Description

Watermans is an exquisitely situated on the banks of the River Thames, overlooking Kew Palace and the grounds of Kew Gardens.

It's a lively arts venue with a busy café bar and restaurant that incorporates a bijou theatre, arts cinema and digital media gallery. The venue is visited by over 100,000 people a year.

Watermans presents an eclectic mix of performances, exhibitions, films, comedy and other events in its riverside venue. It also engages with a wide range of communities across Hounslow and West London through its extensive programme of participative arts.

Watermans has a strong community focus which is progressive with a contemporary perspective that is constantly evolving. It aims to be inclusive, providing easy access and particularly welcoming to people who feel most excluded like refugee groups, disabled people, people with young children and those with learning difficulties or mental health issues. The venue also hosts the legendary Moon River Club Night – one of Europe's largest clubs for people with learning difficulties. Watermans is currently collaborating with Arts Educational Schools on a new programme to identify and develop talent in young people.

We have an active children's programme with regular theatre, half term events and Christmas show. It's Pandemonium and Drama Zone workshops encouraging learning among young people have become institutions.

Watermans is especially acknowledged as a national leader in the promotion of British Asian arts, having pioneered many developments in this area. It's commitment to green arts, is reflected through the annual Sonic Recycler series that showcases the many different strands of eclectic ideas in music, based on the idea of recycling!

Other special events include: Literature Lounge, a spoken word evening and regular classical and popular dance workshops. Watermans is also a key partner in many Londonwide seasons including: Open Rehearsal, India Now, Big Dance Week and the Cultural Olympiad.

Visitors can come to the venue to see a variety of shows, wander in the gallery, or just to have a drink, or a meal at the Guru Tandoori. The venue has onsite parking and wheelchair access. The venue is a registered charity and is managed by the Hounslow Arts Trust.

We hope you find Watermans welcoming, surprising, interesting and open-minded.

History

Watermans opened in 1984 and the very first event in the theatre was a concert by India's leading sitar player, Ravi Shankar. The idea for a centre to make good quality arts available to West London was the vision of Chiswick based actor, Peter Howells, shared by Hounslow Borough Council.

The venue was ideal for showcasing the best of small scale touring theatre and companies such as Shared Experience, Complicitè, and Red Shift. International theatre including productions part of the London International Festival of Theatre, were also staged. This tradition continues today with productions such as
Monsieur Ibrahim and the Flowers of the Qur'an by Dialogue Productions and Gertrude's Secret by Pure Bedlam Productions.

During the 1990s, the venue began prioritizing the development of Asian arts, beginning with bhangra concerts, dance performances & workshops, and later theatre, music, comedy & participative arts.

Some of the many individuals who honed their craft at Watermans include, Sanjeev Bhasker along with actress, Nina Wadia (currently in Eastenders), at a time when Asian comedy was considered an “alternative” activity. Comedians Shazia Mirza, Paul Chowdhury & Jeff Mirza are regular visitors, who test drive their Edinburgh material in front of a supportive audience. Comedy & Curry season is now an integral part of the programme.

Watermans has been a pioneer in developing British Asian theatre along with profiling international companies such as Platform theatre and Primetime Theatre Company. South Asian Language theatre is also a key programming area.

From the outset, Watermans gallery has provided a focus for visual and new media arts in West London. A recent commissioned work, Straitjacket Embrace was shortlisted for the Prix Ars Electronica 2008 while Signs of the City: Metropolis Speaking is a year long European youth media art project that pushes the boundaries of ‘participation' in art practice is currently showing.

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