Danielle (Danni) O'Shaughnessy
I set up The Village New Malden webpage and fb group in January 2018, at the time I was nursing a broken heart and similarly my hometown of New Malden felt lifeless to me. Having grown up in an era when community and arts centres were integral parts of every town, I longed for such a hub in my area. I intuitively knew it would help me (and others like me) through the healing process and recover from what was a very difficult and painful time in my life.
I have been involved in community arts since my childhood and I had spent a good 14 years in Kingston and New Malden working and volunteering on parades, festivals, workshops, environmental campaigns and community consultations, so much so that I felt I needed a home for all this experience; an art centre to focus my work in seemed like a good idea, but soon I realised it wasn't the place that actually mattered it was the people that I needed most. So I set about developing links to build upon a supportive, creative, vibrant network around me, and fours years later I am delighted to say that I feel I am succeeding. I have made links with wonderful people in the spheres of art, music, environmentalism, voluntary organisations and business. I developed these while working as a freelance arts events organiser, live music promoter for cirKT, community engagement manager for Kingston Charitable Foundation, director of The Hive Kingston- climate emergency centre and community connector for New Malden Town Centre Partnership.
I am also pleased to say that thanks to the hard work and great efforts of local people we now have The Korean arts centre on New Malden High Street, Sq1community café in our Environment Centre, a regular live music night at The Place Café and an event space in Jubilee Square on Cocks Crescent.
I sometimes need to pinch myself when I think about how much has materialised despite the pandemic and I continue to dream about how things will be when these relatively new projects are more settled, full of thriving activity and expanding out further into the wider community as they go from strength to strength, creating a strong sense of interconnectedness- a creative village.
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