Who We Are

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We use interactive, immersive techniques to create cheap, participatory work that happens off stage and up close in estate community spaces and parks. Our performances in our base on the modernist estate of Kensal House in West London, and our heritage youth projects, youth shows, and youth films have won awards and press attention nationally. They are recognised for the do-it-yourself-passion which informs their creative ambition, up-to-date subject matter, distinctive form, and the fresh voices of the people at their heart.   We are also committed to the restoring and improving the important communal spaces and buildings where estate life takes place.

We celebrate the true diversity embodied by social housings’ architecture, the way it unites people of every different age, class and race. Our work focuses on all we have in common; the spaces we share, the heritage that belongs to all of us, and the youth of tomorrow, for whom we are all responsible.

 

Our free sessions are targeted at and prioritise North Kensington estate residents. If we’ve space we let others get involved. We work with National partners on projects like our UK estate tours, which advocate and celebrate social housing.

FAQs:

Who is SPID?
A registered charity specialising in high quality community theatre on council estates, whose remit is to advance education by the promotion of the arts, citizenship and community development. We are not for profit which and have no shareholders. About half of our staff and participants are local, but we also have a National profile in terms of touring UK estates, getting estate residents on the news and securing rave reviews in papers like the Guardian. Both locally and Nationally, we advocate social housing.

How is SPID funded?
 
We multifund all our work in order to keep autonomy and have funding from trusts, the lottery, the government and donations.  The funding we’ve secured for the refurb was only possible because we’re a charity and would not have been available to other organisations like residents’ associations. It was granted on the basis of our strong track record working on and with north Kensington estates since 2005. Our running costs and turnover are low – we try to pay £12 an hour but often work as volunteers/ for minimum wage.

Does anyone from Kensal come to SPID?
Yes all our free activities (Far Far Away, Living History, Space Share, Community Hub ) have had and continue to have Kensal participants. Some activities have been and are currently run by them too and we fundraise in order to pay for this community work. Many of our members are also residents.

How do payments work?
We are committed to paying local residents and expert specialists. Some of these people are trustees because lived experience matters to our board.  Trustees can not be paid for board duties and we do not do this as it would be a conflict of interest but we can and do pay them for their community work. This is in line with the charity’s commission and our constitution.

Why does SPID have a lease?
SPID first asked for a lease from the council (who are the community rooms’ freeholders) when the TMO tried to take over and run the community rooms for profit – at which time we also registered the space as a community asset to stop it being sold off. In fact we’ve been trying to restore the space since 2005 and have invested around £80 000 in things like central heating and equipment to bring the flooded, neglected, mouldy rooms back into use- but without a long term lease, were not eligible for bigger funding. We finally secured a long term lease when we proved that in return we would bring in more than £1m funding to refurbish the community rooms.

We are:

Helena Thompson, Artistic Director

Helena’s ‘Open House’ play, won The List’s Edinburgh Festival Highlight Award and Time Out Critic’s Choice. For SPID she has also written Bluebeard’s Wives (ICA), The Garden (site specific/ Riverside Studios), Sixteen (site specific/ The Gate). She co created Childsplay (site specific/Riverside Studios) with Rachel Grunwald. Her feature films Affected and Happyslap, shot on Kensal House estate, have featured on BBC London and been screened by Channel 4 and in Hollywood. She was on the National Theatre’s attachment scheme. Her play ‘The Burning Times’ was commissioned by Radio 4.

Rachel Grunwald, Associate Director

Rachel has directed extensively for SPID, and together with Helena has forged the ‘wraparound’ style of theatre which is now SPID’s trademark. Her interest is in collapsing the distance between actor and audience, starting from the one element which is indisputably shared between both groups: the space. For SPID she has directed ‘Bluebeard’s Wives’, ‘Open House’, ‘Kensal Youth’,‘Superhuman’ and ‘Childsplay’. She has also helped develop shows and programmes, taught classes, mentored other company members and fundraised. Rachel trained at RADA and the National Theatre Studio, has worked throughout the industry including with the Royal Shakespeare Company and for the Tricycle Theatre on the Oliver Award-nominated production, ‘The Great Game Afghanistan’, and has won ‘Time Out Hit of the Year on the Fringe’ for her production of ‘Pins and Needles’. She is a Fellow of the Clore Leadership Programme (2013-2015).  You can visit her website here

Nnenna Samson-Abosi, Head of Youth Programmes and Outreach

Nnenna has worked with young people at SPID to write and directed 23176,  Passersby and Team Spirit. She also directed  Face by Benjamin Zephaniah. Nnenna has been assistant director for SPID’s Kensal Youth, Superhuman, The Garden and Remember the Name. Nnenna oversees SPID’s program of youth theatre workshops. She works as a freelance director and workshop leader and has work credits with the National Youth Theatre and Talawa Theatre. Nnenna is passionate about  community theatre making.

Our Trustees:

Paul Gardner
Paul has worked for various councils and trusts overseeing capital refurb projects.  He secured a Clore Fellowship to develop his expertise in advising on listed buildings. He first encountered the company when his estate’s resident’s association got involved in advising on SPID’s Activity Hub program.

Anita Williams
Anita is chair of the residents association at Kensal House. She configured the RA after Grenfell and co ordinates with other RAs to maximise resident engagement. Her children attend SPID’s free youth drama classes. She joined the board five years ago and wrote letters of support to help us get our lease.

Dean Stigwood
Head of development and fundraising for Arvon charity, Dean oversaw a £5m fundraising campaign for The Tricycle theatre.

Eva Branscome
An architectural historian and writer focussing on modern architecture, Eva teaches at University College London.

Katie Elston
Marketing and Communications Manager at the Royal Albert Hall, Katie manages a team covering all external communications and has also worked for BAC Theatre during their refurb and at theRoundhouse.

Peter Thompson QC, Chair
A lawyer and legal author , Peter is a QC who runs a free legal advice centre helping people fight debt and eviction.

Naomi Israel
Naomi lives in West London social housing and has spoken out with SPID on National television about our play The Burning Tower’s mission to make good come from Grenfell.

Tanja Pagnco, Treasurer
A freelance producer, Tanja has handled budgets of up to £3m for arts and heritage projects through out London.

Mariana Sastre
Mariana is a Program Producer for the Roundhouse. She and Nnenna founded SPID’s original flagship Living History project, Kensal Voices.

Lecia Laidlaw
A young person who has lived in West London social housing all her life, Lecia advocates for locally for SPID and encourages young people to get involved.

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