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Opening up creative opportunities in Southall with new community hub

Having successfully established OPEN Ealing, an independent arts organisation based in Ealing Broadway, Mandie Wilde is set to grow her  creative enterprise further by launching Open Southall in June.

The new community hub, based at Berkeley Group’s The Green Quarter, will be a home for creatives of all ages with a focus on making and selling of screen prints, ceramics, textiles and fashion and will be open seven days a week from early to late.

As well as a home for creatives, Open Southall will be used to stage events and showcase creativity.

In the run-up to its launch in June 2023, Open Southall is looking to raise £23,000 through a crowdfunding campaign to purchase equipment for people to use for their creative projects.

OPEN Ealing has been operating in Ealing for over a decade and EALING.NEWS spoke to Mandie White to find out more about its plans for Southall and what it has achieved.

How much are you looking to raise for Open Southall and what excites you about being in Southall?
We are looking to raise £23,076 which includes Spacehive fees. The money goes towards purchasing a kiln and wheels for the ceramic studio and sewing machines. The aim is to make it easier for the community to learn these crafts.

Southall is an incredibly exciting and vibrant location which has a strength in textiles and past links with ceramics (Martinware) so it seemed natural to jump at the chance of making our new creative hub there.

How many hours a day/week will Open Southall be open for?
Open Southall is open seven days a week with the cafe opening at 8am and most classes starting at 10am. We stop classes at 9pm during the week and 7pm at the weekend to make way for events, showcases and the like.

Following Ealing and Southall, are you planning more for our 5 other towns?
We are continually on the lookout for appropriate space and how we can usefully expand our creative programme without duplicating what is already on offer. However, it’s not expansion just for the sake of it, it’s also important to look at what’s on offer already in the area and what’s needed.

What are you most proud of with Open Ealing?
Each member of the OPEN Ealing team will have their own example, but I think we are all proud of the fact that we are still going! Personally I love the fact that we’ve been able to support so many creatives, particularly at the start of their career, and that we’ve collaborated with such a broad spectrum of groups and organisations from the Honey Brothers to Westside Youth Centre.

What have we achieved so far?
Gosh, over the years so much! At the outset we facilitated a young opera company creating a brand new opera; Artists’ Zoos in the pop up shop; a crammed year of over 40 performances, 400 workshops and numerous exhibitions in a 12 month period at the Green Man Lane cafe; collaborated with over 100 artists in the 9 month art gallery shop pop up in Oak Road facilitating the display and selling of their work and finally our hub in Dickens Yard operates at over 90% usage with just over 2000 regular users in a 12 month period and a further 4,000 visitors. We’ve collaborated with 100 local groups and organisations.

If people cannot support financially, how else can they support Open Southall?
Please show the campaign a lot of love by liking it on the page and spread the word about the campaign and the hub itself – we want to see as many people there as possible.

There’s also loads of ways to volunteer in helping us set up and bring the idea to life.

When will the first event happen for Open Southall?
Launch will be on Saturday 24 June 2023.

What excites you about being in the London Borough of Ealing?
It’s diversity, vibrancy. it’s an interesting place to live and work. It’s always been a creative borough but what I love is seeing the breadth of the current creative offer, age range and willingness to be all embracing.

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