The Big Draw Festival 2019: Drawn To Life is officially in full swing!
As Festival co-creators across the globe work on the finishing touches for their Big Draw events, we catch up with the team at artsdepot ahead of their Big Draw Festival events on Monday 21st October, to talk all things drawing…
Photography: Lou Johnson
Hi Katie! Thanks so much for talking to us in the lead up to your brilliant programme of #TheBigDraw events. Taking our questions from the ground upwards, let’s discuss the very beginnings of artsdepot - from its conception in 1996 to its construction and opening in 2004. What was the inspiration behind this eclectic, multi-use arts space?
artsdepot was conceived by its community at a ‘Barnet 2000’ conference in July 1996 as a bold and ambitious concept to develop a major new arts facility fit for the 21st Century. The project team imagined multiple theatre and art spaces, a gallery and extensive education facilities. Helpfully this ambition chimed with a need to house other arts and education providers, and a new Bus Terminal for North Finchley. The government had recently introduced Public Private Partnerships as a way of statutory bodies unlocking resources without front loading cash. The Borough Council was also mindful of how the site of the Gaumont Cinema at the heart of North Finchley had sat empty for 9 years and was ripe for development. Through the engagement of a private developer the site includes 122 apartments, a gym, supermarket and retail units, that enabled the borough to gain a £15Million arts centre and Bus Terminal in return for a £2.5Million land purchase and planning approval. artsdepot is the only multi-space arts venue in Barnet – London’s most populous borough with 10% more residents than the country of Iceland.
Can you tell us a little more about artsdepot, and why people should plan a visit?
artsdepot is a vibrant cultural hub in North London. Our venue has two theatres and a variety of studios. We programme work across theatre, comedy, music, circus, dance and family work as well as hosting a range of festivals, classes and events throughout the year. There’s something for everyone at artsdepot from early years through to our over 60s programmes. We aim to find a way to engage everyone with their creativity and experience something new.
This year’s Festival theme ‘Drawn to Life’ aims to shine a light on the pivotal role that creativity can play in our health and wellbeing. How is this theme important for you and in the work that you do at artsdepot?
'Drawn To Life' underpins a lot of our work at artsdepot. We believe that participating in creative projects, and seeing your own creativity yield results is one of the most direct ways to build confidence and resilience – two key pillars of health and wellbeing. This belief fosters a large part of our diverse programme, which is built to give a wide range of people access to a large scope of creative interaction.
We like to be creative with it ourselves. Recently we ran a project using video gaming designed to address isolation, depression and lack of self-esteem in children and young people. This might not appear like an obvious link, but we had some fantastic results. It’s just an example of how being playful and re-thinking the classic concept of “creativity” can give you the confidence boost you need.
How do you think you might incorporate ‘Drawn to Life’ into your Big Draw events this year?
Our programme this year is all about connecting your fantasy to real life. Too often one hears ‘No!’ or ‘You can’t do that’, and it has a detrimental effect on your wellbeing. There are no limits to what you can draw and make. Create and animate a Viking! Design a crazy invention! Meet an owl! Why not?!
What inspires artsdepot to take part in The Big Draw Festival?
artsdepot loves to produce exciting events for families and our local community across a wide range of artforms. The Big Draw gives us an opportunity to embrace visual arts and be creative in introducing people of all ages to drawing. We try to find unusual ways to explore the theme each year and to experience drawing in a way that you might not have before.
Finally, could you tell us a little more about what’s in store for this year’s Big Draw Festival at artsdepot? Have you got some exciting ideas up your sleeve?
We’re particularly excited to have Wild Life Drawing back, so we can get a close-up of owls and birds of prey. Another highlight will be Easel Peasel, an interactive promenade drawing show that will unleash your inner Picasso. We’ve got illustrators and animators joining us, showing us how there’s absolutely no limit to what you can create. And of course, we’re bringing back the giant doodle pad. Our large theatre turns into one big drawing space, it’s the biggest blank page waiting for you (and there are lots of pencils to fill it with) that you can imagine.
Thank you Katie and the team at artsdepot!
artsdepot is one of our Big Draw Festival 2019 Sponsor Partners.
Have you been inspired by Katie's interview and The Big Draw Festival 2019 theme: #DrawntoLife? Why not join our global Festival in 2019? Registration is now open! Find out more about the benefits of becoming an organiser here and other ways to support The Big Draw's mission here.