Interview with James Scotland

A free outdoor spectacular celebrating diversity in the arts, The Sunday Art Club is a multi-disciplinary festival which will immerse audiences in the joy of live performance this September. The festival will be socially distanced in Shoreditch as well as streamed online so everyone can enjoy its electrifying range of theatre, jazz, film and visual art installations. I spoke with James Scotland, co-founder of Black-led theatre company Khaos and co-curator of The Sunday Art Club,  to find out more about this unique pop-up festival 

How did you first get into the arts?
I joined the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain in 2008 where I cut my teeth as an actor. I loved the world I was entering but also struggled to keep up with it. It served as a crash course into the theatre profession where I found myself acting in the West End, thrust into a debut at the Arts Theatre followed by a run at the National Theatre; premiering Michael Leslie’s ‘Prince of Denmark’. It was a lot. That lucky experience imbued me with a sense of perspicacity that I was to take to Drama school and later into Khaos.

Can you tell me about The Sunday Art Club?
The Sunday Art Club (TSAC) is an exciting offering of arts and culture in Shoreditch, providing entertainment and light-relief in the aftermath of Covid-19, and doubling as a functional not-for-profit platform for artists to be seen. 

TSAC is a celebration of all the talent that London has to offer; a platform that is at its richest the more diverse the crowds are that attend.

What was the inspiration behind the idea?
The idea is the brainchild of Trix Mendez, Artistic Director of Outside The Zone gallery. He was inspired to develop a strong network of artists that could collaborate with each other and cultivate an eco-system that served multi-disciplinary artists. In response to COVID-19, we both had a desire to focus on artistic creativity which was more important now more than ever. The Sunday Art Club became the perfect vehicle to do that. 

What can audiences expect?
Audiences can expect a very eclectic line-up of artists each month comprised of both established and emerging performers. The programme at The Sunday Art Club (TSAC) will always be dictated by the Art and so the focus may be live music one month and visual arts another. This coming Sunday 30th August will be carnival themed in homage to the Notting Hill Carnival aptly being cancelled in light of Covid-19. Expect impromptu dance and music brimming with Caribbean, Jazz and Afro-Spanish culture.

How have you been coping in lockdown? 
I really can’t complain, I’ve one of the privileged. Early on, I tried to find solace in the uncertainty of it all and focus more on what was actually possible. And before TSAC became the focus (which has since kept me very busy), I found sanity in the re-evaluation of work I planned to stage. I love nothing more than to contemplate such things…

What would you like The Sunday Art Club to achieve?
I’d like The Sunday Art Club to become the hub for London art and an eco-system which is both commercially viable and artistically fulfilling. With the future of art and live events in question, it’s very important that we re-build as we mean to go on and champion performances on a more intimate scale.

The Sunday Art Club runs on 27 September.

Photo credit: Jasmina Haskovic

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