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Croydon‘s young David Attenboroughs tackle climate change through art

Across four days, young people from Croydon will be hosting film screenings, workshops, performances and installations as they tackle climate change through art.

Stanley Arts in Norwood Hill, Croydon, will be taken over by green-fingered youngsters taking the climate crisis into their own hands for the festival, Arcadia, which will run from April 4 to 7.

With many free events and activities, the festival is presented in five strands including Performances, Installations, Workshops, Film screenings and a colourful Holi celebration.

Headlining the festival is a screening of Can I Live?, a film  presented by theatre company Complicité and written and performed by Fehinti Balogun.

Fehinti Balogun in Can I Live? presented by Complicité (Picture: David Hewitt)

Weaving his story with spoken word, rap, theatre, animation and the research, Mr Balogun identifies the relationship between the environmental crisis and the struggle for social justice, and shares how, as a young Black British man, he has found his place. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with Mr Balogun alongside activists and artists.

The whole day of April 6, will be a mix of activities for all ages. Visitors can connect with Croydon’s climate and nature groups as well as learning about bike fixing and beekeeping, and gain tips on how to make their homes more sustainable.

Eco artist Ian Solomon-Kawall will be involved in the panel discussion and Q&A after the screening of Can I Live? (Picture: Stanley Arts)

On April 7, Lira Valencia – known as Croydon’s own David Attenborough – will lead a nature trail and volunteering exercise at South Norwood Lake.

The 28-year-old, known on social media as Outside with Lira, has racked up more than 60,000 followers on her Instagram account which details her day to day life exploring urban wildlife as a ranger for the London Wildlife Trust.

Ms Valencia will be leading a nature trail from Stanley Arts and heading toward the South Norwood Lake where she’ll share the joys of bird-watching and her favourite wildlife species.

The tour will then link up with Friends of South Norwood Lake to learn how to take care of newly planted trees and how to get more active. Any under 16 year olds must be accompanied by an adult for this free tour and pre booking is advised.

Croydon beekeepers association (Picture: Stanley Arts)

Later that afternoon another tour, led by freelance writer, journalist and cultural historian Chris Schüler, will delve into the history of Croydon’s woodlands.

It is hard to imagine that the busy townscape of South London was once a great wood, stretching almost seven miles from Croydon to Deptford. Perhaps even less known is that scattered through the suburbs, from Dulwich to Norwood, a number of oak woodlands have survived since before the Norman Conquest. 

Mr Schüler, will be leading a walking tour to one of the surviving woodlands nearby and talking about his book The Wood That Built London, a history of the Great North Wood.

The event is free and pre-booking is advised. Books will be available to purchase on the day.

To finish off the festival, throughout the afternoon and into the evening of April 7, Holi Celebrations will be held to mark the arrival of Spring.

Lira Valencia (Picture: Stanley Arts)

In a collaboration between Stanley Arts and Beeja Dance, the Holi celebrations will include music, dance, food and festivities for all ages. 

For this event, local and national dance companies will host performances and workshops. Tickets will be £8 for adults and £4 for children over four-yers-old.

Kay Michael, co-producer of Arcadia, said “Climate change and biodiversity loss is here and isn’t slowing down. 

“We’re facing this head-on by galvanising our local community of artists, creative partners, young people and activists to imagine what a greener, healthier and fairer future looks like and how we can get there. 

“Arcadia is a mythological utopia, a golden age of peace, harmony and prosperity for all.  We’re drawing on this vision of a green paradise, and centering young people’s responses to it, rooted in the locality, history and cultural diversity of Croydon, one of London’s greenest boroughs. 

“We’re excited to see what comes next.”

Pictured top: Lira Valencia known on social media as Outside with Lira (Picture: Stanley Arts)

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