We continue our Insight to Industry podcast with Wendy Cummins, the founder of Radiate Windrush Festival.
Wendy Cummins is founder of Radiate Windrush Festival, which takes place annually in celebration of the Black Caribbean British community.
Born in London to Caribbean parents, both of whom arrived in England as part of what is now called the Windrush Era. One from Jamaica and the other from the smaller Island of Barbados. With a blended upbringing of the British and twin-Caribbean culture, Wendy knew that the breath of her identity made her special amongst her English peers.
Growing up, she knew that she had to create a separation from the culture of her ‘home’ self to fit in with how the system saw and taught its children who were not from multi-heritage backgrounds. Throughout this journey of self-separation into adulthood, Wendy started to feel increasingly isolated and displaced from this country that she had always called home.
Hailing from a large, loud and colourful family in South London where food was plenty and belly laughter was the intoxication of the day. It was interesting to watch some older cousins carve out their identities in a way that would assimilate them into a form of Britishness and then watch others also struggle with the issues surrounding identity and where they belonged.
As a BRIT school alumni coming from performing arts & events, it felt like the most natural move to create a festival for Black British, Caribbean & Creole culture. A space where celebrations, conversation, expression and gathering could take place whilst bringing the intersections of Black formative identity together. She knew that it would help others feel that sense of placement she had been longing for.
Looking back to 2017, Wendy began to work on the concept of creating an event that was fitting to join British festival calendar. Researching dates that would be significant to her community, she knew about the Windrush. But never having learned about it in school, she was not aware that it was a part of her own family history since it seemed that no one celebrated this period of time as something significant.
When she realised that it was going to be 70 years since the 1948 arrival of the Empire Windrush when 492 passengers from the West Indies disembarked starting mass-migration, she wanted to make a big celebration of it in London and could not find anything else significant which had been planned.
The Radiate Windrush Festival was born and there was finally a celebration of her roots which brought her identity into existence beyond Carnival, giving her a place to celebrate this place she calls home.