Windrush Festival 2019: The Highlights

In June 2019, the Bernie Grant Arts Centre held the Windrush Festival – our first ever festival highlighting the vital contribution the Windrush Generation and their descendants have made to the cultural landscape of the UK.

Windrush Festival was a two-week long programme of artistic activity with a packed calendar of performance, literature, music, cinema, workshops, talks, debates and much more. The BGAC Windrush Festival was a unique moment of reflection and celebration, read on to find out more about all the events that’s took place.

Film: Pool of London
Released three years after Windrush arrived in Tilbury Docks, film legend Earl Cameron broke through the colour bar landing a lead role in the gritty melodrama heist movie Pool of London.

David Lammy…’In Conversation with Dotun Adebayo’
David Lammy MP spoke movingly about racism, the Windrush Scandal, absent fathers and his life in politics.

Women of the Windrush: Memories in Mind
Composer Shirley J Thompson and guests including Queen of Lover’s Rock Carroll Thompson and poet Zena Edwards, brought the Windrush experience to life – with stunning original vocals, instrumental music, spoken word and film.

Film: Rudeboy: The Story of Trojan Records
Combining dramatisation of key moments in Reggae history, fresh interviews and archive footage, the full story of the iconic record label is revealed.

Reggaeoke brought their unique mix of Reggae, Bashment, Dancehall and Soca Karaoke with a live band to north London for the first time ever.

Women of the Windrush: New Daughters of Africa
We held an evening of literature, poetry and prose readings with Zadie Smith Candice Carty-Williams Margaret Busby, Andrea Stuart and Adeola Solenke to celebrate New Daughters of Africa – Margaret Busby’s major new global anthology of writing by over 200 women of African descent.

Windrush Day
We celebrated Windrush Day with a packed programme of free music, dance, talks, and workshops:

  • Bernie’s Book Club: The Lonely Londoners
    BGAC hosted a special edition of Bernie’s Book Club: this was an in depth and lively discussion of The Lonely Londoners, by Trinidadian author Samuel Selvon and was hosted by Tricia Wombell, founder of Black Book Swap.
  • Island Girls Rock! Workshop: Letter to Self
    Artist and educator Linett Kamala’s workshop focused on the intergenerational trauma carried by migration and using the ‘love letter to self’ and art form of calligrafitti as a way to harness compassion and tenderness for self.
  • Island Girls Rock! Workshop: I See You
    Participants shared stories, took portraits and connected with other members of the community through photography.
  • Talk: Why a hostile environment affects us all
    We held a discussion with panellists including Amelia Gentleman, the Guardian journalist who broke the Windrush scandal story, this was in partnership with Migrants Organise.
  • Namron dance workshop
    Trailblazing dancer and teacher Namron delivered a free workshop ‘Coming to England’, telling his experience as a 13-year-old arriving in 1959 by plane from Jamaica.
  • Solana & Gabriel
    Solana & Gabriel sung a selection of Jazz, Soul and Reggae covers and a couple of originals.
  • Steppaz performance
    Tottenham’s very own award-winning street dance troupe Steppaz put on a special Windrush Day performance.
  • Arts Bridge presents Windrush Stories
    Created by elder community members sharing their stories with local children, the performance explored and commemorated the dreams, resilience and legacy of the Windrush Generation.
  • Children’s activities
    As part of our free Windrush Day programming, the Bernie Grant Arts Centre also put on face painting, arts and crafts, hula hoops and hopscotch to keep children entertained and provided market stalls for local businesses Island Girls Rock! and Book Love. Our very own cafe Blooming Scent served up Caribbean food throughout the day.

National Theatre Live presents: Small Island
Captured live on stage at the National Theatre, Small Island screened here in the Bernie Grant Arts Centre theatre to a packed out theatre audience.