Free mile-long party coming to Walthamstow this weekend

Kirsty McNeil from Artillery speaks to the minds behind one of many exciting attractions

Mbilla Arts are one of many local organisations performing at the party (credit: Mbilla Arts)
Mbilla Arts are one of many local organisations performing at the party (credit: Mbilla Arts)

A free street party will stretch for an entire mile through Walthamstow this Jubilee bank holiday weekend.

The Mile Long Street Party will take place on 5th June from 1pm to 7pm along Walthamstow High Street, featuring the work of numerous local creatives and organisations.

One of many attractions will be the Rhythm & Stories Tent, the result of a collaboration between two organisations who have shared a Walthamstow venue but never worked together before.

They are Mbilla Arts, an organisation for African drumming and dance, and Stories & Supper, a supper and storytelling club that “works to challenge the myths surrounding the migration crisis”. 

Stories & Supper, set up in 2019 (credit: Laura Martinez)

Mbilla Arts director Chantelle Michaux and Stories & Supper co-director Helen Taylor said the two groups both use Walthamstow’s Gnome House every Saturday but had never been formally introduced.

Chantelle said: “We both have strong elements of storytelling in what we do. Mbilla Arts doesn’t do lots of African storytelling per se but, with everything we do, there’s stories behind the dance and behind the rhythms that we teach.

“Lots of the artists, the concepts and the communities we work with are very similar. Although I hadn’t worked with Helen before, having seen her work, I knew that there was a fit.”

Helen added: “We find that the themes refugees want to write about in their poems and stories are universal. While there is some discussion about the asylum system and people’s journey’s, that is very much the minority of what people want to talk about.  

“They want to talk about food, friendship, nature and love. People want to have common shared experiences and so there’s definitely an overlap.”

The two organisations, who will stage a number of performances in their shared tent, were introduced by Artillery, organising the party due to their success running High Street ADVENTures at Christmas. 

Producer Laura Kerry said: “One of the most exciting elements of my job is introducing exceptional people to each other so they can do even more exceptional work together.” 

Visit here for a programme and up-to-date information about the event