As we raise a virtual toast to the launch of our new website, I wanted to raise another toast to the organisation that set me on my artistic path. Wac Arts are bloomin' amazing and deserve a bit of attention.
I started my training as a teenager with Wac Arts (formally WAC), attending every Sunday for four or five classes of exceptional training in the arts. I learnt Mime with Zena Dilke, Contemporary with both Nelson Fernandez and Nigel Charnock of DV8 (RIP), Matmatix Jazz with Michelle Stott and the incredible Diedra Lavelle and Drama with the founder of the whole egalitarian vision Celia Greenwood. I was lucky enough to be directed by Eugene Skeefe, Amani Naphtali and David Glass throughout my time with the youth theatre company Fusion.
Celia set up Wac Arts up in the 80’s because a friend of hers couldn't afford to get a professional dance training in London. The fire behind that first action has driven the last 35 years of success and struggle in the face of enormous cuts and mishandling of community funding.
The whole thing was about mixing it up. Mixing class, race and agenda; giving everyone an opportunity to learn and celebrate creativity. It taught commitment as the fundamental ethic of success. It was a three-strikes and you're out policy. Some amazing talents were born from that schooling; names who are sprinkled throughout the world of excellent arts practice, in film, music, community arts, dance and theatre.
Later Wac Arts supported the creation of my first company structure: Madrugada, through a development grant. I owe much of my attitude and ethical grounding to these formative years and this institution who now eventually have been able to secure some stability and are opening a free school named Wac Arts College for youth on the verge of exclusion believing that the arts can help to navigate these young peoples difficult pasts and the prejudice they have and still do experience within our culture.