Sydenham Arts Festival is an annual celebration of music, theatre, dance, art, film, spoken word, outdoor and family events – taking place in venues both familiar and unusual in and around Sydenham for two weeks every July. It transforms non-conventional spaces into performance and exhibition venues: Pubs, churches, halls, parks, shops, libraries, schools and the high street. And more than half of its events every year are completely FREE!
Now in its 6th year, Sydenham Arts Festival is an innovative commissioning and producing festival that thinks big. It provides free participatory workshops engaging the public in new arts skills: Dance, drama, singing, film-making and poetry to name just a few. It also mentors young people and new writers through its ongoing projects, creates open–air theatre for all ages and brings big names such as Benjamin Zephaniah, Roger McGough, Sir Andrew Motion, Roy Williams, and Glenn Tilbrook to a small suburb.
In 2014 the festival will feature more than 65 events including a prestigious poetry event with Jackie Kay and John Hegley; community musical, Till the Boys Come Home, marking the centenary of WW1; another Stage Write Playwriting Showcase, free theatre on the bus 202 x 12, and a high-profile open-air music event, Arts in the Park Till Late to close the proceedings. Invited artists at this closing event include Glenn Tilbrook (of Squeeze) and Janet Kay & Carroll Thompson (“Silly Games”).
In the future SAF has grand ambitions of linking up with other South London festivals, to share resources, ideas and publicity. It also hopes to develop an ongoing mentoring programme for new artists, writers and performers, especially young people. And lastly, it plans to develop a permanent home – an arts centre for Sydenham and the surrounding area that will showcase the festival’s work every year and provide a home for its resident theatre company Spontaneous Productions.