OPDC hands out first arts grants

Six community projects have been awarded funding to put art, culture and heritage at the heart of the major development and regeneration planned for Old Oak and Park Royal.

The Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC) has awarded the first successful applicants of a new funding programme for community arts and culture projects – Small Grants: In the Making.

Delivered by OPDC, with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England as part of the Great Place Scheme, the winning projects were announced by Rajesh Agrawal, Deputy Mayor for Business and Liz Peace CBE, Chairman of OPDC.

The six projects which have been awarded £5,000 each are:

  • Artwest Open Studios (pictured) – Funding will support Artwest’s 2019 Open Studios, being delivered as part of Open House weekend 2019. This will also support mentoring for local students, a new publication for resident artists as well as the production of short films to showcase their work.
  • Creating Society with Dance – A series of free dance workshops, open to people of all abilities and culminating in a final performance.
  • Fashion Rebirth – A fashion networking group for local women looking to develop careers in the fashion industry; this will include seminars, workshops and talks/visits with industry professionals.
  • Talks and Tours at HMP Wormwood Scrubs – Exhibitions and arts at HMP Wormwood Scrubs, alongside tours of the prison’s Grade 2 listed chapel.
  • Talking and Exploring – Local historian, Joanna Dudzinska, will deliver eight new walking tours in and around Old Oak and Park Royal.
  • The Sharks at Park Royal – To deliver canoeing lessons on the Grand Union Canal, the Sharks have installed a shipping container adjacent to the canal in Park Royal which will be decorated by members of the local community. They will also be purchasing new equipment and subsidising classes for students from low-income backgrounds with the first lesson free.

The funding will enable a diverse range of artists and small businesses from Old Oak and Park Royal to deliver community projects in the area. Activities will be interactive with the wider community and include walking tours, open art studios, networking events and exhibitions. Applicants can request between £500 and £5,000 to support their projects, from an overall pot of £150,000.

The announcement was made as the Deputy Mayor for Business, Rajesh Agrawal visited businesses in Park Royal following a roundtable event to discuss how City Hall can support West London’s ambitions wider for inclusive economic growth.

Established in 2015 by the Mayor of London to deliver homes and jobs to Old Oak and Park Royal, OPDC’s vision for the area celebrates its existing character and heritage. OPDC will now work closely with grant awardees to help this diverse and talented group of people get their projects off the ground.

Successful applicant, the Sharks, is a canoeing club that provides lessons for local children. Its Club Manager, Neal Underwood said: “Small Grants: In the Making has made sure we can keep providing free canoe lessons to young people in the area. When we first established the Sharks, I never thought it would play such an important role in so many local kids’ lives, giving them the opportunity to take up a hobby and get closer to the heritage of the area on the Grand Union Canal.

“Thank you OPDC for supporting us and giving something back to young people. Who knows, maybe the next Olympic canoe champion will come from Old Oak and Park Royal!”

Another project to take shape thanks to Small Grant funding is, Fashion Rebirth, a fashion networking group for local women looking to develop careers in the fashion industry. Founder, spokesperson and local resident, Tashmar Smith said: “We’re so happy to be chosen by OPDC to receive this year’s Small Grants funding.

“It’s given us the boost we need to get Fashion Rebirth up and running. It may surprise you, Park Royal industrial estate is home to many fashion houses which not only contribute to the area’s rich heritage but influence the whole industry! Fashion Rebirth is about connecting local people with the creative influences right on their doorstep, to build relationships, develop experience and share knowledge that could help them start a career in fashion.”

Deputy Mayor for Business, Rajesh Agrawal, said: “I’m proud to support OPDC’s small grants scheme, which invests in and champions community-led enterprises and the unique character of Old Oak and Park Royal.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the positive impact this funding will have for Londoners living and working in the area. Through this scheme we’re fostering entrepreneurship and celebrating creative talent, which will attract further investment into this part of west London and the capital as a whole.”

Chairman of OPDC, Liz Peace CBE, said: “One of the most rewarding parts of our regeneration work in Old Oak and Park Royal is being in a position to support initiatives driven by local people. These creative and exciting projects shine a light on west London as a hub of community enterprise and creativity.”

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