Archive for June, 2013

Dear Jude – Long Live Southbank

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A commercial for a community worth celebrating.

Filmed and edited by LLSB spokesperson Henry Edwards-Wood, a skateboard cinematographer who grew up skating and filming at the Undercroft.

Please don’t let this wonderful example of what human beings can do together without money, planning, policing or institutional influence be destroyed by an organisation who are meant to be cultivating artistic expression and diversity.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS: LONG LIVE SOUTHBANK – CAMPAIGN TO SAVE HISTORIC UK SKATE AND BMX SPOT

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Skateboarding has endured as a sport and an art form because of the persistence and creativity of skaters; when there were no formal, designated skateparks, riders adapted and created their own spots using existing urban sites, features, and architecture. The Southbank Undercroft in London is one spot that organically came into existence as skaters carved out such places. With so many urban sites that became iconic skate spots, drawing tourists/ skaters worldwide, either being destroyed or skate-proofed, such as the Brooklyn Banks in New York City…

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A LETTER TO THE SOUTHBANK CENTRE

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n light of recent moves by the Southbank Centre to progress in the redevelopment of the Undercroft without consulting the Long Live Southbank team we have issued an open letter addressed to artistic director Jude Kelly. Despite the fact that the Southbank Centre recognises Long Live Southbank as the established representative for the Undercroft users we were not consulted in the plans to create the new skate spot at Hungerford Bridge. We wanted to express our disappointment in the centres decision to try and begin these plans prematurely with members of the skate community before the outcome of the planning hearing and village green proposal.

The Southbank Centre have attempted to gain public support by advising that the Undercroft will be closed for three years whatever the outcome of these proposals. They are misleading the public into believing that the Hungerford Bridge is the only solution and we know that it is not. The letter requests the Southbank Centre to tell the truth to the public.

Most importantly, we refuse to accept the Hungerford Bridge as a replacement skate area and from the objections we have collected from the local Lambeth community, the public and major institutions we know that a lot more people feel this way too. We are not ready to give up and we wanted the Southbank Centre to know this.

There is still time to challenge the redevelopment proposals and you can get involved by completing the objection form form online.

Long Live Southbank!

SOUTHBANKS FESTIVAL OF NEIGHBOURHOOD

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Long Live Southbank may have gone to Glastonbury to round up support but it has not been invited to the Southbank Centres Festival of the Neighbourhood. Megan Munro discusses the failure of Southbank Centre to recognise and celebrate the undercroft and those who use it as part of the festivals community.

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If you approach any Londoner, and ask them to name the first thing that pops into their head when they hear the word ‘Southbank’, a vast majority of them will reply with something about the world famous undercroft. And yet, somehow, with all the work the Southbank Centre has put into their Festival of Neighbourhood, there seems to be no mention of the community they are so desperate to appease amid all the rad-dad b-boy shows or the giant murals.

If you look at the website for the festival, you will see this; “This summer we are turning Southbank Centre into London’s friendliest neighbourhood – and you’re invited!” That is, unless you’re a skateboarder, photographer, film-maker or anyone who hopes to use the undercroft in its current form. Isn’t the undercroft and the community there part of this neighbourhood? Isn’t that precisely what the Southbank Centre has been telling us? That they care, and understand our need for a space in which to express ourselves which also maintains the cultural history? Once again, however, it seems that grassroots British culture is being passed over, in favour of expression through swing dance, the Beano and an inflatable purple cow.

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Its not that we don’t appreciate purple cows as a venue to hold comedy, its just that we feel we are as much a part of the neighbourhood as she it. The undercroft provides a free venue for skateboarders, BMXers, artists, photographers, filmmakers and more. It offers an environment where they know they won’t be shouted at, abused or chased away and this should be protected, as it is something that has become incredibly rare elsewhere in the city.

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It also provides an exciting, creative and interactive free show for the public. How many people do you see standing and watching at the railing while we go about our daily business? I’ll wager it’s a lot. Why is it then we are being ignored by the Southbank Centre yet again? As they directly contradict the position they have supposedly maintained in this process, that the undercroft community is a vital part of the Southbank and that it is regretfully that they are pursuing the removal of the space and its users. What they essentially have here is an area that requires no funding, providing free activities for the community in Lambeth, and for those who have come from further afield. Christian Juri supports this, as he believes; “It’s time that the Centre, which claims to have arts and community at its heart, starts to appreciate the vital role the Undercroft plays in the area. No organisation, arts funding or commercial units required. Free art for everyone”.

And so the question is, do you think this space is worth saving? If so, become a member and complete an objection form. We need your support to save a real slice of our cultural history and a unique space where young people can really express themselves.

CHRISTIAN JURI: CORNERING SKATING AT THE SOUTHBANK

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For 40 years people have been skating at the Undercroft at the Southbank. Long before shops, cafes or restaurants appeared in the area. Apart from having become one of the most famed skating spots in the world, it has also brought life to the Southbank as a whole. Now the Southbank Centre threatens to close it down and replace it with commercial units, cafes, restaurants, shops. To “fund new spaces for children, young people, education and art,” as they write….

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LONG LIVE SOUTHBANK AT NIKE GO SKATEBOARDING DAY

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The day saw members of Nike UK, Landscape, Palace, Cliché, Isle and Superdead skateboard teams perform some amazing skateboarding manoeuvres at the Undercroft and they executed a series of tricks that had never before done at Southbank. This was enjoyed by an army of skaters, who had been to several spots and then had the pleasure of witnessing some of the best skaters in the country have a heated session at the Undercroft.

After a few hours of skating the Nike team gave away a load of free T-Shirts to all of the skaters who participated in the event and they encouraged everyone there to skate and have fun with it.

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Long Live Southbank had a dedicated team at the Undercroft on the day sitting on our tables and they encouraged skaters and spectators to make a statement about the Southbank Centre’s proposed redevelopment plans for the Undercroft. Hundreds of people visited the Long Live Southbank table to make objections against the redevelopment and leave messages for Lambeth Planning

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The Go Skateboarding day Southbank stop was a success which saw some incredible skateboarding and a lot of fun was had by the skaters who joined in and the audience who watched them skate.

Nike’s inclusion of Southbank as a location for its Go Skateboarding day celebration highlights the Undercroft’s influential role in the local community because it manages to attract talented skaters from around the country into London to skate for a huge audience who would otherwise never get to see it.

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Long Live Southbank

 

SOUTHBANK CENTRE PRESENTS PLANS TO THE WATERLOO COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT GROUP

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On Wednesday evening, Paul, Henry and I went to watch the Southbank Centre present their plans for the Festival Wing to local residents at a meeting of the Waterloo Community Development Group. The presentation itself was nothing new, we had seen it several times, but it was great to hear the local residents response.

To our surprise, the local criticisms of the plan mirrored those expressed in our own talks with the Southbank almost exactly. To summarise the main objections raised were:

The Undercroft is one of the few remaining sites of interest visible from the river walk. There are enough restaurants along the river walk as things stand.
The skate spot is an important part of the culture and history of the Southbank Centre, the local area and London as a whole. It’s history is tied to its current space.
The Southbank Centre needs to return to the planning stage in order to come up with a solution that works for everyone.

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None of us went in to the meeting expecting such a unanimously sympathetic response from a group of people, who themselves were quick to point out that skateboarding was not the sort of thing normally discussed in their meetings.

We were all heartened to see the level of understanding of what we at Long Live Southbank are doing. It was certainly a motivating experience to get such positive feedback and support.

The Southbank Centre seems to be in denial regarding how unpopular their plans are proving to be. At each turn they try to dismiss the massive backlash as a single issue, despite it coming from a variety of interested parties. It is clear that they need to face the fact that their plan simply isn’t what the public wants, take a step back and come up with a plan that works.

Adam Spensley

Long Live Southbank!

CULTOUR MAGAZINE: PROFESSOR SKATE

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Iain Borden is a professor of architecture and urban culture at the prestigious University College London. But his teaching is also about skateboarding – his passion. When you first meet Iain Borden, you can´t really imagine him skating through the city of London or hanging around at Southbank with the cool kids. His wire-rimmed glasses and his black shirt give him an academic appearance. His look definitely fits in better at his office at the University College London (UCL)…

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