81 Acts launches Brixton Uprising cultural programme

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81 Acts of Exuberant Defiance, set up to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Brixton Uprising of 1981 with a community-led cultural programme, today (10 April) announced its plans for the year to come. 

Six themes: Respect, Reform, Revolution, Regroup and Renew, Resist and Insight/Incite, will be on show in Brixton. 

April will see a combination of Covid-secure public installations and “community activation kits” sent to local residents’ homes.

81 Acts has partnered with Brixton-based and national cultural and civic organisations, including The Brixton Project

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It said today’s launch “catalyses a year-long programme manifesting three years of community visioning forged through a radically inclusive methodology that is accessible, self-organising, and steered by the Black communities it upholds.”

Artists Chloe Osborne and Tony Cealy initiated 81 Acts. They began with community consultation, hosting of “ideas feasts”.

81 Acts said relationships were built across Brixton’s cultural and civic sectors, “connecting pivotal organisations with the infrastructure, skills and resources needed to ensure quality and impact”.

Over this weekend’s launch 34,000 activation packs will be dropped to homes across Brixton.

They contain postcards with information on the uprisings of ’81 as well as calls to action. 

Digital versions of the packs will also be available online.

Residents of Brixton are urged to take action from their own homes through activities that include visiting the Mending Room, listening to an Uprising playlist, and taking part in Lambeth Libraries’ 2021 Black Writers’ Challenge.

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The Atlantic Billboard

A giant “Atlantic Billboard”, at the crossroads of Atlantic, Railton and Coldharbour, will screen content inspired by the experiences of the 81 community

Working with local young people, video and projection designers Mesmer have developed a five-minute programme that will be shown from 8pm to 12am each night over the anniversary weekend.

It contains sections which travel back and forth in time – from the present day, the 80s, the 50s and the 17th century – giving insights into important moments in Black British history.

Mesmer’s Dick Straker worked with young designers and researchers Renzo Allen, Seonaid Gowdie, Jonathan Gowdie and Nile Thomas.

Sounds of Resistance is a collaborative artwork that will be created by the people of Brixton and the sound artist Felix Taylor.

Using a WhatsApp number at three locations – International House, Somerleyton Passage and Brixton Station Passageway – and activated by designer Sam Alebioshu, people can leave voice notes and messages responding to three site-specific “provocations”. 

The recordings will be used to create a sound work telling the story of Brixton across time and space that will be streamed digitally, played on local radio, stored in local archives and, possibly, become a permanent installation.

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Afro Supa Hero stencil

Over the weekend spray painted outlines of Jon Daniel’s Afro Supa Heroes will appear on the pavement along Railton Road’s Frontline.

By following them, people will walk the Frontline in commemoration of the April 1981 Uprising, which was centred there. 

A stencil for the Afro Supa Hero on the 81 Acts website will enable people to add their own Supa Heroes to the street – creating the trail along the Frontline themselves.

Some 500 window stickers will be displayed by Black-led Brixton businesses to celebrate the contribution they have made to Brixton and putting the message of ’81 in a current context.

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