Brixton Inclusive – a cultural arts youth charity.

Children during a djembe drumming class
Children during a djembe drumming class

As a writer, director and an enthusiast for culture, Amani Naphtali set up Brixton Inclusive in 2004. It is a growing community arts charity that runs workshops for disabled and disadvantaged youth, usually from minority backgrounds.

‘Our aim is to get young people participating,’ he explains to me. ‘We want to give them a way to express themselves through art forms.’

The charity came about because he believed that the young needed a training academy for cultural arts. When Amani talks, he is keen to differentiate cultural art forms from what he calls more mainstream art activities.

‘The latter,’ he feels, ‘often exclude more cultural art forms such as those that Brixton Inclusive are offering.’

He led me, trademark wooden staff in hand, into a busy class of children and teenagers. They were in the midst of a djembe drumming class. The class is run by one of the UK’s most respected African Arts practitioners, the charismatic Angie Amra Anderson. From Peter Gabriel to Fela Kuti, Angie has worked with some big names.

Amani has been keen to offer those attending workshops access to the best training and Angie is testament to this claim. Other programmed activities include singing classes and African dance (cultural as well as urban street dance). Perhaps naturally, the most popular are hip hop and krump (the increasingly prevalent, hypnotically jerky hip hop spin-off).

For the dance classes, Theo Godson is the draw. He has worked alongside acts like Tinie Tempah, Plan B and Ms Dynamite, as well as receiving three gold stars on Sky 1’s Got to Dance.

So, all in all, Brixton Inclusive provides some highly respected role models.

The one thing the parents and young people ask, however, is “are you staying?” They want commitment you see, explains Amani. But, the proven longevity of his project should put those concerns to rest.

Amani Naphtali, founder of Brixton Inclusive
Amani Naphtali, founder of Brixton Inclusive

Amani’s own curriculum is impressive too. Perhaps his best-known work is Ragamuffin – a play that he wrote and produced in the eighties, which showed throughout the UK. As a dramatist himself, he has lofty ambitions for Brixton Inclusive’s theatre and hopes to take productions outside sometime soon.

Amani is keen to point out that if people have ideas, things they want to learn, then they should ask. Brixton Inclusive will try to accommodate it. After all, isn’t that what inclusive means?

He refers to Brixton as the West End of the South. ‘It’s where people come to do and learn things,’ he adds.

He touches on the change that is sweeping through the area. ‘Brixton needed some change,’ he asserts, ‘and I encourage people to take hold of it’ He pauses for a second. ‘But it needs to be engaging across all parts of the community.’

It is this concern for social inclusion that lies at the core of the charity.

‘If the indigenous people of an area feel disenfranchised then it cannot lead to positive engagement,’ Amani continued. ‘See the thing is, if we don’t engage the youth then they will engage us. And they may do this in ways that we don’t want.’ His wisdom seems equally pertinent and prophetic.

‘Over and above the cultural arts,’ he concludes, ‘it is about promoting equality, respect for others and, of course, inclusion.’ I felt charmed by the values of Amani’s vision. What he has created feels cohesive and dependable – an opportunity that parents should not shy away from.

Workshops run every Saturday and children from a variety of social backgrounds attend, from Latin American and Caribbean through to European. The age range is 5 to 25. Find out more by contacting Brixton Inclusive on: or call 020 7274 7133.