Two things bring us together, one is a crisis and the other is creativity.

From art, music, drama, dance, poetry and storytelling, to design and food, every culture can be defined through creativity. And creativity and culture are, in combination, a powerful force for bringing people together.

A few weekends ago we saw the launch of the first Crouch End Literary Festival, it was a massive success. Due to the enthusiasm of locals, what started out as a modest idea in a coffee shop became 22 events, across eight venues, involving almost 100 people. It really brought the community together.

As a creative and a musician, I have always been fascinated by cultural differences, styles, rhythms and themes. It’s so enriching to listen beyond your usual playlist.

Several years ago we checked into a lovely hotel in Spain for a short break. The clerk looked worried, “I am sorry but we should have informed you there is a Samba drum festival next door tonight.”

While some guests might have been looking for their earplugs, we were delighted. Spanish Samba drum festivals are amazing, a combination of complex rhythms, dress and performance. Samba is a multi-cultural mix of Brazilian and African rhythms, but now very popular within Spanish culture. Everyone in the village was there.

Ham & High: Chris Arnold enjoys bringing people together through art and cultureChris Arnold enjoys bringing people together through art and culture (Image: Chris Arnold)

A new campaign, Explore Music More, is designed to encourage people, especially young musicians, to step outside their musical safety zone and explore different styles and cultures within music, from jazz, classical, electronic, experimental and fringe to music from different cultures. It’s a great way to meet new people but, more importantly, music brings us together, regardless of differences.

One of the joys of living in London is the melting point of culture and creativity, something we see a lot at the Crouch End Festival. From craft markets to performances, it’s that blend of different ideas, heritage and values that creates the new and unusual.

Last summer we had three days of live bands playing at St Mary’s Tower in Hornsey Village. Each day 200 to 300 people of every kind, from seven to 77, enjoyed the wide variety of music we put on. The Tower Music Festival brought together the local community and also benefited local pubs and restaurants. It’s what we call the three Cs – Creativity + Community + Local Commerce.

The Crouch End Festival has also helped create and define the local community, and is a contributing factor in Crouch End being selected as ‘Best place to live in London’. Over the years we have brought together lots of different creative people to work together.

There’s been a massive growth in community choirs since the pandemic as people are looking to join more and more communities, many around creativity like art, music, drama, and crafting.

This year Haringey is setting out its stall to be nominated as London Borough of Culture & Creativity for 2027. We have yet to see if we win, but it reflects the importance of culture and creativity in improving lives, improving wellbeing, creating communities and delivering a positive social impact.

  • Chris Arnold is co-founder and director of the Crouch End Festival and Crouch End Literary Festival.