FUSEBOX launch

FUSEBOX opens in Kingston

FUSEBOX opens in Kingston

HRH The Duke of Edinburgh has officially opened the new creative space in Kingston. We headed to the launch to find out more and chatted to the new co-directors of the charity behind it…

FUSEBOX, Kingston’s new creative space for young people, has been officially opened by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh.

The project, led by local charity Creative Youth, has seen the basement space beneath John Lewis transformed into a performance and exhibition area as well as a hub for creative practice and co-creation. The unique space houses the footings of the original 12th century Kingston Bridge and the remains of a medieval cellar – the renovation, funded by the Mayor of London’s Good Growth Fund, means that these incredible pieces of local history can be viewed by the public more widely.

His Royal Highness is president of Creative Youth. At an event on Friday, he unveiled a plaque to mark the official opening, which was attended by patrons and supporters of the charity as well as representatives from the Greater London Authority and the Royal Borough of Kingston whose support helped make FUSEBOX possible.

The name FUSEBOX references Creative Youth’s annual festival FUSE International, which brings together creatives from around the world, and the venue has been open for a pilot season of events over the last six months.

Robin Hutchinson, chair of Creative Youth, said: “FUSEBOX is quite simply a game changer for Creative Youth ensuring we can offer young creatives a dynamic, flexible and inspiring place. A home for them to develop their ideas, projects and partnerships. Even the pilot programme has shown that great things will emerge from this space and now we will be open full time, the opportunities just multiply.”

Time & Leisure was delighted to be invited to the event. We chatted to the new co-directors of Creative Youth, Archie O’Neill & Daniel Cartlidge, who will take over the reins from CEO Louise Coles. Louise will remain with the charity to help with fundraising. Daniel was previously general manager at Creative Youth. He has a passion for highlighting underrepresented identities on stage and supporting emerging artists. Archie has been the community & participation manager at Creative Youth, working with community groups, schools and colleges, youth services and artists from underserved backgrounds.

Said Archie: “Creative Youth works across any art form you can think of – visual, performance, dance, video games and film. It’s really important for us to have this space. We’ve been somewhat behind closed doors during the pilot season while the facade was reconstructed. But we’ve had young people inside and experimenting with the space. This launch event is important for us to show what we have done so far, our plans for the future and making sure everyone feels included.”

They have been thrilled with the response to the pilot season. Said Daniel: “These last six months of testing have helped us to establish key partners and contacts with community groups and we have a broad range of people who want to use the space for multiple different reasons. We want to fill it with all kinds of art from all kinds of young people in the local area and surrounding boroughs. It’s about being able to delve in to community work and see what is happening in the youth clubs, the arts centres and drama groups and give those who don’t have performance venues or exhibition spaces a platform to showcase their work. We are really excited for the future.”

Kingston has so much to offer in terms of creativity and culture, says Archie. “When I came here and joined Creative Youth two years ago I was amazed to see how many young people there are creating and making things. A lot of that comes out of the university but also from the likes of a really dynamic youth service such as Achieving for Children, who are engaging young people on a regular basis through youth clubs, and with initiatives such as Anstee Bridge. The aim of FUSEBOX is to give young people a space they can fully take over as well as having the expertise from a team like ours who can support them in the next step of their careers.”

Archie added: “It is also a beautiful space and it’s important to showcase FUSEBOX as a heritage site, which is now open on a continuous year-round basis for the local community to see.”