t’s a long-term commitment to establish an exciting creative scene and build on what already exists,” says Euston Town project manager Georgie Street. Devised in partnership with MTArt Agency and supported by Camden Council, the programme is part of a multi-pronged response to the challenges facing the area, and offers an opportunity for talent to emerge and prosper.
At a time when construction sites and changing traffic routes are the norm, the aim is to cultivate a sense of place, and protect the locality’s unique and vibrant character. Progress has already been made, with projects such as Make Space and Humans of Camden – and this pledge provides a formalised gameplan. We grab Georgie for a chat.
What’s the background thinking?
We have amazing organisations like Camden People’s Theatre, and Old and New Diorama that are all really entrenched in the area, but they’re not gaining anything from the fact that they’re a stone’s throw from bigger institutions like the Wellcome Collection and the Royal College of GPs. We want people to benefit from living next door to the British Library, and that also extends to these smaller enterprises.
What are the goals?
Such dramatic change is happening, and there’s a feeling that residents don’t have ownership over the future of where they live – anger, concern and anxiety around HS2. Art can uplift and empower, but in order to accomplish that, we need to have a strategy that safeguards us from becoming another development that’s happening to the community, rather than for it or with it.
What does the strategy involve?
A culture group that will meet every quarter, and have a broad and holistic approach. It will consist of representatives from different sides: locals, and professionals such as architects, agents, landscape designers and creatives. It’s going to be a collaborative process where they inspire one another.
What do you hope do achieve?
We want a centralised vision rather than having individual projects that don’t belong to a wider concept. Euston has galleries, independent theatres and world-renowned institutions: this is a way of finally tying those things up and being more than a train station or a place of transit. People talk
about the British Library all the time, but they don’t think of it as being opposite Somers Town. This policy connects them. It’s more than just installing art and the immediate PR that goes around that, it’s about ensuring the community is part of the conversation and they understand the objectives.
How will Euston be impacted?
We’re looking at things from all perspectives: maybe there’s an empty space that we should be utilising more that would benefit from some seating and planting. We may facilitate a showcase at the Camden People’s Theatre, or expand the opportunities of Chalton Gallery. It may be the case that the culture group feeds into other ongoing initiatives. It’s not necessarily about permanent installations either; we could organise an event like a street party. We’re open-minded, but we’ve also been operating for three years, and are aware of some locations that are spoken about constantly – we know a few that will definitely be honed in on. We don’t want to inflict art: the intention is to build something that the public helps guide.
Main image: Nara Parana