Connect and Celebrate your Community with SouthWestFest
SouthWestFest is a community festival for south Westminster, showcasing culture, community and heritage through fun activities and engaging events for all ages.
Founded in 2008, we are a community led charity and our trustees, staff and volunteers are passionate about promoting and celebrating our incredible and diverse community. We have a long history of working with arts, culture, entertainment, health, education, sports and leisure partners in the south Westminster area.
Our framework for the festival programme is to work with local partners, artists and practitioners to plan events, workshops and activities which change each year and will continue to engage and inspire residents to come out and take part. We do this through both a curated programme of themed festival events, alongside an open access programme of partner events.
Activate: Our programme of themed in-house events and commissioned projects including our large scale outdoor festival weekend events, create a ‘hook’ which activates audiences and inspires them to take part in the wider festival programme.
Collaborate: Through our open access festival programme we collaborate with and showcase the work of our 70+ partner organisations and groups. We endeavour to develop and maintain good relationships and always look for opportunities to create new ones.
Promote: Through promotion and celebration of the festival programme, the festival acts as a tool for our partners, to increase awareness of their venues, services, products and programmes to new audiences across the area.
Enable: We aim to create safe, inclusive and accessible spaces to offer our festival activities, reduce barriers to attainment, and enable residents to take part.
Inspire: We aim to inspire and engage our audiences and participants to try new creative, and cultural activities promoted alongside our festival partners, encouraging ongoing engagement with our partners’ services.
Through this work we support, empower and facilitate grassroots community action and leadership, enabling the people and groups we work with to create innovative projects, engaging events, positive placemaking experiences and opportunities for their communities.
Meet the team
Catherine Drake Wilkes
Catherine has worked in Pimlico with the Sure Start Children’s Centres since 2003 and is now the manager of Bessborough Family Hub. Catherine has been involved with SouthWestFest in many different ways through the years and stepped up to be the Chair in 2015. For Catherine, the best things about being part of SouthWestFest are the sense of community and being able to give more people the chance to participate in the many opportunities on offer in SW1.
Dodie joined the festival team in 2018 and became the new Festival Director at the end of 2021. She has seen the festival through its most turbulent times and is looking forward to continuing to work with all our volunteers, partners and participants and lead the festival into its new phase.
Outside of SouthWestFest she has worked for the past 5 years as a freelance Producer with cross-artform projects from theatre, to music, to events as well as being an artist and actor.
Kaya La Bonté-Hurst
Kaya joined the Festival in late 2023, ready to support the planning for SouthWestFest 2024.
Kaya is a freelance project manager, producer, events and production manager. Her experience spans from being a musician on stage to stage managing shows to producing and project managing public programmes for artists and arts organisations across London and UK. She loves working with communities, artists and tight-knit teams to bring together incredible events and festivals.
From Kaya: ‘I’m really excited to work with the SouthWestFest team and the communities they centre, to bring forward a diverse and rich festival programme in 2024.
Sara Wheeler MBE
Sara has been a Trustee for SouthWestFest for several years, and as a lifelong Pimlico resident she has fond childhood memories of the old Pimlico Festival: that’s what drew her to getting involved.
A married mother of three, Sara works for the Department for International Trade in Whitehall. She looks forward to the Festival each year and involves herself in as many of the different events as possible. Sara feels that Festival Day is the one day of the year that brings the whole community in South Westminster together. SouthWestFest is a unique and special festival that evolves each year with a mix of old favourites and fresh new ideas.
Jane was the Chair of the festival for many years. After stepping down as the Chair of the festival, we honoured Jane’s many years of hard work and volunteering at the festival by giving her the title of Festival President. She continues to sing onstage at every Proms event and help us raise the money needed each year to put the festival on.
Pat got involved with SouthWestFest many years ago, through her work as Outreach Manager for what was then known as Sure Start South Westminster. Although she has since stopped working in Westminster she is still committed to the families of the South. For Pat, the Festival is a favourite time of year, giving her a chance to reconnect with the many children she has worked with in the area over the years.
Aaron has worked as Community Learning Officer at Westminster Abbey for nearly five years, organising events and activities for families and community organisations. Aaron joined the festival team as a new Trustee in 2020. “I’ve loved sharing the atmosphere of the festival days each summer – so I’m really thrilled to be joining this fabulous community festival just when south Westminster needs us most of all.”
Sarah work’s at the Project Development Manager for the Pimlico Musical Foundation and first got involved with the festival through taking part in partner events. Sarah joined SouthWestFest as a new Trustee in 2020. “I’m very excited about joining the board of SouthWestFest. The festival promotes a true sense of connection within the community and encourages everyone to celebrate their own creativity. “
Laura owns and runs a local business called Occasions, which is a party shop specialising in balloons, party entertainment and costumes. Laura has been involved helping at the festival for as long as she can remember, and especially loves to help at our children’s events providing face painting, entertainers and games for all to enjoy.
Can you join SouthWestFest is raising much-needed funds for our community arts festival?
It is only through generous donations that we are able to continue to annually bring our free and low-cost events to the local community and support the talent and organisations in SW1
SouthWestFest | Registered Charity Number: 112484