Kicking Arts in East End London

Hoxton Press
1 year ago

We love the passion and drive of pioneering East End arts organisation #Artstickers. Founded by arts activist Angie Gough, its aim is to provide a platform and support to talented artists throughout East London.

Now in its second year, Angie who runs the organisation along with fellow arts advocate, Kay Richardson, has just launched this year’s awards for nominations.

What’s #Artskickers all about and how did it all begin?

The #Artskickers Awards uncovers, rewards and connects people who create pathways for disadvantaged communities into the arts world. We also create platforms for young emerging talent.

Kay and I are strong believers in the power of the arts to raise people up – whether it’s music, visual art, dance or theatre, expressing oneself in a creative way gives people confidence, builds self-esteem, promotes emotional wellbeing, fosters resilience and connects people with each other.

But despite all these positive benefits, the arts are increasingly sidelined, and this is stopping children (particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds) from enjoying a rounded education.

In 2016, I started a personal Arts Crusade, a mission to give myself and the kids I love a #KickUpTheArts. I took my kids out to galleries, we went to the ballet and absorbed the amazing cultural offerings of our great city.

We came across so many inspiring, passionate people who are working hard to bridge the gap in opportunity which has been caused by economic insecurity, and a depressing lack of arts education in our schools.

I call these people #Artskickers.

Why an Awards Ceremony?

I went to lots of awards ceremonies with one of my sisters and I have seen the power an award has to open the windows and doors of opportunity. My hope was that these awards would do that for some of the #Artskickers too – give them a good night out, make them feel appreciated, connect them with one another.  

I recruited a small team of volunteers, chose the six categories and started looking for people to help. It snowballed, our panel of judges was incredible – people like Renell, Lemn Sissay, Gavin Turk, Deborah Curtis, Zabou, Susie McKenna and John Mulholland signed up, and then came the sponsors, such as 10eleven Design and Together we brought it to life.

What started as a one-woman mission to say thanks to some good people turned into a full on glamorous event, with lashings of volunteer spirit, powerful speeches, iconic gongs, roof-lifting performance, all of which has had such a huge impact.

It was so impactful in fact, that I’ve teamed up with Kay to do it all again this year. This time, we’ve got plans to get an even bigger team of volunteers to help us get where we want to go. We’ve also got new sponsors like Anthology London, who know where we want to go and are helping us to get there.

What 5 words would you use to describe an #Artskicker?

Inspiring, dedicated, hard-working, passionate, #Artskicking.

Nominations have just opened for the awards (21 April), how can I submit an entry and who should be entering?

You can nominate yourself or someone you think deserves recognition, by filling out a simple nomination form online at

These awards are for anyone who’s encouraging others to do something arty, which includes music, dance, art and theatre. We want to promote all those unsung heroes who are bringing out the creativity in others. There are nine categories this year, covering everything from Community Superheroes to Social Media Superstars.

But it doesn’t have to be an arts professional. We want to hear about everyone who’s bringing the arts to their communities – big, small, business, charity, young, old - whoever’s inspiring you, we want to know!

Which artists/creatives (#Artskickers) have you been working with/showcasing?

Since last year’s awards, we’ve worked particularly close with the future artists who performed on the night. Working with our growing network and connecting them with established artists, together we’re giving them a leg up on their journey.

Future Artist winners TWIST Theatre Company spent a day at the National Theatre, receiving mentorship from their Artistic Director, Rufus Norris.

Judge Susie McKenna gave mentoring to the talented Nesah, who went on to win a Disney Scholarship. And whizzkid, Freya Hannan Mills has been working with us on a campaign asking celebs “who’s the #Artskicker in your life?”

We recently brought our little group together with a new crop of future artists from across East London to create the #Artskickers Urban Symphony. Eight young creatives worked with Renell Shaw and Gijs Kramers from Street Orchestra Live to create a new piece which we performed on a one-day East London tour. In total, we played at six different locations within the East End and were joined by #Artskickers who were local to each location.

We all went on an incredible journey (in more ways than one) and the group will come back together to perform at this year’s awards. How they use these opportunities is up to them, they’ve got the talent and our support hopefully makes a difference!

No successful artist, whatever the discipline, achieves success alone. There are always #Artskickers in their lives who’ve helped them get to where they are. We’re slowly but surely shining the light on the importance of those people. These superheroes in the shadows who deserve a great big thank you.

What are your future ambitions for Artskickers?

Our vision is to create a powerful network of #Artskickers across East London and beyond. We’re partnering with local councils and arts organisations to consolidate our reputation in East London before branching out.

Last year, we unearthed 256 nominees, all of whom are creating pathways into the arts in their communities. This year, we aim to find more and shine a light on their work.

Our focus this year are the boroughs of Barking & Dagenham, Hackney, Haringey, Newham, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest, which consistently rank as having some of the highest levels of deprivation in the UK. We know these areas well and feel we can have a massive positive impact on people’s lives.

In terms of how we do it, we’re inspired by #Artskickers’ Patron Lemn Sissay’s “Christmas Dinners” project. It began in Manchester and now provides Christmas Dinners in nine locations across the UK. If we build the model and make it successful in London, there’s no reason why we can’t reproduce it in other locations.

There are #Artskickers everywhere. And we want to find them.

What do you love most about living/working in East London?

Diversity. The mash up of cultures in East London results in such a rich, vibrant community. It’s so stimulating and creative.

There are so many distinct communities within East London, but everyone is connected to each other. Like it or not, everyone faces the same challenges together.

Any top recommendations we should be hitting up in the area?

Climpsons , e5 Bakehouse, Lardo – our list of sponsors is like a roll call of all my favourite places to eat in Hackney! But we’ve come across some gems in Walthamstow – XX and The Green Rooms Hotel in Wood Green is a wonder.

In Hackney, the Dalston Curve Garden holds a special place in my heart. I remember it when it was just a piece of neglected earth and now it’s a lush haven of London life.

And for something a bit off the radar, but quite possibly my favourite place ever, it’s got to be New North Press in Hoxton. It is the most magical place, a letterpress studio with more drawers of type than anywhere in the UK.

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If you are looking to settle in an area offering the diversity that inspires #ArtsKickers then Anthology is creating its Hoxton Press development in Hackney with apartments and penthouses available.

For more information about Artskickers and the awards, visit: