How Acomb’s ADAM Festival sees hope rising in the west

Ned Lunn, left, and Keith Myers, right, with ADAM Festival supporters
16 Jul 2013 @ 9.09 am
| Entertainment

Ned Lunn, left, and Keith Myers, right, with ADAM Festival supporters
Ned Lunn, left, and Keith Myers, right, with ADAM Festival supporters
ned-lunn-headshot

This weekend sees Acomb’s first ADAM Festival. Ned Lunn explains why this could inspire a new start for the suburb

When you want to sit and enjoy good live music or see a great piece of theatre or even float round an art exhibition you’d probably look to the centre of our great city.

Acomb, situated on the fringe of York to the west, would probably not even be in your top five places to look but we have felt a call to change all that.

Keith Myers and I have joined together to create the first ADAM Festival. ADAM stands for Acomb Dance Arts and Music and was the brainchild of Keith. Having chaired Friends of Acomb Green for the last few years and organised the annual Summer Fair and the Christmas Lights as well as regenerating the Green in Acomb, Keith felt the need to build the profile of the whole of Acomb.

Last year there was a newspaper article suggesting that Acomb was a place of lazy vandals with no good prospects. Having lived in Acomb for most of his life, Keith felt this perception needed challenging head on.

He came up with the idea for an arts festival to use all the potential venues down Front Street in Acomb. The Methodist Church stands at one end and the Gateway Centre at the other. In between these two stand four others. Keith set up a Twitter account (@adam_festival) and asked for help and support.

As one of the Anglican ministers in Acomb, I picked up the call. Before training for the priesthood, I ran a theatre company for more than seven years and worked on a number a festivals in London and Kent. I had been in Acomb for five months and had immediately felt called to bring hope to an area that had begun to listen to the stories told about it from those outside.

Looking across Acomb Green to the Sun Inn. Photograph: © Copyright Gordon Hatton and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
Looking across Acomb Green to the Sun Inn. Photograph: © Copyright Gordon Hatton and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
Front Street, Acomb, viewed from Green Lane. Photograph: © Copyright Betty Longbottom and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
Front Street, Acomb, viewed from Green Lane. Photograph: © Copyright Betty Longbottom and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
Mulholland, one of many acts playing the ADAM Festival
Mulholland, one of many acts playing the ADAM Festival

I arrived with friends from York telling me that Acomb was “rough”, “dodgy” and “poor”. There were horror stories about crime, drugs and hereditary unemployment. These stories didn’t match with what I experienced as I walked the streets and met the residents.

With my experience in events management and arts programming and Keith’s passion and networking in local community work, we have come up with what’s being hailed as “the biggest event Acomb has ever seen!” But despite running for only one day (well six hours to be precise) Keith and I are keen for it to have a long term legacy of showing Acomb what it can be and do.

With 15 indoor venues and three outdoor busking slots ADAM Festival shows off the potential to house and encourage new art from Acomb and all over the city.

We want to see theatre companies considering Acomb as a place to try out new shows before heading into town for full runs. We want bands to consider The Sun Inn, Gateway Centre and Café 71 for gigs.

We want to see artists come and ask to use some of our empty shops as studio space and exhibition space. In short, we want to see Acomb as a place to go to for exciting experiences and encounters with other people.

It’s set to be a great day packed full of acts from Grand Old Uke Of York and Mulholland to New Generation Singing Club. Tanya Anderson is teaching Zumba, there’s the Mazizik dance troupe, while Henry Raby, Ross Meikle and Tony Vino will all wow you with words.

More than that, ADAM Festival wants to inspire Acomb residents to see the opportunities to connect with others and to engage with the community around them.

Keith Myers is already working on some ideas to encourage businesses to take Acomb seriously and I am trying to bring all the community groups together to create an Acomb Village group. This will serve the whole area and promote events, and create a shared ethos for this often neglected area of York which is packed full of potential.

We want Acomb residents to believe in hope, to see the beauty and strength all around them. We want all of us from this part of York to feel proud of our home and be known as a place of surprising beauty.

And we recommend you come and see what’s going on in Acomb and get involved.