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The Lounge – Roehampton


EEA has been working consistently on the Alton Estate in Roehampton since 2012. Our aim at the beginning of the project was to research, talk to and involve as many different community gatekeepers and groups as possible, building trust to go forward with development and creative consultation sessions.

In 2012, we developed Birdbrain for the Estate, supported by Wandsworth Arts team. We were working with young carers through the Street Theatre Squad and they wanted to know why nothing ever happened on their estate. Wandsworth Arts team had tried previously use the location as part of Wandsworth Arts Festival, but had found it difficult to engage the local residents.

We had a brilliant response to Birdbrain and as a result, designed a programme called The Lounge, which would support local residents to co-produce art workshops and events in their public space.

It was designed to make sure that:

  • the local community felt ownership over and connection with cultural programming in the area
  • future work was more accessible and interactive and able to resonate with a very diverse local audience and
  • we were able to build confidence and skills within the local community to support a year round connection with arts activities.

“The children were so excited to see the dancers perform and loved that it all happened so close to home. The lantern parade was a lovely opportunity for young and old to get out together and the atmosphere was just great.”

Pam Harris

EEA has been able to build an outdoor arts stakeholder group involving companies working in the area, representatives from the local schools and community groups. This is due to the success of the project’s format.

In addition to The Lounge and with support from council’s public health and arts teams, we managed to develop a winter lantern project, bringing together the library, children’s centre, parenting groups and local schools. The event has grown for the last five years, with processions, carol singing, large scale light up sculptures and a spectacular light and dance show which transformed Allbrook House. In 2017 Winterfest was organised by ROAM; CoDa Dance; Spare Tyre and Emergency Exit Arts, with grants from the Wimbledon Foundation Community Fund and the Big Lottery Fund.

In response to our community development work in the area, we were able to develop the work on the Alton Estate further. We created a new project - Roehampton Spills, which engaged local businesses in the area’s cultural activity and forged new partnerships. Work is now being undertaken to develop this model further; linking into the Housebound and Home Learners' Network in Roehampton to make sure that there is a creative offer for people who are unable to participate in the outdoor events in the area.

Through close partnership, working and involving residents in their own event, there is a really strong sense of ownership and involvement in The Lounge. 

As a result of this long term project, the stakeholders group have officially formed Roehampton Outdoor Arts Movement (ROAM) who are programming and fundraising for their own events and working towards dynamic and accessible creative and cultural programming for Roehampton.

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