Potent Whisper tells us why he launched multi-arts campaign ‘Our Brixton‘ to discuss and respond to gentrification in Brixton.
Brixton is changing. Fast. Social housing is being demolished and hundreds of families are being made homeless to make room for unaffordable “affordable” private property developments. Huge numbers of traders and businesses are being evicted. Rent prices in the area have tripled. Change is the basis of all history, but when a community is represented by individuals who place personal profit before the welfare of their people, when they steal and then sell our homes/ businesses to the highest bidders, when an area is colonized and the very people who built Brixton are outcast, we find ourselves asking if this is the type of change we want.
My name is Georgie, also known as rapper and playwright Potent Whisper. I, like many of you, have become increasingly concerned for the future of Brixton and the welfare of those whom it houses. Earlier this year, I decided to launch a multi-arts community campaign ‘Our Brixton’ that aims to use art to discuss, and respond to, the fast changing face of Brixton. Historically, art has proven time and time again to be an incredibly powerful tool with which to create societal change and it has played a huge role in many resistances and revolutions, globally. In fact, it was the potential that I saw in art to make a change to the world that had initially inspired me to dedicate my life to it and adopt it as my language and weapon.
In addition to highlighting/ responding to the rapid gentrification of Brixton using art, we are extremely interested in exploring art within the context of activism. On April 4, artists and community members headed to Foxtons estate agents with sleeping bags, bed sheets and pillows to stage a lie-in. The idea was to highlight the displacement and homelessness that comes from the ongoing evictions and soaring rent prices in the area. It was an empowering day for everyone involved, including residents from Cressingham Gardens, Guinness Trust and traders from the arches.
Being an arts workshop facilitator, I often ask participants what their definition of an artist is. Of course I receive thousands of varying answers and rarely does anyone ever agree on a definition. However, the two most common answers I receive are “someone who tells a story” and “someone who creates”. Art is a vehicle for truth and allows us to bring ears to the unheard stories that are ever suffocated by the heavy cloud of bias that is the mainstream media. Art is free and without strings, it is the people’s media. Then, I find myself reflecting on the second response “someone who creates”. I make a conscious decision to recognize the power that I hold as an artist, I ask myself what I could and should create and I always come to the same collusion; that I need to create the world that I want to see. This is the purpose of the Our Brixton campaign.
I will leave you with news that Our Brixton will soon be delivering free arts workshops for young people in Brixton. The workshops will run throughout May and will be held at the Rotunda hall at Cressingham Gardens. For more information, please contact us on Twitter @OurBrixton or email OurBrixton@gmail.com
Potent Whisper and Lara Lee have just released a music video called ‘Brixton First’. You can view it here.