The 10th annual Brockley MAX festival starts tomorrow, with the traditional opening night concert outside the Brockley Barge. This year's programme is dedicated to the memory of Gill Fraser, who worked tirelessly alongside organiser Moira Tait to stage previous festivals and who sadly passed away this year.
We asked Moira to tell us about this year's event.
How does this year’s festival compare to previous MAXes?
This is the biggest year yet with 67 events which is amazing considering Gill’s no longer with us. I feel is a testament to how much people love the festival and support it by holding events.
How many attendees are you expecting, across the festival programme?
Last year, we estimated over 4000 people came, but it is a difficult one to calculate as there are so many events to get round and do a quick head count. We do know that the website visits are double the number of last year so hopefully that’s a good indication of potential numbers.
What's different about the MAX this year? How is the festival evolving over time?
I’m really pleased we have several spoken word and poetry events this year as the festival has been short on them the last couple of years. However, the events at the Toad’s Mouth café (two of which are poetry) have had to be cancelled due to a death in the family, so we are looking for new venues as we speak.
Do keep an eye out for updates on the website and our Facebook site. I’m also very pleased that we have 3 photography exhibitions this year by the Brockley Photographers Group and curated by Darrell Morris.
In terms of evolution, the festival changes as people’s interests change. Because we are always so short of funding we have to rely on performers to offer to hold events, rather than the organising team dictating what happens. This I see as positive (although more money would be wonderful) as it means Brockley Max really is a community festival.
Which new performers and artists should MAX regulars look out for?
That’s always a difficult one to answer as there are so many good performers and events!
I would urge everyone to come to the Opening Night by Brockley station as we have some great acts this year. Jazz at The Orchard on 30 May looks great, the poetry events, The Mike King choir at St Hildas Church, and for film we have a Q&A with Sybil Phoenix after a documentary about her life and work.
We also have some great regular acts who are always popular – Peter Searles is back after a few years break with his Through Peru (now free at the Orchard), Shedload of Love at the Wickham Arms, Mazaika’s Peter and the Wolf children’s show followed by an evening performance at St Hilda’s, and the regular Brockleywood Nights.
And of course on Sunday at Jam Circus we have a Tribute to Gill, my co-organiser, with torch songs performed by Richard Swan, Anita Maj, Sarah Blair, Celia Byrne and Dan Maitland.
Who is the mysterious Dunwoody mentioned in the programme?
Who is Dunwoody indeed! Children will have to find clues dotted around Brockley to discover who he/she is. Their first clue will be on the Brockley Max website soon. And I have heard rumours though that Dunwoody may be at the Art In The Park on 4 June.
Has the MAX budget been hit by Lewisham Council cuts this year?
Certainly the Lewisham Arts Service funding has been cut, and there’s been no call for applications so far this year, to which I would have applied. And generally there are fewer funding sources for the arts, which is why Brockley Max would not have happened this year without the support of the Brockley, Ladywell and Crofton Park Locality funds.
We’ve also have financial support from several of our venues and when the festival is so short of money, every little bit helps. I’m about £1000 down at the moment so please support the festival and buy raffle tickets! I’m also putting in applications for the Mayors Fund for next year’s festival, so make sure you come to the Local Assembly meetings later in the year and vote for us.
Why is there no Hilly Fields concert this year and what how will you replace its role as the climax of the festival?
The lack of a Hilly Fields concert is purely down to money. I’ve a third of the funding this year compared to last and an event such as last year costs in the region of £13000.
We will be holding the Art In The Park on 4 June from 12-5pm which we have done so for many years with children’s art workshops, dance and acoustic music , the Jam Circus bar, food stalls and an art market so there’s plenty to see and do. (And we still need volunteers!) I think having events at several venues for the closing night will give people a bigger choice and at the same time supporting our sponsors. And I’ll be trying to get round to all of them!
What are you most looking forward to this year?
In a bitter sweet way I’m looking forward most to Gill’s tribute night as a way of remembering an incredible woman who was my friend as well as my co-organiser. She loved Brockley Max, the arts and this community so it would be great to see as many people there as possible.