A Battersea-based arts centre that works with community groups and young people has been awarded a £10,000 grant from Wandsworth Council.
At the most recent grants committee, a single ‘cultural capacity’ grant was awarded to Agora Arts Circle to encourage it to develop as a business and continue its work bringing the arts to a broader audience and emerging young artists.
Marie Bidegaray, co-founder of Agora Arts Circle and resident of the Winstanley Estate, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service that the group is particularly focused on engaging with Battersea residents.
She said: “We are very much based in Battersea because it takes time to build relationships and for people to trust us, because if they do not trust us then they are not going to tell us what they need, and they are just going to see us as one of those agencies that just comes and goes.”
London’s first Black Mayor could soon be commemorated in Battersea.
The leader of Wandsworth Council, Ravi Govindia, has launched a campaign to erect a statue of John Archer in the Battersea or Clapham Junction area following calls by community group Love Battersea for the local trailblazer to be commemorated.
John Archer, whose father was from Barbados, moved to Battersea the 1890s with his wife Bertha, and initially served as a councillor in the Latchmere ward, successfully campaigning for a minimum wage of 32 shillings a week for council workers.
He was elected as mayor of Battersea in 1913, giving a rousing speech in which he declared:
“You have made history tonight. For the first time in the history of the English nation a man of colour has been elected as mayor of an English borough."
In 1918 he became the first president of the African Progress Union and chaired the Pan-African Congress in London.
He was again elected, in 1931, as councillor for the Nine Elms ward, before becoming deputy leader of Battersea Council. He died while in the role in 1932 aged 69.
Mr Govindia said: “Now seems the right time to look for positive role models and to celebrate the achievements of John Archer who remains an inspiration for so many people.
“With racial equality and justice at the forefront of the news agenda I feel that this is the perfect way to celebrate black achievement and a man who paved the way for future generations of politicians from black and minority ethnic backgrounds.” .
The council plans to contribute an initial donation towards the statue and then seek further contributions from the wider community to help get it built.
Leader of the Labour Opposition, Simon Hogg, tweeted his support saying: “John Archer is a hero in Battersea’s radical Labour history".