Rabbits Road Institute is a public space for community, educational and creative activity, set up by The Alternative School of Economics in Manor Park, East London.
The Institute draws on the history of the Old Manor Park Library building in which it is situated, celebrating the Free Public Library and Worker’s Education Movements by creating an open space dedicated to self-education and independent thought. It aims to promote the development of culture, ideas and debate through everyday knowledge and experience. It is a place for new ways of thinking and creating inspiring activities that are open to all.
The Institute was initiated by The Alternative School of Economics, but is continuing as a public space for 7 years, hosting different artists’ residencies and operating as a community space.
Before founding the Institute, we spent sixth months researching the area and getting to know Manor Park and its communities. We devised a concept and ethos for what the space is and how it might function, and chose the title Rabbits Road Institute after the colloquial name for the former Carnegie library. Our concept for the Institute has three strands:
Creative – Rabbits Road Institute is conceived as an artist-led space, where artists and local community groups can collaborate or work alongside each other.
Education – Rabbits Road Institute supports education and self-education as a way to empower and learn.
Community – As a public space, Rabbits Road Institute offers an open invitation to use the space for regular or one-off activities. It is activated by regular and one off events by and for the local community.
Rabbits Road Institute opened in Nov 2015, and we programmed the first year of workshops, talks, events, film screenings and exhibitions. We developed a series of projects discussing, learning about and re-thinking economic issues that are relevant and prescient with the community groups and individuals we met and collaborated with in Manor Park.
Rabbits Road Institute was a commission by Create London in 2015-2016, funded by the Arts Council England and London Borough of Newham.