If you haven’t already listened you have 24 hours left to catch this fascinating programme on Radio 4 about the Keskidee centre, Britain’s first black arts centre. The programme is based on oral history interviews conducted by Alan Dein as part of the King’s Cross Voices project. I have been told anecdotally a number of times that despite its importance the records of the Keskidee centre were seen at the time of being of no interest to mainstream repositories and were destroyed. Indeed, the programme documents how the building’s current tenants had no idea of the building’s former use, although they had found various bits and pieces left lying around – books, records, props – all of which presumably was thrown in a skip. And certainly, what struck me about the programme was the total lack of archive material; no archive sound recordings and no suggestion that Dein had been able to access any sort of records. There’s no documentation either on the Internet, although it looks to me that if you have 1.8 million pounds to spare you might just be able to buy it. Meanwhile, you can still watch Bob Marley perform ‘Is this love’ outside the centre, perhaps the only remaining document that bears witness to the centre’s former life.
Catch the programme while you can!