Chineke! The UK’s first all-black classical music ensemble, alongside National Youth Jazz Orchestra and Punchdrunk theatre who have notoriety for their cutting edge theatre, as well as the Woolwich Contemporary Print Fair are set to breathe new life into one of London’s most historic districts; Woolwich, an old part of London’s industrial heartland is set to get a new life this September; its Royal Arsenal area was synonymous in the past with guns, empire, and industrialism but has been undergoing a transformation into a new cultural district with the opening of a new arts centre called Woolwich Works. The project is underwritten by the area’s council, The London Borough of Greenwich, which in 2012 become a Royal Borough, in honour of its equestrian contributions. The borough has a long history, being one of the places from which England consolidated its role as a naval power, as well as the birth place of arguably, its most noted ruler, Elizabeth the first, under whose rule much of the imperial outlook of Britain started to take shape; Woolwich, a part of the larger borough of Greenwich has a distinct history from the larger borough shaped largely by its role as one of the key royal armouries. Today, the area is home to a large and diverse community of Africans, indigenous English, as well as eastern Europeans, and in recent years has witnessed development of plush housing blocks and commercial outlets catering to residents who work in Canary Wharf, the financial district located a few miles from Woolwich. It already had an artistic identity, albeit low-key, with Tramshed theatre which caters to young audiences and the Greenwich Docklands International Festival which has just concluded its 26th year, with a robust programme that marks a return from the cautious programming in 2020 around the Covid-19 pandemic. The culture centre which will open in late September no doubt hopes to draw in these audiences and many more looking to shake off the pandemic blues with a bang.
Woolwich Works is scheduled to open on the 23rd September 2021.