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‘A Local Dialogue’ is a platform for the work artist Sadia Ur-Rehman does with people and communities. Conceived in late 2010, A Local Dialogue is an experimental approach to working with words and language for a project that inspires residents of particular local areas to explore their locality. Creating a space for discussion and conversation, A Local Dialogue enables people to explore their relationships to their neighbourhood/ local area through the exploration of identity and place.

The project at the Marks Gate Estate in Barking & Dagenham in 2014 was originally part of the Neighbourhood Commissions strand of the Arts Council funded programme ‘Creative Barking & Dagenham’. The commission placed artists at the heart of communities in the borough, engaging with people and place on an intimate level over a period of 6 months and with a depth of focus, responding to local priorities and testing out different models of co-creation. Sadia worked closely with the communities of Marks Gate from May till October 2014 to create art in their neighbourhood, instigated by the people living there; the project aims to challenge preconceptions about where art takes place and who it’s by, and for.

In April 2015 after receiving some funding from the Arts Council England , Sadia was back on Marks Gate and launched the Creative Cafe (CC) on Marks Gate, a pop-up cafe, gallery and creative workspace after spending a month transforming a space within the Marks Gate Community Centre with local residents. The CC was open for 5 months offering a new creative activity on each day of opening. The project in 2015 engaged 959 local residents.

In 2016 we were able to relaunch the Creative Café for nine months from May to January 2017. We engaged a total of 2000 people during the 9 months, becoming a vital resource and arts hub to the Chadwell Heath community.

In the summer of 2018 we delivered a series of pop-up family events during the summer holidays to re-engage with families who had previously attended the Creative Café during 2015-17 and also build relationships with new families and residents. After a very successful series of pop-ups on Marks Gate, it is clear that there is still a big need for the CC on the estate.

We have registered with the Aviva Community Fund to bring back the Creative Cafe to Marks Gate in 2019. The fund gives out funding to local projects that are making a positive change in their community. We’ve applied for funding in the Health and Wellbeing category and if successful we will relaunch the Creative Cafe for a whole year, running once a week from the Marks Gate Community Centre. Voting ends on 20th November 2018. To vote for the project click here.