Undercroft is a new space on Sceaux Gardens Estate gifted from Southwark Council to be managed by Theatre Peckham, next door to the existing Artblock space managed by South London Gallery. Under the creative direction from Theatre Peckham’s Associate Director, the long-term aim is to establish the venue as a versatile home for creators, makers, movers and shakers primarily based in South East London to flesh out ideas, network and collaborate in the community; pick up new skills, present work and develop their craft. 

Undercroft will be a hub that cultivates and champions new work, driven to creatively engage and serve the hyperlocal community – one where over a fifth (22%) of employees in the borough were paid below the London Living Wage, while almost 50% of working adults lack Level 2 or Level 3 qualifications. The Arts Council England-funded pilot programme will explore how best this new space can serve residents on the Sceaux Gardens, Pelican and Southampton Way estates while supporting the creation of meaningful artistic projects and the delivery of free or pay-what-you-can activity that upskills participants in both creative and life skills. 

The project will be supported by the wider Theatre Peckham team, as well as two young people between the ages of 18-24 who were not in full-time education, employment or training. During the course of a 10-week internship paid at London Living Wage, they will work with the Associate Director and the Artists-in-Residence to gain hands-on experience in practicing community-based creative research, workshop facilitation, artist liaising and project coordination. 

The pilot will also see the Artists-in-Residence curate a programme of workshops and masterclasses sharing tangible life skills and artform-specific knowledge with artists and residents in the local area.  It is planned for Theatre Peckham to support the local Tenants & Residents Association on planning a community Fun Day.

Research that collates the learnings from this approach of community-based arts practice will be available upon completion of the project. The Undercroft pilot programme is funded by Arts Council England.