Help Pearl return to Brixton with a donation

Pearl Alcock. Picture: Brixton Society

Volunteers working to recreate a public platform and cultural hub in Brixton for London’s Black Queer communities have made an urgent appeal for donations to help them complete their project – Pearl’s Return.

Until the Brixton uprising 40 years ago, artist Pearl Alcock ran a shebeen at 103 Railton Road used by Black gay men.

It was one of several local unregulated places of entertainment that did not survive the riots and their aftermath.

Now Blackout UK, a not-for-profit social enterprise run and owned by a volunteer collective of Black gay men, is working to reclaim a Black queer space for Brixton.

It would “create room for inter-generational dialogue and ensure that there is space for seldom-heard Black queer voices,” says Blackout UK’s Rob Berkeley.

The scheme is part of the arts programme based around the Uprising – 81 Acts of Exuberant Defiance.

Rob says the aim is to “create a legacy – a regular LGBTQ led space, celebrating arts, culture and our heritage.”

Also planned are music performances, a vogue ballroom, and a party for the late Godfather of House, on Frankie Knuckles Day in August.

bring back my pearls 7days from BLKOUTUK_ on Vimeo.

An exhibition of Pearl Alcock’s lesser known works would bring many that have been hidden in private collections “back home to Brixton as early as one day after lockdown ends and for the next year.”

However, says Rob, “None of this can happen unless we raise another £2,500 by next Tuesday (11 May) through our Spacehive crowdfunder.”

Pearl’s Return, an innovative approach to public spaces led by marginalised communities, says it will “create a public platform and cultural hub for London’s Black Queer communities, and enable accessible, shared cultural moments among a group at high risk of isolation.”

It would also connect Black LGBTQ+ people to relevant public health, heritage or community initiatives, and generate opportunities for inter-generational arts and digital media collaboration among Black queer creatives.

In the plans are:

  • A programme of live music, theatre and arts, celebrating Black Queer Britons
  • A destination, meanwhile-use, event space reimagining local Black Queer heritage
  • Striking new content for social media and digital sharing that connects across social barriers

Pearl’s Return says it will create a replicable, physical space that represents the culmination of a three-year programme of appreciative inquiry, research, and co-creation. 

A festival “will be an opportunity for Black Queer Men to shape Blackout UK movement, their interaction driving a new kind of civil society movement.

“In anticipation of the challenges of the social reset required to thrive in our ‘new normal’, we are radically rethinking pre-2020 ways of organising society that systematically failed Black Queer Men and so many others.”

Works by Pearl Alcock

Spacehive crowdfunder page