Brockwell Park is sacred ground to us, supporting our mad Mighty Hoopla moments year in and year out, so it’s important for us to give back to the beautiful green grass of the park as well as organisations and groups in the surrounding area.
Every year, we launch The Brockwell Live Community Fund, which helps fund local projects that benefit and impact the community. We are so proud that we raised, with your help, £42,000 for 18 local organisations – bloody lovely stuff!
Here’s an exclusive interview with one organisation that has benefited directly from The Brockwell Live Community Fund, the incredible People’s Piano based in Herne Hill.
Enjoy, share, and be sure to support this amazing group where you can!
What is The People’s Piano?
The People’s Piano is an upright piano that is open for the community to play. It lives in the underpass next to Herne Hill train station and it is cared for by a team of local volunteer Piano Custodians who open and close it on certain days. The current piano was paid for out of donations from the local community following a successful crowdfunding campaign in 2016. It really does belong to the People.
HOW WAS THE IDEA CREATED?
It came about originally as part of creating a vibrant newly created Station Square. Originally it was agreed to test it for two weeks to see if anyone was interested in playing it or if it would be popular. It was saturated with amazing piano players within hours of being installed. It is known as a smile generator as so many people walk by, hear the music and a smile starts to spread across their face.
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO YOU TO HARNESS A SENSE OF COMMUNITY IN THE IN THE LOCAL AREA AND HOW AS THIS PROJECT ASSISTED YOU WITH THAT?
The Herne Hill Forum exists to make our neighbourhood a better place and we could not achieve this aim without the involvement of the local community. We are volunteer-led and made up of local residents and traders. Everything we do is about harnessing a sense of community in Herne Hill. The People’s Piano is just one of the many projects we have delivered and the piano is now a well-known and well-loved member of our community. It even has its own twitter account: @hernehillpiano. People travel from all over the South East to come and play and we have regular pianists who drop in and perform. There’s no booking system and people of all abilities are welcome, but sometimes we do get incredible performances which can cause quite a stir! As Christmas approaches we also have choirs dropping by and using the piano to accompany their singing. The piano is a great community asset as not everybody has room for one in their home.
HOW HAS THE BROCKWELL PARKCOMMUNITY FUND HELPED YOUR PROJECT?
Due to the popularity of the piano, it does suffer from wear and tear. The original paint job was by a graffiti artist called Tizer but over the years his artwork has been “added to ” and the piano is looking a bit shabby. The Brockwell Live fund means we can repaint the piano and we have enlisted the help of local artist Mr Dane to come up with some ideas. It’s not only the paint that has suffered – due to some over-enthusiastic playing (!) we often need to replace strings and the cost of this adds up over time. Also the location in the tunnel is great for giving some cover but the piano is still open to the elements and needs regular tuning. The Brockwell Live fund will help towards these maintenance costs, and keep the music flowing.
HOW CAN OUR COMMUNITY SUPPORT YOU?
The Brockwell Live team has supported us in the past with other local projects, such as renovating the large mural under the railway bridge. We will always have a need for funding and so your community can support us by continuing to raise funds through the festivals and offering it to local groups. If any of your musicians fancy a tinkle, then don’t forget to tag the piano so we know they’ve been @hernehillpiano. And if anybody wants to volunteer as a Piano Custodian, do get in touch!