Arts and education are the driving forces which make Lauderdale House a living breathing historic building. So, when three years’ worth of Lottery money for outreach came through in 2016 we were excited to be able to offer free weekly creative sessions to the young people attending Fresh Youth Academy at Highgate Newtown, our nearest youth centre and just 10 minutes down the hill.
Over the years they have enjoyed all kinds of activities with many different artists – poetry, drama, music, film making and photography plus a multitude of crafts – and we have treasured the chance to see them grow as individuals. Therefore, when the centre closed for redevelopment a year ago we were determined not to let them down, especially as many had started working towards an Arts Award qualification.
In the first instance we offered them a weekly space in the House and a year later we still love the energy and imagination they bring every Thursday evening. However, a space was only part of the challenge.
The Lottery money had come to an end, and we needed to find a way to fund the Outreach & Education Officer post. This work is intensive and the only way to make it happen is to have someone who can drive the sessions, develop meaningful relationships with the young people, and find great artists who can inspire young people.
And that’s where Camden Community Infrastructure”s (CIL) local funding has been vital. They have offered an invaluable contribution which contributes to the Officer’s salary to make sure these sessions can continue to run and which has helped ‘lever’ new funds from other local trusts, to the extent we have been able to offer Zoom sessions during lockdown, and on 8 October, as I write this, we have ‘full-house’ back ‘in-person’ in the gallery tie dying and doing African drumming.
Fresh@Lauderdale are a truly varied group of young individuals whose imagination and skills continue to grow. We are particularly proud of their exhibition of ‘spooky Victorian style’ photographs in the Courtyard gallery and treasure the comment from one of them saying, ‘It’s now my favourite thing to look forward to each week.’