Hackney MP Diane Abbott tours Hackney Downs Studios
Last week, we were fortunate enough to host local MP Diane Abbott here at Hackney Downs Studios for a tour of our ever evolving studio spaces. Diane has been the Member of Parliament for Hackney North and Stoke Newington since 1987, and is a true champion of the local area. After catching word of the new studios development work being done at Hackney Downs Studios, Diane decided she would like to take a look around the new spaces, as well as meet the current residents that call our studios home.
Keenly interested in how the studio spaces fuel growth for businesses in the local area, and how they are helping the people of Hackney North and Stoke Newington, Diane got a chance to meet and discuss a broad selection of topics with creatives on the day.
Theatre company in residence The Big House had Diane wondering how young people in the community develop and express themselves through theatre and the performing arts. Founder Maggie Norris confirmed that their mission is “keeping the young people away from one ‘big house’ - that is inherently destructive to their personal growth - and giving them a chance to learn to be open creatively in our Big House.” Diane couldn’t wait to attend future productions in the new Hackney Showroom, opening on March 21st this year at Hackney Downs Studios.
During Diane’s meeting with The Forge, she discovered that they were taking one of the new builds as a second space. Diane was interested in why they saw Hackney Downs Studios as the ideal place to grow their business? Founder Jean-Michel Massey stated “It’s all about the community and the network you get to tap into, it just makes getting up and going to work a lot easier.”
Resident magazine The Dalstonist was the next stop on the tour of our studios. Flipping through last month’s issue, creator of The Dalstonist, Mark Wilding, couldn’t help by try to get a quote on upcoming parliamentary issues. Diane kept things very professional, before alluding to the changing face of Dalston surprising her. Her son would often come and visit her home in Dalston many years ago and wonder “who are all these new people moving in to Dalston, mum?” To which Mark humorously replied “those are probably most of my readers!”
Passing through our Village Green, Diane made sure to ask how footfall was for all of the businesses there. After expressing that the businesses were going from strength to strength, Diane stated “it’s amazing to see such a collection of shops serving this diverse community.”
Sandra Dieckmann’s studio visit saw a goodie bag of prints, tea towels and postcards presented to Diane. Sandra’s partly-graphic illustrations focus on animals and nature, with a thick splash of dreams added in for good measure. Her illustrations walk the line between children’s storybook and nature textbook, which really struck a chord with Diane.
Being one of the longest standing residents, Moshi Moshi’s studio was a perfect location to tell the journey that Hackney Downs Studios has gone through over the years. Diane couldn’t help but ask how things had changed in the area. “It’s incredible to see how much things have changed, come summer time the place is so alive with creative energy, it’s just infectious.”
Diane felt that that the Hackney Downs community is an “amazing and sustainable project” that offers great value to the area. Finishing the tour with a quiet drink in our local cafe The Russet, Diane expressed her excitement to return once all the new spaces where built.