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Press Release: Waterloo Festival 2020 goes virtual!

This year’s Waterloo Festival, originally scheduled to take place in and around St John’s Waterloo over three weeks in June, is going ahead online. The digital festival will be a celebration of the arts, community and heritage of Waterloo and the South Bank and will run from 27th of April until 28th June 2020.

The theme of the festival, Transforming Communities, was decided long before the public health crisis but has now acquired a new digital dimension. It will include a premier performance of a multi-voice composition sourced from public contributions, an exploration of the history of homelessness in Waterloo, a Coin Street Community and Illuminated Bridges art project and a series of writings and music on the theme of freedom of the press.

St John's Churchyard (David Bassadone) (featuring La La Land by Peter Avery)

Artistic Director Euchar Gravina said:

“The Waterloo Festival is a celebration of our neighbourhood as a creative place. It’s about co-programming and co-production with the artists, performers, galleries, collectives and communities of Waterloo. It’s about introducing people to creative possibilities all around them and it’s about everyone having an opportunity to join in – including coming together live online.”

Call for contributions

“We may not be able to gather in person but we’ll be bringing people together on our Waterloo Festival website and social media channels. The website will be continually updated with new content between now and the end of June and anyone who has ideas for contributions - we want to hear from you! Email us on with the subject line ‘Online Festival Submission’.”

Unique website design

The festival website has been designed by Helen Ralli who runs Hart Club, a gallery that champions neurodiversity in the arts. The website uses illustrations and a special font commissioned from one of Hart Club’s artists, David Bassadone (71) who has been drawing since he was 12 and uses his photographic memory to make extraordinarily detailed pictures of cities and industrial landscapes.

Programme highlights

In a first for the Festival, members of the public will be invited to contribute to a digital rendition of experimental American composer La Monte Young’s Composition 1960 #7 with performance artist Rita Says and the Jerico Orchestra. The piece comprises a continuous drone made from multiple voice recordings. A community outdoor sculpture exhibition, planned for St John’s churchyard, will now be curated online by Coin Street Community’s Anna Glarin and Eleanor Watson.

Later in June there will be an exploration of Cardboard City and the history of homelessness in Waterloo with Cardboard Citizens. Discussions on intersectionality in the LGBTQ+ community are also scheduled for June, Pride month.

Local collaborators include Morley College, who will be podcasting from the Festival, Art4Minds who will be working with local youth forums, Southbank Sinfonia, and the Ernest Read Symphony Orchestra.

Louise Ioannou of lead sponsor HB Reavis said: “The Waterloo Festival plays a very special role in supporting and celebrating this fantastic part of London. That’s why, as part of our work to help make Waterloo an even better place to live, work and visit, we are proud to be its champion for the third year. The festival now seems more important than ever in giving people reason to be hopeful and to celebrate.”

Chairman of Waterloo Festival and vicar of St John’s, Canon Giles Goddard concluded:

“Back in 1951, our home – St John’s Waterloo – was rebuilt as The Church of The Festival of Britain. That festival, organised only six years after the end of WWII at a time of rationing, austerity and low spirits, was intended as a ‘tonic for the nation’. Working together, we believe that the communities of the South Bank and Waterloo can once again make our neighbourhood a focus for renewal.”

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For further information and images, please contact Eilidh Duffy, Communications Officer at, or Beth McHattie, Communications Consultant, at / 07388 381611

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