Q&A | ‘Being high up creates conditions for people to imagine beyond their day-to-day lives’ - Museums Association

Q&A | ‘Being high up creates conditions for people to imagine beyond their day-to-day lives’

Bold Tendencies, the innovative annual art event in Peckham, has just relaunched its longstanding learning programme. Creative learning producer Misty Ingham talks through what the new programme entails
Misty Ingham in action, engaging kids and school groups who visit Bold Tendencies
Misty Ingham in action, engaging kids and school groups who visit Bold Tendencies Courtesy Bold Tendencies, Photo Deniz Guzel, 2023

Every summer, crowds of arty hipsters flood from Peckham Rye railway station, in South East London, across the road to the multi-storey car park on top of the cinema Peckhamplex. This annual pilgrimage has occurred for 16 years running, since the artistic endeavour Bold Tendencies was set up.

Utilising the top four storeys of an otherwise disused car park, Bold Tendencies was opened as a summer-long site-specific sculpture show of contemporary, often young, artists, with attached open-air bar and jaw-dropping views across London.

Art on a rooftop in Peckham draws crowds and engages local kids and communities © Bold Tendencies, Photo Donatienne Ferre

A not-for-profit organisation, the annual event was the result of talks between Hannah Barry Gallery and Southwark Council and opened in 2007.

Peckham is often under threat from developers ruining the organic and very diverse nature of the London town, so it was to great fanfare in 2017 that Bold Tendencies reached an agreement with Southwark Council for a new long-term lease. The car park was taken off the local area redevelopment plan, securing the future of the initiative, the building, and a core part of Peckham, central to its diverse vibe.

Though effortlessly trendy in its pop-up nature, Bold Tendencies has always had serious intentions at heart – to bring art to everyone – and has a long-established learning and community programme to do this.


This year sees their new Creative Learning Programme succeed the old event-based learning programme, and also sees the organisation offer paid roles for young people to get a foot in the door.

Another a new development this year is an extension of Bold Tendencies’ work year-round, thanks to funding from the Reimagine Grant from the Art Fund, which has enabled the organisation to develop a progamme for work off-site and out of season.

Misty Ingham, the creative learning producer at Bold Tendencies, is of Irish-Bermudian and Polish heritage and graduated from Goldsmiths College in 2017 with a degree in Education, Culture and Society. Interested in socially engaged practice, her portfolio includes collaborations with University of the Arts London, Theatre Peckham, Livesy Exchange and Coin Street Community Builders. 

She works full time for Bold Tendencies and freelance for other organisations including the Drawing Room Gallery.

When did Bold Tendencies learning programme begin and how has it evolved?

The Bold Tendencies learning programme began in 2014 and worked mainly with primary school children on special artist-led projects. Through cumulative learning, the programme has grown and now works with all ages and groups from schools to youth provisions, community organisations and more.


All our provisions are free and are inspired by the rich variety of subjects, materials and voices of artists on show at the car park this summer. We strive to mitigate barriers, allow space to imagine, create, and exercise the right to enjoy and appreciate the arts.

We invite and welcome local communities and constituents of all ages and backgrounds to experience the transformative capacities of live performance: to contribute to the dialogue and participate in the generation of ideas.

What’s your background?

I have lived in Peckham and Camberwell since I was 16, but previously lived in Nottingham. I came across Bold Tendencies in 2014 when they were launching their learning programme.

While in its early stages, I assisted in family workshops, in which the site was taken over with different artist-led workshops from painting to poetry, film screenings and more. It was like a giant studio for children – the architecture, tone and size of the space give freedom to create, imagine and build. Other projects such as My Museum, a child-led curatorial programme and Artists in Schools grew out of this work, bridging the gap between our network of artists and local schools.

Lots of local schools are already engaged with Bold Tendencies, as the organisation expands its engagement further with the new learning programme © Bold Tendencies
How has the learning programme changed?

Our new Creative Learning programme succeeded the old Education, Community & Play this year and is not simply about taking part or attending events but how we can support local, young people to develop their career through paid opportunities, embedding their voices in the organisation.


We have five paid part-time roles this season, in which they get to experience all elements of the organisation, from live events, creative learning, artwork maintenance and visitor engagement. These roles offer a foot in the door, to gain experience, develop skills and contribute to the programmes.

It’s that first opportunity that can impact your journey in this field, and there are many barriers that prevent people from even getting the chance. There are plenty of young people in Peckham who have a lot to offer if given the opportunity. It’s not just about who participates or the audience but also who’s in the team.

How have you built your relationship with local schools?

We get a lot of schools visiting, particularly primary schools in term time, as well as regular youth and community groups over the summer holidays, contributing to their programmes and activities. This has come out of spending time visiting and building relationships with these organisations and the people that are part of them, making people aware of what we do and offer. 

Over 2021 to 2022, we spent time visiting local schools and community organisations and identified 32 in our immediate neighbourhood in Southwark. This work helped us to strengthen and build new relationships, particularly with youth and community organisations such as the Somerville Youth Centre, the Nest and Spring Community Hub. 

Our offers are prioritised to those within a one-mile radius. This helps us to build familiarity with local constituents. Six weeks into the programme we have worked with seven primary schools, one secondary and three community and youth groups, totalling at 435 participants so far.

Young people and adults alike find being up high inspiring © Bold Tendencies
Any recent inspiring stories?

There’s not a particular story, but it’s the moments when children or adults who have never been before arrive at the rooftop. Most of them haven’t seen a view or perspective of London like this, especially not from their own area. Being this high up creates conditions for people to imagine beyond their day-to-day lives. The ideas and stories shared on-site always inspire me.

Another warming moment for me is when children come back to the site independently, leading their parents, or carers, on the journey there and hosting them in the space with a sense of ownership and pride. Over the past eight years, children I first worked with in 2015 are now returning as teenagers, taking part in performances and visiting with friends in a testament to the ongoing arch of engagement we look to nurture.

What’s your adult learning programme like?

It’s for all adults – with or without learning needs – we acknowledge that access to arts and culture is valuable at any moment of someone's life. We work a lot with senior groups, such as South London Cares, Coin Street Community Group and Copleston Community Church, it’s always so joyful and rich, they bring so much lived experience and knowledge, giving us different perspectives and insights to the programme.

What does Bold Tendencies bring to Peckham?

Bold Tendencies does not bring art to Peckham, because art and culture was always here anyway and remains so – we are not the holders of it – but what we do is provide the space to create, connect, enjoy and imagine beyond. We share our space to make art, share ideas, to have a creative experience. With the cost of living and housing crises, we recognise the need for space to provide a platform for moments of joy – that is why what we do is important.

What does the future hold?

Previously, the programme would end in September and the closed season would be focused on relationship building and listening activity. But at the beginning of this year, Bold Tendencies became a recipient of the Reimagine Grant from the Art Fund, enabling us to develop a blueprint for our work off-site and out of season. Artist Placements, a programme in which alumni artists are partnered with local groups and schools to deliver a cumulative series of off-site sessions, is a new initiative currently being delivered and made possible by this funding. This year, we will work with artists Paloma Proudfoot, Jeremy Deller and Harold Offeh, among others, paired up with local schools. 

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