Words by Stu and Louis
So briefly explain what “Long Live Southbank” is and how it all came about.
L: It’s a grass roots organisation rooted in the community of skateboarders and creatives who inhabit the Southbank Undercroft, very much the Mecca of UK skateboarding. We were formed when the spot came under threat in 2013, and gathered 150,000 signatures in our support. We are now (by the time this goes to press) fundraising to reopen legendary sections of the space which were closed over a decade ago, pushing against the tide of big money redevelopment across the world. With this said, we’re hoping to really get the worldwide skate scene behind us, to show that grassroots skateboarding can achieve something huge when it is fully committed.
S: LLSB was started by skateboarders and workers to ensure the long term security of the Southbank Undercroft. LLSB represents the diverse creative community that calls the undercroft home and came about originally to give this community a voice.
What were some of the biggest hurdles in saving the spot, and what were some of the tactics you used to succeed?
L: There were some real hurdles, but we maintained positivity and gained a huge amount of public support. Highly important to the campaign was the table. We had volunteers down by the skate spot every single day, talking to the public, collecting signatures and raising money for the campaign. That presence really kept a positive momentum for the campaign. Besides that, we were always in the media with a very natural publicity, and spoke at a huge range of talks, from architectural meetings to events on intangible heritage, whilst keeping it all true to skateboarding!
How did you go about gaining support from politicians and non-profits who aren’t involved in skateboarding?
S: One way of gaining support from non-skateboarding entities is to target groups that have a shared ethos or interest. For example, access to vibrant public space is something that politicians can be keen to be a part of and can be more than happy to help in any way they can. Remember that you don’t get what you don’t ask for! Keep sending out outreach emails and grow your network as much as possible- you never know when a sympathetic individual who isn’t directly in the skateboarding world will hear you talking about the project and offer a helping hand.
What sort of lessons could be applied in the fights to save American skate plazas or certain DIYS that are being threatened with demolition?
L: Stay positive, always believe you can be successful and be prepared to commit the time required! Move quickly and find out who the real decision makers are straight away. This is general advice, we are more than happy to use our experience and speak specifics! Give us an email at email@example.com.
S: As Louis said, one thing I think is really important to bear in mind with these kinds of projects is to remain as positive as possible and try think hard about the message you want to be sending out to the public. Instead of using negative language- try to be positive and highlight the benefits of the spot and what it adds to the local area and community, not just about how much it sucks that commodification is ruining your city… Also, if your local community is going into this type of contestation, then know that it is going to be a lot of hard work and it is going to take a long time, possibly years. The planning process is long and multi-faceted and there is an unbelievable amount of red-tape and bureaucracy that goes along with it. Being prepared for this will help your campaign remain realistic and ensure you have a truly committed core team.
S+L: It’s a hugely exciting time for Southbank as this landmark restoration is in sight, if we are able to raise the required funds. We really would like to reach out to readers for support. First and foremost; donations will make this achievable, so head to www.llsbdonate.com where any donation is welcome. We need to spread the word as much as possible and we’re stoked when the biggest names in skateboarding (as well as every other local ripper!) are giving us shout outs and telling their followers to donate. Keep spreading the word and talking to people. Whether it’s at the local park, shop, or at the dinner table. Putting on fundraisers is brilliant too! You can hit us up with any ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org, and cop a t-shirt in support there too.