Revealed: Waltham Forest's Cultural Stars

14 November 2017


Waltham Forest’s Cultural Stars were revealed yesterday at a special celebratory tea held at the William Morris Gallery. The 20 Cultural Stars had all been nominated by local people for the contribution they have made to arts and culture in the borough.

Representing a wide range of arts and culture, the Cultural Stars are all linked by the considerable contribution they have made to Waltham Forest.  From youth leaders and inspirational teachers to entrepreneurs and those spearheading community regeneration initiatives, the Cultural Stars have all made their mark on Waltham Forest and made a tangible difference to the lives of people living, working and studying here.

At the special tea, the Cultural Stars were each presented with ‘Back the Bid’ postcards which had been designed by the Hooksmith Press in Leytonstone.  Each postcard was signed by the Leader of the Council Cllr Clare Coghill and Chief Executive of the Council Martin Esom who were present at the tea to personally congratulate the Stars, along with the Mayor of Waltham Forest Cllr Yemi Osho.

Cllr Clare Coghill, Leader of Waltham Forest Council, said: “Whilst Waltham Forest has an incredible heritage and fantastic venues, it is the people living and working here that make it such a vibrant and culturally rich place.  Our Cultural Stars represent the very best of Waltham Forest – hard-working, innovative and enthusiastic individuals who want to make a positive difference to our community.  We are incredibly fortunate to have such a wonderful group of people living and working here and it has been a privilege to recognise their contribution today.

“It is because of people like our Cultural Stars that Waltham Forest is a front-runner in the Mayor’s Borough of Culture competition.  As today demonstrates, we are a borough of makers, radicals and fellowship and are truly deserving to be the first ever London Borough of Culture.”

The bid team is asking everyone who lives and works in the borough to get behind the bid by pledging their support at and following WFculture19 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. They are also encouraging supporters to show the Mayor of London why the borough deserves the title by sharing pictures and pledges using #mylocalculture.


Cultural Stars
Cultural Stars

Waltham Forest’s Cultural Stars

  • 15 year-old Emmie Emin who volunteered for over 100 hours last year as a dance teacher for children and young people
  • Maria Theodoulou who set up Leaders Community – a not-for-profit organisation that delivers social inclusion opportunities for vulnerable and isolated young people
  • Clare Farrow who teaches contemporary dance to adults of all abilities
  • Dee Wood who organises the outdoor film festival Hitchcock’s Home
  • The ARC team – comprising Jade Holt, Kerry Phillips, Claire Rain and Martha Kilner – who are responsible for promoting arts and culture as part of the Higham’s Park Planning Group
  • Award-winning artist Farah Ishaq who was responsible for the amazing installation under the St James Street Station railway bridge
  • Lucy Harrison who worked on the Warner Estate and Lea Bridge Station projects which uncovered the history of the local area
  • CentrE17 founders Max and Ruth Peters who also direct the annual Walthamstow Community Play
  • Comedian Susan Murray who founded the Red Imp Comedy Club
  • Owner of the Hooksmith Press, Russell Frost who handcrafts posters and prints using a combination of traditional wood and metal type
  • Anna Alcock who set up Inky Cuttlefish Studio – a creative-led arts space with printmaking studio that offers community engagement through art, exhibitions and opportunities for artists
  • Antoinette Pienaar who owns Leytonstone boutique Jo&Kesi
  • The Love South Chingford Team – comprising Emma Keith, Jan Blythe, Claire Ford and Arnie Hemmes – who are working to regenerate the area around Albert Crescent and along the Chingford Mount Road and Old Church Road
  • Bulgarian book shop owners Elina Stoyanova and Milena Devedzhieva’s whose shop Once Upon a Time has become a hub for all members of the local community
  • Sammy Edmonds and Graham Bryan who own and run RAW Academy – a performing arts academy for 5-20 year olds
  • Professional violinist Alison Jones who is an artistic director at Shapeshifter Productions and co-founder of the Walthamstow Acoustic Massive;
  • Alison Griffin and the volunteers at community hub The Mill
  • Louise Goulden who founded social enterprise The Together Project which seeks to help integrate local communities and reduce loneliness amongst the most vulnerable members of the community
  • St Anne’s Church Warden Heather Gwynn who organises the annual Chingford Hatch Day
  • The E17 Jazz Collective which was set up to galvanise the local scene around the many top UK jazz musicians living in the Walthamstow area.

Quotes from our Cultural Stars

On being nominated, local artist Farah Ishaq said “I'm absolutely thrilled to be nominated as one of Waltham Forest's Cultural Stars.  As a lifelong resident of Walthamstow, I'm so lucky to be surrounded by makers, creators, designers and dreamers.  Changing career from music publishing to full time artist two years ago would likely not have been such a success if it wasn't for the people of the borough.”

Inky Cuttlefish Studio owner Anna Alcock said: “I feel very honoured to be nominated and I will keep on putting Walthamstow history and culture in the forefront of what I do as it is where I live and where my children and family have their home.  The community has supported me over the years through thick and thin and the warm, welcoming and friendly culture of the locals has meant a lot to me as an outsider looking for a place to call home.”

The competition was launched as part of the borough’s bid to become London Borough of Culture.  The Cultural Stars will now act as ambassadors for the bid.

Max and Ruth Peters, who set up performance venue CentrE17 and who direct the Walthamstow Community Play, said: “Having worked on the Walthamstow Community Play and now running CentrE17, we can see what a positive impact arts and culture can have on a community.  There are some fantastic community initiatives within the borough and we have every confidence that, if Waltham Forest were to be named London Borough of Culture, the additional funding would bring tangible benefits for the community as a whole.”

Contemporary dance teacher Clare Farrow said: “I love that there is such a strong sense of community here.  Waltham Forest is an amazing borough full of artists, creativity and diversity.  I'm backing the bid to be London Borough of Culture because it's important to showcase the talent that makes this borough unique and to enrich our communities through accessing culture of the highest artistic quality.”

RAW Academy owners Sammy Edmonds and Graham Bryan said: “We are backing the bid, as we believe that our borough is a thriving cultural hub that offers a huge amount of diversity in the arts and this deserves to be celebrated and rewarded.  We are truly proud to be part it.”