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

Hammersmith Reflections – Our retiring Chairman, Mike Smith, reflects on 12 years as a trustee

It’s become a tradition at Hammersmith United Charities that retiring trustees are invited to share their reflections on their time at the charity at their final board meeting. (more…)

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Hammersmith Reflection – Artists in Residence

Encouraging creativity and participation in the arts is an important part of our work at Hammersmith United Charities. Cultural events help to improve wellbeing,  remove barriers to social inclusion and contribute to safer and stronger communities.

In June 2019,  we held “Artists in Residence”, an exhibition of work by local artists, including residents of our sheltered housing at John Betts House and Sycamore House. The exhibition was part of HF ArtsFest, an annual platform to celebrate the exceptional artists living in the borough, and we were proud to showcase the breadth of talent within the residents of our Almshouses and enable members of our local community to display their work.

The exhibition was kindly opened by Andy Slaughter MP at a fun evening at Pekoe Mellow Tea House jam packed with our friends and neighbours.

We are very grateful to the artists who allowed us to exhibit their work: Bill Forbes Hamilton, Bryan Payne and Pat Carey-Willis from John Betts House; Betty Dwyer and Joan Hurrell from Sycamore House; Carey Whitley, Dickon Reed and Jamik Wilkins from the Grove Neighbourhood Folk Art Group and local artist Layne Wyatt  Thank you also to Zena Zialor for photographing the opening night, our colleague Nora Laraki for curating the artworks and everyone who attended the exhibition.

Many of the artists have enjoyed attending the Grove Neighbourhood Fold Art Group run by Rachel Leach, a project supported by Hammersmith United Charities. Everybody is welcome regardless of their experience so if you think you could be Hammersmith’s next Picasso please take a look!    

For more photos, click here.

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Hammersmith Reflections – photojournalist Cinzia D’Ambrosi and her work for the local community

I am an independent award winning photojournalist, local resident, founder of the Photojournalism Hub. My passion and drive is to expose social justice issues through photo stories for these to be of leverage and/or of a conduit for action and change. Some of the projects I have been working on, have been exposing the plight of miners in illegal coal mines in China, the hidden homelessness in the UK with a particular focus on women and their children, police violence against refugees and asylum seekers in Europe. Through my career, I developed many collaborations with NGO’s and charities, including international campaigns with Amnesty International and Protection Approaches, Shelter in the UK. These have shaped the Photojournalism Hub’ aims. The value of connecting photojournalism to effective change and to promote photojournalism work is very important to me. Photojournalism exposes issues, raises awareness and importantly can bring about changes and recommendations in legislations, public opinion and indeed calls for action. The Photojournalism Hub is born out of these aspirations: it presents photo stories needed to be told and it has a programme that focuses on working together with communities and charities to find solutions, advocacy and exposure. Since its launch last November, the Photojournalism Hub has received an amazing support, interest and engagement from the wide public and local communities in our Talk Events, Photojournalism Nights, Open Forums and Workshops and from local organisations such as Imperial College, Hammersmith United Charities, White City Place, Petit Miracles, Stanhope, Elephant West, HFArts Fest, Re:Centre, Lido Foundation and London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham.

THE OPEN FORUMS – WORKING TOGETHER FOR SOLUTION MAKING

The Open Forums are open conversations with different communities. The idea is born from wanting to change the way we engage on social justice issues. Often, we assume that ‘we’ know what is happening to a community, instead of getting to know what is really happening. Conversations are just the first steps; a valuable way to share knowledge and in future deliver what is really needed. From the Open Forums, Photojournalism Hub creates a shareable resource content and further develops a photography based programme that addresses the issues being raised. Sometimes ideas, however beautiful, can just remain as such unless tried and tested. That the Open Forums are being well received is very important to me and I am grateful to Hammersmith United Charities for supporting them and trusting in their value in our communities.

PHOTOJOURNALISM NIGHTS, TALK EVENTS AND EXHIBITIONS

I am sharing below some keystone moments in photographs. The opening was marked by a meaningful talk by Andy Slaughter on the power of photojournalism. Since the launch, the Photojournalism Hub has presented talks on picturing community engagement with participatory photography and collaborative practices, on photojournalism today, and on domestic violence and masculinities. We have organised and presented the first Photojournalism Nights at the Elephant west gallery and we have been invited to be a partner of this year’s HF-Arts festival in which we presented a curated photography exhibition Marginal at Re:centre gallery. We deliver photography workshops at low costs and we are about to begin free photography workshops for Somali young people in collaboration with Lido Foundation and Petit Miracles.

Rob Pinney presenting his project ‘Calais, ma ville’
Ingrid Guyon discussing participatory photography at Picturing Community Engagement talk @ White City Place
Discussing photojournalism aims at Imperial College Talk event
A moment during a Photography Workshop @ Petit Miracles

It has been a milestone to present some of today’s courageous, committed photojournalism work in White City. Photojournalism deserves ample space as a form that engages, exposes and initiates actions for change. If you wish to get to know more about the Photojournalism Hub work, I would like to encourage you to sign up to our newsletter on www.photojournalismhub.org or follow us on social media: @PJ_Hub; #photojournalism_hub; Fb: Photojournalismhub

June 2019
Cinzia D’Ambrosi

 

 

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Grants Awarded May 2019

We are delighted to announce our new grantees for May 2019. We give grants to local organisations supporting local people and this year we have increased the total value of grants available to £400,000 to mark 400 years of supporting the people of Hammersmith. The next deadline for grant applications is 2 October 2019. If you’ve got a great idea then we’d love to hear from you at grants@hamunitedcharities.com

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