by Ellis M

Rich Mix is a cultural charity that brings cinema, performing arts and music to the East of London and is supported by Arts Council England. I stumbled across a beautiful exhibition as part of the AWAN Festival ‘Arab Women Artists Now’ on my walk through the building up to the cinema screen. The exhibition space is located next to the popcorn and snack shop and it was a wonderful surprise when I saw the mixed media prints hanging on the walls in an exhibition called Textual Threads and walked along admiring each piece before eventually heading into the cinema theatre. After I came out of the cinema and made my way through the exhibition, admiring once again, I heard the voice of Juliana Yazbeck warming up for her performance that evening, Yazbeck combines poetry and music and tells stories focused on gender, war, displacement and love.

Rich Mix isn’t a cinema, its home for a cultural community so don’t expect sticky cinema carpet, ushers hanging around or dark dingy corridors. There is so much going on at Rich Mix, you are more likely to expect members of the public pondering the works of art in the exhibitions, acts warming up their singing voices or stretching their limbs for a performance of dancing and acting, whilst others lean over the balcony passing time with people watching.

Downstairs is the box office and the entrance to the live performance room, opposite and leading away, is a red line taped on the floor taking you upstairs, through the exhibition room and up to the cinema screens. Next door to Rich Mix, and in association, is Indi-Go an Indian and Oriental express ‘street’ food destination that offers you amazing authentic Indian food, a very simple and easy menu with a great selection of green teas, black teas, white teas and coffee!

Housed in a former leather factory, Rich Mix have spaces for creative businesses, three cinemas and a multitude of flexible performance spaces. Their mission is ‘to be the place where all of the communities of the world come together to make and experience art and feel like they belong’ It is so great to have a place that wants to be this ‘rich mix’ of cultural diversity in an independent arts venue in the heart of a very mixed and colourful part of London. As a charity and social enterprise they earn almost 85% of the overall running costs, and are proud to be financially self-sufficient.

Rich Mix are very organised and have got March-April covered with weeks and weeks worth of amazing performances and events, pick up your free events calendar (they’ve got the calendar on that really nice, strong smelling paper so it’s worth it just for the sniffs) and you can indulge in culture and art and be a much better person for it. There are plenty of free events as well as prices ranging from £10 to £20 for live music, £7 to £12 for performances and cinema offers such as £6 Monday tickets, £5 Monday-Tuesday with an Idea Store Card or £8 regular before 5pm  and £10.50 after 5pm and weekend tickets as well as great family deal tickets.