A programme of art, culture and new infrastructure to reimagine the future of the UK’s biggest council housing estate

London Borough of Barking & Dagenham

Woodward Arts and Culture Centre

Woodward Road

September 2023

Barking and Dagenham Council has been awarded a capital grant from Arts Council England to redevelop the old library on Woodward Road, Becontree Estate into a new community arts and culture centre. It will build on the legacy of the Arts and Culture Hub at Valence Library, which was a base for Becontree Forever and Becontree Broadcasting Station through the centenary.

Woodward Library – the first library built on the estate – will become a base for the future programme. The library will be a central arts and digital hub currently lacking on the Becontree Estate or in the wider Dagenham area.

The library will be redeveloped to have a fully accessible ground floor space that is welcoming to all in the local community and beyond. A building next to the library will be built to provide affordable work and studio spaces to creative practitioners in exchange for leading community-based activities for estate and borough residents, both on site and directly in the community.

The centre will be part of the borough’s Safe Spaces initiative, allowing young residents free and unquestioned access at designated after-school hours throughout the year.

Other planned uses for the arts centre will include:

  • A permanent base for Becontree Broadcasting Station.

  • A creative digital hub space providing much needed digital access and skills training for artists, cultural practitioners and residents.

  • Rehearsal, exhibition and performance space for community groups and socially engaged practitioners and artists to develop new work that emerges directly from the experiences of residents of the area, both past and present.

  • Public realm seating and a sustainable community garden.

  • A community kitchen to be used by core cultural partners and artists.

  • Workshop spaces for community-based programming that are bookable by individual residents and local cultural organisations.

Get Involved!

We’ve arranged a site visit to the old library and drop-in sessions for residents and community organisations on Wednesday 9 November. To find out more and register your interest, click here.

We want to work with local organisations and residents to build an exciting programme of cultural activity for the centre. If you want to find out more or have any ideas about ways to use the space, please contact the Woodward Centre's Programme Manager, Lewis Toumazou at lewis.toumazou@lbbd.gov.uk

Woodward Road

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This project has been funded by Arts Council England's National Lottery Projects Grant.