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Get ready for 1000's of creatives at Hackney WickED 2019

From 26-28 July east London's annual weekend arts festival Hackney WickED returns to Hackney Wick and Fish Island to celebrate the creative spirit of local art. You can experience open studios spanning works by painters, sculptors, film makers, performance artists, designers, photographers, musicians and lots of quirk weird surprises.

Contemporary artists from SPACE Studios, Stour Space, Grow Studios, London Centre for Book Arts, Arbiet Studios, Studio Wayne McGregor, Mother X and more will open up their studios for all and the Hackney WickED group show <WHO ARE WE> curated by Anna Maloney (Director of Hackney WickED Collective) will bring together a diverse and exciting group of artists to respond to ‘our political, physical and cultural identities as human beings’ in the pop-up exhibition space at The Trampery on Fish Island.

Over 20 venues and 1000s of creatives will come together to celebrate the importance of artistic endeavour amidst the rapid urbanisation which continues around Hackney Wick and Fish Island. Expect creative acts of defiance, unity, and celebration through the power of dance, music, art installations, live art, plus cafés, markets and a wide programme of evening fringe events.

Hackney WickED's Creative Director, Anna Maloney spoke to Run-Riot about the importance of arts community, long term sustainability for the festival, and the ethos of inclusivity and diversity on which Hackney WickED continues to build on.

Jareh Das: How did you first come involved with Hackney WickED Art Festival?

Anna Maloney: It was in 2009 while on a career break that I first discovered Hackney Wick via a friend and serendipitously then in doing so stumbled upon Hackney WickED. I offered my skills on a pro-bono basis, managing Press & PR, Digital Marketing, Partnerships and Sponsorship, and then got hooked! The role developed into a Managing Director role to oversee all aspects of fundraising and event delivery, and connecting with the creative communities of Hackney Wick. The annual Art event is now in its 10th edition and takes place every summer over a three-day period to showcase the work of local artists on an international platform - people practicing all art forms open their studios to the public, or show work using local galleries and other pop-up spaces. I’m enthused by anything that’s pushing boundaries and bringing people together for the greater good!

My background is in the arts, creative and cultural industries. Prior to joining Hackney WickED, I was an Ambassador to promote Liverpool European Capital of Culture 2008 internationally, and led the development of a five-year strategy across VisitBritain, the national tourism marketing agency. I’ve been lucky to always work for brands that I believe are doing good, including Royal Albert Hall, Royal Horticultural Society and an amazing range of music festival. I currently lead the Culture Diary programme, showcasing the best of British culture and creative industries and supporting international collaboration between nations and increased exports from the UK.

Jareh: Could you speak a bit about the Hackney WickED Collective? Its drive and mission particularly for the future…

Anna: As one of the largest creative communities in Europe, our mission is to highlight the diverse creative talent of Hackney Wick and wider area. Over the years, we have established a dynamic art festival celebrating East London and international artists, organised thousands of local open studios, put on hundreds of events, and continued to showcase the unique creativity of the area. Our aim is to help the capital remain a leading cultural and creative city, and retain and support the fantastic talent we have here and support the development of East Bank as a new culture centre for the city, bringing new and existing cultural organisations together.

Jareh: The press release for Hackney WickED DIY Open Studios 2019 speaks of the festival’s roots as a way to counteract and push back on the gentrification of Hackney and neighbouring Stratford brought on by the 2012 Olympics. What has been the central ethos that kept the festival going for over a decade?

Anna: In 2008 when the handover from Beijing to London was taking place, artists and galleries decided to come together to have one unified voice to be heard and try and protect the area from the ‘Shoreditch effect’ and people being moved on. That’s how Hackney WickED was born, but it was nearly a year before I discovered it so can’t say I was there! This cycle of artists developing an area and increasing the value of land is a precedent globally from NYC to HK! But the challenge is how you work with this evolution and inevitable change to create partnerships that help support a sustainable creative communities.

Hackney WickED therefore aims to forge positive new relationships and opportunities for artists and celebrate our community, which is what, <WHO ARE WE> HWED Group Show is about this year. My long-term vision is to develop exchange programmes with other creative communities around the world, to help develop and inspire Hackney Wick artists and vice versa, hopefully developing some exciting collaborations.

Jareh: Hackney WickED has no doubt faced challenges of sustaining its DIY and experimental festival model in an area that continues to change rapidly. How will the festival continue to engage and grow with this in light of being located in an area that is vied by developers?

Anna: We continue to explore ways of engaging with artists and the public. Artists are not asked to pay for a fee to take part in the event; they just need to have local links, or passion for the area. We showcase a wide range of art forms from dance, music, art installations, live art and photography. An important part of the festival is to encourage artists and keep the people who live and work here close together, but we will seek to further develop relationships with funding bodies and partners who understand the importance of our work and community, such as our current sponsor. Our latest research study in 2014 showed that our event actually brought £1.4m additional spend - i.e. visitors who wouldn’t usually be hanging out in Hackney Wick, spending their hard-earned money in the area, our local business partners and hopefully buying new art! It’s not just about economic impact that we support but the also more human non-tangible benefits of people coming together, young people being inspired to work in the arts and creative industries, understanding that they can make a living from this, artists who have never spoken who work in the same building, collaborating, developing skills, the advantages of working in a conglomerate of creatives, and I believe we also have a few new businesses, marriages and babies under our belt ;-)

Jareh: <WHO ARE WE> is a timely theme to think through the challenges faced in global cities that include lack of affordable housing, public green spaces, rising cost of living etc. What led to this being the chosen point of departure for this year’s festival?

Anna: The current state of political unrest and environmental changes are creating major shifts in what we’ve known, and how we identify ourselves. It is this moment that has inspired the Hackney WickED Group Show for 2019. In Hackney Wick, we celebrate the great diversity of our people and that we have a mini-Europe, or we could go as far to say a mini-World within our community. Some of us may not identify with any country, nation, gender, location, home, sex… yet we are all united as Hackney WickERs! I think it’s important that we celebrate ‘unity in diversity’ during a time when there is so much fear and hate.

Jareh: What are your future aspirations for Hackney WickED Festival and the Hackney WickED Collective as its Creative Director?

Anna: Firstly, it’s to create a sustainable model with long term funding so we can develop a year year-round team. We aim to create a union between the existing creative community and the newcomers to the area within the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which will be East Bank.  

Our future aspiration for Hackney WickED is to continue attracting art lovers from across London and the world to explore the capital’s leading cultural hub and celebrate the talented artist base within this unique part of London, whilst creating international collaborations with creative communities around the world. We have such a cast array of talent here I could also see us responding to creative briefs for art events and activations around the world.

Anna Maloney: | @annamal23

Hackney WickED
Fri 26-Sun 28 July 2019

Over 20 buildings have joined forces to co-create this years' programme, including Mother Studios X, V2-View Tube, Lion Works, Dollyoli Studios, Vittoria Wharf, Peanut Factory, Hackney Wick Bouldering Centre, Arbeit/Wallis Road, White Post Lane Café, The Yard, Studio Wayne McGregor, Here East Media Centre, Bridget Riley, Space, Percy Daltons, Hub 67, Mick's Garage and more...

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