Find our application form and entry requirements here.

Contact Melanie Nock if you would like to talk to us about your idea or your application.

We look forward to receiving your application!

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