Category Archives: Arts & culture

The making of mayamada – journey into manga

We’ve got an amazing event on Saturday 5 August, 1.30pm at Westminster Reference Library : ‘The making of mayamada – journey into manga’.  More info on our website

mayamanda founders, Nigel and Lao have written a guest blog post to tell us more –

The story of mayamada starts with failure, also known as a “learning experience”. We’ve had a few of those along the way…

mayamada founders Nigel and Lao

In the beginning, there was just an idea between a group of friends with a love of Japanese culture. We wanted to make cool t-shirts and sell them to an adoring fan base.

Unfortunately, the cool t-shirts never came, and neither did the fan base!

So once we admitted our plan was working we had a rethink. The group became a duo and me along with co-founder Lao set about working on a real brand to build.

As well as an interest in anime, manga, and cartoons, we also had a passion for storytelling. So after a brainstorming session (or two) we put those things together and came up with a whole universe of characters and stories. A brand was born.

mayamada became a universe; a television network with an all star cast of anthropomorphic characters. We started designing characters and writing manga-style comics to tell the story of the shows on the mayamada network.

mayamada manga

Even with the idea sorted, it still took a while to get our first title released. Two years. In 2013, we were able to self-publish Samurai Chef Volume 1 thanks to a successful Indiegogo crowd funding campaign.

Samurai Chef

Since then we’ve released the complete edition of Samurai Chef along with Hot Lunch: The Outer Circle and Serious Volume 1.

mayamada manga titles

We even managed to create some cool t-shirts featuring our characters. The fan base started to come too. It’s been great to see people respond positively to our stories, characters, and clothing.

mayamada clothing

We’ve been able to take our brand to comic conventions across the country where we get to meet new fans and people who have been supporting us for years now.  The support has allowed us to build the mayamada universe through new characters and stories.

Hyper Japan Summer 2016

But it hasn’t stopped there. We’ve also been able to launch our own social gaming event, GamePad. With the aim of making gaming more inclusive, we work with gaming companies including Ubisoft and Nintendo to put on a fun day of gaming for everyone. We’re glad for that initial failure, we never would be here without it.

mayamada GamePad Highlights

This is still at the beginning of our story though. There are lots more mayamada stories to write and characters to meet. No doubt there’ll be more learning experiences too as we keep building our brand – it’s all part of the journey!

mayamada brand

 

Many thanks to Nigel and Lao for sharing their story with us; don’t forget if you’d like to meet them on Saturday 5 August – book your free place on Eventbrite

French Culture Day at Church Street Library

Drama, music, suspense, storytelling and so much more were on offer on Tuesday 4 July at Church Street Library for French Culture Day.

And the pirates’ treasure was found!

French Culture Day kicked off in the morning with Institut français’ Anna Orford and her wonderfully eclectic under 5s storytelling session (in French and English) with songs, suspense and French book prizes (and the treasure was made of chocolate!).

There was a treasure hunt, later on in the day, for children aged 5-10, followed by a French class for adults. Altogether, more than 135 people joined us on the day.

I would like to say a  massive heartfelt thank you to our irreplaceable French Club tutors/volunteers Elodie and Tissam. They prepared the treasure hunt (clues, images, prizes etc) and adult lesson plan for the French class.

Most importantly, Elodie established a partnerships with King Solomon Academy’s French teacher, that was a great help as the teacher and two of her Year 13 pupils helped with running  the treasure hunt. This will hopefully lead to further joint events. I honestly couldn’t have done this without them!

Last but not least, Emmanuelle from Institut français kindly donated boxes of French books (which we also used as treasure hunt prizes) for the French book sale and the books sold very well. Oh and she said, let’s do this again around Christmas time!

Debora, Church Street Library

Volunteer with us this summer

Looking for something to do this summer? We are looking for volunteers to help deliver the Summer Reading Challenge in our libraries. Young people (14 to 25 year olds) are especially welcome to apply to volunteer.

The Summer Reading Challenge is a national reading initiative which encourages children to read for fun over the summer holidays.

The combination of fun, freedom, and creativity impacts significantly on children’s reading levels and confidence. Taking part in the challenge helps prevent the ‘summer reading dip’ which can occur when children are at home over the long summer break and, without reading opportunities, lose confidence in their reading.

 

We’ve had some fantastic volunteers, who’ve really helped make a difference and had some fun too. Here’s what a couple of them had to say –

If I had to sum up my volunteering as a Summer Reading Challenge Mentor, I would say the experience definitely made my summer! During the holidays, there’s a lot of time but not much to do. So what did I do? I took on the opportunity to be a Mentor and I loved it so much I volunteered at the same library again for 2 summers! Being a Reading Challenge Mentor is huge fun – you get to interact with young kids and really get a understanding of what books they enjoy. From science fiction to books about jam sandwiches (yes, there’s a book on that!), reading can be extremely exciting if you find the right book! I had a truly great time meeting with  young readers but also working alongside the friendliest staff around! The library staff are so welcoming and I truly enjoyed my volunteering . If you love reading and want to make a difference – this is the opportunity for you!

I had the pleasure of spending two summers in libraries around West London supporting the summer reading challenge. I loved interacting with all of the children and helping them to explore new genres and authors. Assisting with the planning and facilitation of arts and crafts sessions was definitely a highlight of mine. I also enjoyed helping to create in library displays to showcase the children’s work. I have always been passionate about helping children and young people. My work with the challenge inspired me to pursue a career within the education and charity sectors.  I would encourage anybody to take part in this programme, it was an amazing experience and has been an asset to my CV.

You can download a profile and apply to voulnteer on our website.

Nick, Tri-borough Libraries Children’s Services Manager

Generation Z: what do we know about young audiences?

We are very fortunate to have two Cultural Partnerships Officers within our service. Their role is to support the  library service, but they have a wider remit too  – to support the arts and culture sector in the city and increase access for residents, particularly the most vulnerable, to cultural events.

They do this by brokering between different partners and community groups or council services, facilitation of events, providing advice and signposting, sharing information, supporting fundraising and giving opportunities for professional development at Culture Network Westminster.

So, what’s the Culture Network Westminster..?

It was set up nine years ago, has around 500 individual members representing about 200 different arts organisations, cultural institutions, community groups, teachers, social workers and council officers. We hold two large scale networking events each year, with a professional speaker talking about an area relevant to arts and culture professionals. Each event is normally attended by around 40-70 network members. Previous events have covered volunteering, digital marketing and fundraising – and have been held in venues such as the Wigmore Hall, Somerset House and Tate Britain.

Over to Debora and Charlotte to tell us about the most recent Culture Network Westminster event –

Our last Culture Network Westminster (CNW) event was held at The House of St Barnabas, a Grade I listed Georgian town house in the heart of Soho. It began with introduction to the charity whose unique model, of a social business and integrated employment academy, aims to break the cycle of homelessness.

The event took off in the charming Chapel of St Barnabas followed by light refreshments in the dramatic 18th century Rococo Drawing Room where our CNW members networked and relaxed in the elegant historical setting.

Members also enjoyed exploring the House and The Collective, a contemporary art programme of rotating exhibitions and permanent collection.

Our main speaker Lucie Fitton, Head of Learning and Participation at The Audience Agency, shared some of the company’s latest work and insight about young audiences – with a particular focus on teenagers and young adults.  What do we know about the needs, interests, digital habits and characteristics of young people and how this impacts on this audience’s engagement with the arts, culture and creativity?

We had some lovely feedback from two of our members:

“I would like to thank you and the team for running another excellent event. We have found these events invaluable for our organisation as we have the opportunity to network with other people in the local area.”  Nadia Holland, Learning Coordinator, Royal Collection Trust

“It was such a great space and was a really interesting and ingenious mixture of people and organisations. Well done!”  Lucy Foster, Community Heritage Programme Manager, Paddington Development Trust

We would also like to share the following supporting material related to our main speaker and project pitching session:

  1. Westminster presentation What we know about young people
  2. ST MARY MAGS INFO
  3. Time Credits in Arts and Culture LONDON
  4. Neighbourhood Keepers Proposal Guidelines
  5. Westminster Business Information Point

Debora Gambera and Charlotte Fergusson

WCC Culture Partnerships Office

 

Impro For Elders – back by popular demand!

 

Back by popular demand, Impro For Elders is starting again at Church Street Library! The project is a 8-week pilot programme starting tomorrow, Wednesday 17 May, 3.45pm to 5.15pm (ask at the library for more details).

This grew out of a project delivered by Improbable Theatre in partnership with Church Street Library between November and December last year. It was funded by a local community fund, Create and Arts Council England. Directors Andre Pink and Caroline Williams worked with over twenty 60+ people local to the Church Street Ward to explore improvisation and storytelling, aiming to give older people from the local area access to the uplifting shared experience of improvising together. You can read about what happened last year on a previous blog post, Improbable Impro.

Impro For Elders appeared at The Cockpit in a double bill with Improbable’s improvised show Lifegame on 30 November and 1 December 2016. In a special version of Lifegame, one of the Impro For Elders participants was the on-stage guest each night.

We received some fantastic feedback from both participants and audience members:

“What I have gained out of it is immense and given me positive energy which I was certainly lacking before taking part in the project.”

“I actually feel years younger! I was surprised at how much energy I had and how my body could do things I thought I could no longer do.”

“I thought it was the best theatre experience I’ve seen and felt this year. Inclusive, moving, funny, full of possibilities” 

“A thoroughly enjoyable evening – both shows were filled with joy, humour and passion. I always enjoy Improbable performances, and the Impro For Elders concept is a fantastic one.”

Given the extraordinarily successful outcome and subsequent demand from local older residents, Andre Pink from Dende Collective has offered to continue on a voluntary basis whilst Improbable will be sponsoring him to make it more sustainable.

The project will work again with the same group along with new participants. Visit the Dende Collective’s website  for more information about them and their upcoming events.

‘As a company rooted in improvisation, we believe that it is a deeply democratic art form that fosters a sense of community and empowerment amongst its participants and audiences alike. In an age of increasing digital complexity it is determinedly live, and about the people who take part, their energy and what they offer.’ Ben Monks, Improbable Executive Director.

Visit Improbable’s website for more information about them and and their upcoming events.

Debora Gambera (Church Street Library)

Ben Monks (Improbable Executive Director)

Free Comic Book Day on Saturday 6 May 2017

Pop in to your local Westminster library on Saturday 6 May for Free Comic Book Day!

Free Comic Book Day is an international celebration of all things comics – taking place on the first Saturday in May, it is a day where new titles are released, and comic shops giveaway free issues – we are also taking part, courtesy of the grand folks at Forbidden Planet who are providing the comics.

Free Comic Book Day is perfect for both hard-core collector fans and those whose interest has been piqued for the first time.

Enthusiasts of the comic book / graphic novel form will tell of the inventive artwork to stun and amaze – the array of characters, from superhero to regular Joe. The different universes on offer and running plot lines that will be hard to forget.

Explore all this and more at one of our libraries, please ask staff for your free comic book. We have three titles to give out, while stocks last – head on in before missing out.

Discover characters including Wonder Woman, DC superhero girls plus look out for the Forbidden Planet exclusive variant of the Doctor Who title too, featuring the Doctor with new assistant, Bill.

Why not check out the graphic novel selection or the DVDs available while you are there and see what else your local Westminster library has to offer?

[Matthew]

Queen’s Park Celebration

Henna painting at Queen's Park Library's Community Cultural Celebration, February 2017Queen’s Park is an area known for its diversity, and on Thursday 9 February we held a Community Cultural Celebration in the library which recognised the wide mix of people who live in the area.

The event – part of the Made in Libraries festival – began with face-painting and badge-making for the kids and continued with henna, Indian head massage and jewellery-making.

Chinese calligraphy master Mr Zhu particularly impressed the crowd with his beautiful translations of people’s names, and the evening was rounded off with some lively African dancing provided by local health and well-being group Healthier Life 4 You.

Mr Zhu's calligraphy at Queen's Park Library's Community Cultural Celebration, February 2017  Mr Zhu's calligraphy at Queen's Park Library's Community Cultural Celebration, February 2017

North African, Caribbean and Bangladeshi food was on offer, courtesy of local businesses Timgad and Guava Nights, plus the libraries’ ESOL conversation class. Not surprisingly this proved very popular! The library was absolutely packed with a mix of old and young, familiar faces and curious newcomers all keen to sample the activities. To say the atmosphere was lively would be something of an understatement, although fortunately the Learning Centre was available for those who wanted an escape from it all.

Picture from ‘Women of Colour - an Exhibition of Samplism’ by Toby Laurent Belson. Queen's Park Library 2017

Complementing the event’s theme was ‘Women of Colour – an Exhibition of Samplism’ by the local artist Toby Laurent Belson, which runs until 7 March. Toby’s vivid collage pieces, which depict women of the African diaspora, are stunning and make a visit to Queen’s Park Library even more worthwhile.

[Lucy]