Earlier in the year, many local businesses were suffering due to gas works taking place on Rye Lane, leading to highly reduced footfall for six months. Southwark Council were offering compensation support to local businesses, so Holdrons Arcade resident Jess, from Childsdraw, applied for it.

With funding secured and venue support from Copeland Park, she joined forces with Elijah Maja to create Rye Links Festival; a high-spirited, day long community event in Copeland Gallery, September 21st 2019.

Rye Links was all about community, how did you come up with the idea?

At the beginning of the year, Rye Lane was closed for 6 months due to gas works which really affected local independent businesses. I then applied for funding from Southwark Council to put on a free community event to benefit local traders and designers in the area. As this was a community event, it was important to me that all pitches for traders were free and that all workshop leaders were paid accordingly. Peckham is undergoing a lot of changes in terms of gentrification, and a lot of events/venues are often not marketed to existing residents who are usually from minority and working class backgrounds. It was therefore really important for us to make the event appeal to these audiences.

Have you been wanting to do something like this for a while?

I’d wanted to put an event like this on for a while because I understand, as a small business owner, it’s important to try and promote independent businesses as much possible.

Who was involved and how did you bring all of these people together?

After I applied for funding, I was partnered with Elijah Maja, the founder of Future Together Lab – a creative consultancy who had put in a similar proposal which focused more on local DJ’s and food vendors. We decided to combine our ideas to create a community day festival which truly supported local traders and artists. We also had some support from the Copeland Park team who provided us with a venue.

Did you enjoy pulling an event together?

With a shop in Holdrons Arcade I was keen to involve as many other businesses from there as possible. We both knew workshop leaders from past projects and for many of the food vendors it was a case of walking around and asking people first hand if they wanted to be involved. This helped us make the event as inclusive as possible, as many small local businesses preferred this method of communication. Elijah, who grew up in the area, knew a lot of local DJ’s and artists who wanted to be involved on the day.

Childsdraw and Future Together Lab will be collaborating in the future on similar projects, and you can keep updated by following @ryelinksfestival