New Local Arts Project In Manor Park

A local community-based project has been bubbling away for just under a year in the heart of Lewisham. Nestled in the centre of Manor Park, (not to be confused with Manor House Gardens, in Lee) Arts Cafe is an exciting project that provides an outlet for local artists to express their work through workshops, performances and much more. We went to check out this innovative new project and find out more about it...

Starting out in May 2015, Arts Cafe is the brainchild of local artists Fred and Banu Schmid. As working artists themselves, they desired to create an open, inclusive, and community-based platform that would allow people to express their skills through various mediums, be that workshops, classes, performances or anything else. They are a not-for-profit company and run their various events and projects either through donations, contributions from other local schemes, or for free. Speaking with Fred and Banu, they assured me that any money collected from an event was given back to the artists involved and they did not take cuts themselves, highlighting the sole focus of this project - supporting artists within the local community. They serve coffee, tea, and various cakes at the front of the building to help sustain themselves and keep busy during the days they don’t have events on (rarely!)

Arts Cafe Lewisham Card

Working out of an old, previously unused building in the centre of Manor Park, the location is perfect for what they are doing. The space is big enough to have a full band playing or a yoga class held, and as it sits plum in the middle of the park, it attracts the attention of anyone walking through. Passers by can casually drop by for a quick coffee; or alternatively get engrossed by the alluring sounds of a live jazz band they might have playing. Children can play with the impressive range of toys and outdoor equipment, which include a Spiderman mannequin, a miniature sand-pit, and a trampoline just to name a few; so the environment is relaxed, yet creative and inspiring.

Arts Cafe Lewisham Card
Arts Cafe Lewisham Card

It only takes a brief look at their website to see the eclectic mix of events and projects they have already put on and are planning to host in the future. Yoga classes, Watercolour workshops, improvised jazz sessions, as well as further afield things such as a chess club, and even Boxing! As I stand chatting to Fred and Banu, he tells me that the sole focus is not primarily on ‘Art’ but on everything that involves a skill or can be taught in a casual, workshop-style environment to people of all ages and abilities. He points behind me to a miniature house made out of plastic bottles. This was an upcycling project involving the local Brownies from the 1st Lee South, and the Cub Scouts from the 25th Lewisham North. He mentions how they are soon hosting a ‘river dip’ event with a local group, which will undoubtedly involve wellies, sticks, and a lot of splashing about in the Quaggy, which runs right through the park at the bottom. The list of events is growing rapidly and the variety ever-increasing…

Arts Cafe Lewisham Card
Arts Cafe Lewisham Card

An innovative and inspiring project, Arts Cafe is definitely worth checking out. Visit their website and work out which of their myriad events going on takes your fancy, or just pop by and chat with the lovely Fred and Banu about what they have planned. If you’re an Artist or a skilled person of any kind, get in contact. They are more than willing to help you plan an event, perform or host a class for your skill.


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