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Catherine Shovlin FRSA

The Big Idea: The New Cross area of south London could gain a new arts space. A previously closed public library has re-opened as New Cross Learning, inspiring and uplifting thousands of local users. Catherine Shovlin FRSA has launched a crowdfunding campaign to develop a creative arts space working with the local community…

Over the last 10 years we, Artmongers, have been stirring things up in Deptford and New Cross, South London with thought-provoking public art that changes the way people relate to space. Now we want to create New Cross's first public artspace: a giant 3D lightbox on the ceiling of New Cross Learning. We will work together with local groups, running workshops to create multimedia artworks that change every six months. Central to our aim, we will be collaborating with emerging artists in our local community as well as school children, community groups and Goldsmiths students. To do this, we need to raise nearly £5k.

This is where we need your help. Through RSA Catalyst we have launched a crowdfunding campaign, Looking up in New X, to raise the funds needed to bring a much needed art space to the New Cross area - and we have ten days left to go!

new cross

The story so far

Since it opened in 2011, New Cross Learning has quickly developed into a vibrant community hub. Locals go there for books of course, but also for computer access, street dance, poetry group, baby bounce, community meetings, training sessions, Chinese dragon making workshops and much more.

The front of the building got a great facelift in 2012 (thanks to RSA Catalyst and the Funding Network) with a participatory artwork that marked the beginning of community ownership and involvement.  Now we want to do something about the inside. New Cross doesn't have a public art space so we are raising money to make this happen.

Last year's flash mob on the A2 (for those outside London, the A2 is a major road connecting London with Kent) highlighted the challenges pedestrians face getting from one side of New Cross to the other. We didn't break any traffic rules but we definitely caused a stir. And this year's campaign to plant 1000 sunflowers has involved hundreds of school children, Goldsmiths University, local businesses and community groups. It brightened up the place and more importantly it encouraged people to realise the possibility that it is our environment and we can choose how it is. Then recently we worked with another RSA supported project - Talk to Me London to create unexpected creative interventions at bus stops in New Cross including a disco.

Taking back ownership of public space encourages all sorts of social benefits - not least the improved sense of well-being while you're taking part.

Taking back ownership of public space encourages all sorts of social benefits - not least the improved sense of well-being while you're taking part.  Enough downcast acquiescence, people in New Cross are ready to LOOK UP and improve their public spaces for themselves. Backers get to be part of the creative process, and some will even get a piece of art for their home. Most importantly, those who support this project will know that they are part of transforming an area and empowering local residents.

How you can get involved

Those living around New Cross will know how much community spirit there is in the area. We want to give something back and give local residents the chance to express themselves through art – and in a local space everyone can enjoy.

We need your help to make this happen.  Please visit the RSA crowdfunding page and find our project - Looking up in New X - and help us to reach our target. If you would like to get involved in the project or would like to visit us in New Cross, you can email me at cmshovlin@gmail.com or follow us on Twitter.

Catherine Shovlin FRSA

New Cross Learning and Artmongers

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