Southbank Centre’s
Festival Of Neighbourhood

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Southbank Centre, the UK’s largest arts centre, on the bank of the River Thames, has been transformed for its summer-long Festival of Neighbourhood. The Festival celebrates communities and explores the concept of what makes a good neighbourhood and what it means to live side by side.

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Local communities from across the UK and abroad are participating in creating the festival – from Lambeth, Brixton, Vauxhall and Deptford in South London, to artists and young people from Pelourinho in Salvador, Brazil.

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Across Southbank Centre’s 21-acre site, there’s a wide-ranging programme of themed weekends, performances, talks, community activity, outdoor art installations and urban greenery.

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Upside down rhubarb grows in the allotment

Jude Kelly, Artistic Director, Southbank Centre, said: “Festival of Neighbourhood is a space for the community, as we ask what it means to live harmoniously, particularly with people that differ from ourselves. Community cohesion is one of the major challenges we face today and this festival will explore how we can support community endeavours and create a much better sense of belonging and stronger cooperation with our neighbours.”

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Greenhouses created from reclaimed wood and windows

Festival installations include nine large allotments along the riverside, created from reclaimed wood and windows in collaboration with London-based landscape practice Wayward Plants, which provides opportunities for volunteers and communities to be involved in building and tending to plants.

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The roof garden

The Queen Elizabeth Hall Roof Garden, created in partnership with the Eden Project and cared for by Providence Row, has been expanded to include a forest glade garden.

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Octavia’s Orchard

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There are also 35 fruit trees, installed in galvanised steel bins, created by What If: Projects, in collaboration with the National Trust; a wheelbarrow installation of mini gardens by The Edible Bus Stop; and a herb greenhouse, with its produce being used by the Royal Festival Hall’s cafe, which is run by Company of Cooks.

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The herb greenhouse

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On the roofs of the buildings are a series of flags, created by artist Bob and Roberta Smith, that help us to think about neighbourhood and what it means to us. The questions they ask embody the spirit of the festival.

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Bob and Roberta Smith’s flags over the roof garden

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Each question takes us to a different part of our imagination and helps us to explore the ideas at the heart of the festival. On the Festival’s finale weekend thousands of people will be invited to collectively sing a response to the flags, to ring out the summer.

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Celebrating the 75th birthday of The Beano, Festival Village is transformed into Beanotown – an iconic imaginary neighbourhood – in a collaboration with The Beano publisher DC Thomson and Hemingway Design.

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The fictional home town of Dennis the Menace will feature a museum showcasing The Beano‟s archive for the very first time, including previously untold stories dating back to wartime Britain.

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Neighbourly pop-ups will include a fruit and vegetable stall by The Cherry Berry Co, Luke’s, a traditional pie shop brought to Southbank Centre by Hartland Pies and designed by RIBA students, and the community-based cycling cafe Look Mum No Hands! – in addition to the weekly Real Food markets.

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And there’s more… take a look at Southbank Centre’s website for the full programme and an easy to navigate map.