GUEST POST: Poeticat’s resident night at The Windmill wins Arts Council funding

Poeticat has just received funding for their new resident night at The Windmill – the first is on  June 23. Catherine Martindale tells us more about Poeticat’s history and the difficulties of being an artist in Britain today.

Poeticat rehearsing at home. Photo by Catherine Martindale.
Poeticat rehearsing at home. Photo by Catherine Martindale.

I am extremely pleased to announce that Poeticat’s bi-monthly residency at The Windmill, Brixton will be supported using public funding from the National Lottery through Arts Council England. This is the first time Poeticat has been granted arts funding. We formed in 2009 and we have been playing nationally since, only just managing to cover our costs and all with part-time jobs and frugal lifestyles.

It may sound like a cliché but I believe it’s a particularly hard time to be living as an artist in London. My mum describes her musician friends living in squats and on the dole in the ‘60s, ‘70s and even ‘80s. Many of the UK’s greatest artistic exports survived because of living rent-free. A handful of examples include Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits), ex-Eurythmics man Dave Stewart and Joe Strummer, not to mention the more famous squatters Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious. More recently, KT Tunstall admitted she was on the dole for 9 years before achieving any success.

With the Tory cuts and the criminalisation of squatting, when and where does a musician in London make music today? Exhausted and very softly, on their acoustic guitar, in their tiny flat, from 7-9 in the evening, once they’ve finished their working day, but before the neighbours children are in bed?

Poeticat have been lucky enough to live in shared houses with housemates who don’t mind us banging our feet and Cajon all the time. We lived in a semi-detached in Streatham for years. Once, we arrived at the Dartford Crossing on our way to a festival and could only scrape together enough loose change to pay £1.38 of the £2 required. In the end, we had to sing to the man in the toll-booth to stop him calling the police!

This arts funding recognises that Poeticat are making innovative live literature and music, which is important to England. The best thing about this funding is that it supports a local project for local people. We are putting on bi-monthly poetry and music events in Brixton, with specifically local marketing. It’s also great to have financial backing without selling our music to adverts for fabric conditioner.

Our first residency date is June 23rd. So far I can tell you there will be a barbecue, a poet, two bands and Poeticat. Plus you can have a good old reminisce with some old children’s books from the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s for National Bookstart Week. We will be making an art piece out of your favourite children’s book titles, so send them through to our Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #PoeticatRes.

We’d love to hear from other local poets, artists and bands who want to get involved too.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us and thanks to the Arts Council for making it possible for Brixton musicians and poets to keep creating.



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