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Interview: the founders of Social Convention discuss their club for the 'creative and curious'

Image: Social Convention founders, Cimeon Ellerton-Kay and Natalie V Hall

Founded in 2018 by Cimeon Ellerton-Kay and Natalie V Hall, Social Convention aims to bring something different to London’s creative scene – a combination of studio support for new projects, networking possibilities to make new connections and take careers up a notch, and kick-ass parties to make it all go with a bang. Now they’ve opened a spanking new venue too, a stone’s throw from the new City Hall by Canning Town. We spoke to Nat to find out the latest.


Ben Walters: What does Social Convention do?

Natalie V Hall: The short answer is: we’re a club for the creative and curious. The long answer is: lots of things! A venue for people to hang out and discover new performances and exhibitions, a network of artists and producers sharing skills and opportunities and a studio where creatives can get the support and space they need to make new artworks happen. We also just throw really good parties. 


Ben: You've just opened a bricks-and-mortar venue – what does that enable?

Nat: Traditional arts spaces come with the expectation to sit down and be quiet, a lack of agency and flexibility from an audience point of view and warm wine in plastic cups. We always dreamed of a space where we could design audience and artist interactions in really thoughtful, warm, delightful ways with a super strong sense of community and self-identification with what we do. Being in one place means we can create a vibe, a mood and ongoing relationships between people. Also we can now sell some lush drinks (boozy and zero proof!), which it turns out is pretty core to the bottom line of making art, lol. 


Image: Social Convention 

Ben: Tell us about your ARTPARTY events – can anyone come and what can they expect?

Nat: ARTPARTY is basically the monthly flagship event of the space. The idea is to de-wankify the process of discovering and enjoying new art and performance. How do you do that? With a party! It does what it says on the tin. 

Everyone is welcome at ARTPARTY. It’s an event where anyone can enter a stranger, join a super welcoming community and experience some new works from emerging and cutting-edge artists and performers. We do it the last Friday of every month and it’s pay-what-you-can - plus we hold it in our bar space so it really feels like it's open to everyone, not hidden in some big arts institution. And we always have a DJ on board for a proper knees-up. We always end with everyone throwing shapes on the dance floor.

We also invite everyone to DO or MAKE something. In the past, that’s ranged from a mini dance class with a burlesque star to creative visualisations with an art director and Buddhist monk from Chiang Mai! 

For the next event, everyone will be making some fun things will clay (I think I’ll make some ashtrays for our beer garden space), and we’ll be screening two short stop motion animation works from a young Newham-based filmmaker, Djofray Makumbu. 

The point is, enjoying art and making art are two ends of the same rope. Make some stuff, have some fun and don’t take it too seriously! 

Ben: What other current projects are you excited about? 

Nat: Our first original production in the new space will be 100 LEAGUES, a live immersive audiovisual album by longtime network member, actor and singer-songwriter Rosie Strobel and our co-founder Cimeon Ellerton-Kay. Think video projection, live music, dance and DJs all coming together to tell a story of motherhood, voyaging and loss. 

We’re also starting a cult film screening series with RANK Films, aka Oly Kemp, in January. Surround sound, a private bar, and free popcorn with some OUTRAGEOUSLY over the top films. 


Image: Social Convention, ARTYPARTY

Ben: What do you think are the biggest challenges facing creative projects in London right now?

Nat: We’re obviously seeing a shift in the ways traditional funders are working with the arts right now and that’s hit London pretty hard. The lingering effects of the pandemic plus the cost of living crisis is hurting fundraising, ticket sales, attendance, and everything. So that’s a stiff challenge but it’s also an opportunity: how do we as creatives get a little more entrepreneurial, a little more collaborative, apply some of the radical thinking we use in our creative process to the business of making it? (We’ve written some industry articles about this so we’re sort of keen on the idea! Here’s one on how to become more dynamic, another on managing creativity in times of uncertainty, and one on responding to change creatively

If we can all get a little weird and a lot more collaborative, we’ll be in a stronger position to fight some of the gloom hanging over the creative industries right now. That’s why at our space we encourage people to join a table with someone they don’t know, to do creative things together, to connect around some really joyful or emotional or just plain weird art. It’s also why we have a Lego set – make something with someone you don't know. Anything to bring a little more warmth, spark, shock, and magic!


Ben: What kind of people are you looking to work with in the future and how can they get involved? 

Nat: We love liveness, we love digital, we love heightened text and media, we love Queerness and everything that falls under that umbrella – and we love work that might initially sound impossible to put in front of audiences.

We talk a lot about what we call “unconventional human magic” – that ineffable thing that can light up a room and bring everyone together. We love anything that pushes boundaries, that’s interactive and joyful, that reimagines digital and our modes of engaging with the world. We especially want to work with Newham and East London based artists, and we always focus on working with creatives from historically marginalised backgrounds. 

We produce some work in-house, we co-produce work with other partners and we also help kickstart projects through hands-on coaching and larger consulting projects. And our space is available for residencies, production and rehearsal work and shows. We’re programming for next year now – drop us a line or come down for a pint!  You can reach me directly at

Social Convention is at 2 Caxton St North, London E16 1XJ.

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Open Mic night with some of the best indie musicians in London, Dec 7



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