Bibliobuzz 2020 – message from Louise Stewart

This Saturday, 16 May, sees the culmination of the 2020 Alexandra Palace Children’s Book Awards – known as Biblio-buzz.

Hundreds of local children have read six fantastic short-listed books and voted for their favourites. The winner will be announced online by the current Waterstones Children’s Laureate, Cressida Cowell.

Of course, this was not the original plan. Last year, the winner was announced by Michael Rosen at an event in Alexandra Palace Theatre, with over 600 children in attendance. It was a joyous, wonderful event, genuinely one of the highlights of the Theatre’s first full season.

We were planning something bigger and even better for this year, including performances and appearances from John Agard, Tabago Crusoe, Cressida Cowell and Michael Rosen, but of course plans had to change due to the lock down. Our Creative Learning team worked quickly to move the event online, allowing children to hear each of the short-listed authors read excerpts from their book and complete creative challenges.

We also commissioned a host of artists, illustrators and crafts makers to put creative activities online to mark the award, including Art Director and Puppeteer Jenny Dee – who originally created the story den which toured Haringey libraries as part of the project. The response has been heartwarmingly positive, leading to more local children, schools and families being able to access and engage with the programme.

Alexandra Palace is so much more than an events venue. It is a much-loved local landmark and valued green open space. It is a place of creativity, learning and fun. Ultimately, Alexandra Palace belongs to everyone, and we want as wide a range of people as possible to benefit from and enjoy it.

Biblio-buzz was founded by a group of dedicated Haringey School librarians to encourage a love of reading for pleasure, especially in the core age group of 9-12 years. We were delighted to partner with them to help broaden the reach of the project. Now it has over two months of build up activity, including exciting workshops, activities and performances touring all nine libraries in Haringey and reading tea parties to bring young readers together.

We don’t know how long Alexandra Palace will be closed, and not all of our activities can be delivered digitally in the same way Bibliobuzz was transformed to an online programme and event in a matter of days. But creative learning is core to who we are as a charity, and we want to continue to expand our programme and impact. This includes growing our volunteering programme, delivering more exhibitions based on our archive, strengthening our support for older and disabled people, as well as a broad range of creative learning activity.

Our programme has been largely funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund, and Biblio-buzz was made possible thanks to additional grants from Tottenham Grammar School Foundation and Arts Council England. We also supported it through our own resources, including the skills and time of our event team, for example, who deliver so much more than the ticketed concerts or exhibitions.

Much of this is now at risk because of the lockdown – not only are people unable to physically access Alexandra Palace, but the money we earn through events and activities on site, that is normally put back into the charity, has been lost, which makes the future look much less certain.

As a charity we rely on donations from charitable foundations and the public. Donations from the public right now will help us to keep going through this lockdown ready to emerge in the best possible shape to do what we do best again. To make a donation to support our charitable activities, please click here

I feel an immense pride as Chief Executive of an organisation that has such a dedicated team and a deep commitment to making Alexandra Park and Palace welcoming and relevant, no matter your age or background. If you are a regular or occasional visitor to Alexandra Palace, or just interested in what we do, and you can afford to make a donation, please support us.

We need your support now more than ever.

Please stay safe, and we look forward to welcoming you back to Alexandra Palace as soon as possible.

Thank you,

Louise Stewart
Alexandra Park & Palace Charitable Trust