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High street events programme launched at Whitechapel Gallery


The first in a series of events to help bring shoppers and visitors back to high streets in the borough kicked off this weekend with a free arts festival organised by Whitechapel Gallery.

Nocturnal Creatures transformed the famous gallery and nearby historic and outdoor spaces with installations, films, live performances, music, and food experiences for one night only on Saturday 17 July.

It was the first event part-funded by the council’s Thriving High Streets 3 programme that seeks to increase footfall in key high streets and help local businesses bounce back from the pandemic.

Cllr Motin Uz-Zaman, Cabinet Member for Work and Economic Growth, met the festival’s curators, Emily Butler, Mahera and Mohammad Abu Ghazaleh Curator, and Wells Fray-Smith, Assistant Curator: Special Projects, to look around the Gallery and experience one of the event’s installations ahead of its launch. The festival is also organised by Inês Costa, Curatorial Assistant.

John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said:

“We are working hard to support local businesses and reinvigorate our high streets and this programme of events gives us all something to look forward to and helps to bring more visitors to our borough.

“The Thriving High Streets 3 programme also offers advice and support for businesses recovering from the pandemic as well as helping new start-ups on local markets, which together with the events programme, will help our local businesses bounce back.”

Cllr Motin Uz-Zaman, Cabinet Member for Work and Economic Growth, said:

“This is a fantastic event and we are very pleased to be working with Whitechapel Gallery to help bring our local businesses and cultural organisations together.

“The Covid-19 pandemic hit local businesses hard. On average footfall fell by at least 30% and so we want to help bring people back to our high streets. We think these events are a great way to do that and look forward to working with our brilliant cultural partners.”

The Nocturnal Creatures curatorial team said:

“We’re thrilled that Nocturnal Creatures, our late-night summer festival across the East End, was able to take place on 17 July. Everyone was welcome to enjoy a balmy summer evening experiencing installations, films, live performances, music and food — all in real life. The project aimed to invite new audiences through unique experiences in nearby historic and surprising spaces. This year we also planned several outdoor installations, and shared an associate programme with Artsadmin and Sculpture in the City, to ensure a safe and enjoyable festival experience for all.”

Other events that are coming up as part of the Thriving High Streets 3 programme include:

Street Feat, a summer festival celebrating the art, music, food and fashion that make Redchurch Street special, from Friday 31 July until Sunday 1 August.

A community mural called ‘Welcoming Back Our Locals’ led by Rich Mix, including workshops and street stalls, during July and August, with the mural set to launch in late September.

A photography exhibition at Oxford House, Four Corners Gallery and shop windows in Bethnal Green Road in August and September.

Community gardening and food waste activities with Globe town Assembly, Friends of Meath Gardens, Spitalfields Farm and Silas Yard.

Community events on Roman Road Square by Tower Hamlets Homes.