Libraries Are Creative Spaces

Applications for artists to be part of SPINE Festival 2019 close on 12.10.18.

Here SPINE producer Nicky Crabb reflects on some of the exciting things she’s seen in libraries as part of SPINE Festival. 


Since we began working more closely with libraries as partners in 2012, we have seen an opening up and flourishing of library spaces as creative spaces – and this is now our tag line for our annual flagship SPINE Festival which takes place in libraries across London every March.

Here are 5 unexpected things I have been delighted to see in libraries over the last few years which hopefully blast away anyone’s notions of a quiet, dull and dusty space!

  1.     A youth dance troupe performing amidst the bookcases in Walthamstow library on a Wednesday evening and one man with headphones on suddenly looked up surprised as a young dancer twirled past him.
  2.     A recycled fashion show created by, performed by and produced by teenagers at Thornton Heath Library with all the main spaces transformed into literary landscapes which the audience walked around exploring with delight and surprise on their faces. 
  3.     The beatboxer Marv Radio and poet Remi Graves taking over Rhymetime for pre-school children at Croydon Central Library – hearing toddlers and their often shy parents having a go at beatboxing a nursery rhyme, the place was packed! 
  4.     A huge piece of paper curling its way around Kingston Library as animator Linnea Haviland led workshops with class after class of local primary school children inspiring them to draw or describe what their local area meant to them – this resulted in the most beautiful and touching animation which you can see for yourself here. 
  5.     Grime artists performing in Detpford Lounge as part of a Neon Fest, again produced and programmed by young people, with all ages from toddlers to grandparents dancing in the space

As we begin the preparations for SPINE 2019, I hope to see more and more of these activities animating these incredible free community spaces and to see young people continuing to shift their perceptions of these spaces from “boring study space” to “a creative place where I want to be”.

If you’re an artist from any medium, consider applying for either the Lead or Emerging roles for SPINE 2019.