Ich Bin Kentishtowner: Ed Berman, founder, Inter-Action


‘Don’t be afraid to ask royalty to visit your projects, famous actors to appear in your tiny theatre; and questions which might enlighten your ignorance.’



Planning his next move: Ed Berman
Planning his next move: Ed Berman

Ed Berman MBE arrived in Britain from Harvard in 1962 and set up the charity, Inter-Action Trust, which commissioned the first community arts resource centre in Europe on a site in Talacre Rd, West Kentish Town. The Trust has been the umbrella for theatre companies and festivals, making print, radio and video accessible to local communities, and also established the UK’s first City Farm in Kentish Town. Berman has worked for all three main political parties including becoming the non-party political Special Advisor on Inner City Matters and the Voluntary Sector. Last Sunday he brought his Fun Art Bus back to Talacre on Sunday for the first ever Kentish Town Carnival.

Giving out tickets on the Fun Art Bus at Kentish Town Carnival. Photograph by Sally Lyall Grant
Giving out tickets on the Fun Art Bus at Kentish Town Carnival. Photograph by Sally Lyall Grant
When were you happiest?
Watching from the balcony of the new Inter-Action Centre at Talacre in 1976, a number of WAC (Weekend Arts College) youngsters dancing to a full house.

Where would you like to live?
Where I live now on the riverfront on the Isle of Dogs looking west to the centre of London.

What is your favourite sound or smell?
The sound of horses’ hooves; and the smell of their manure.

What is your greatest life achievement?
I’m still looking forward to it; but so far it has been the founding of Talacre, City Farm 1 and the National Federation of City Farms and Community Gardens.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?
Always ask, i.e don’t be afraid to ask royalty to visit your projects (see Prince Charles at Talacre in the film below), famous actors to appear in your tiny theatre; and questions which might enlighten your ignorance.

What is your earliest K-Town memory?
The view of the derelict site which became Talacre.

What makes you unhappy?
Arrogant people, especially who steal creativity that is not theirs.

What simple thing would improve your quality of life?
Less physical pain from the attempt to kill me when I was 24 in 1965.

What is your most unappealing habit?
All of my habits are appealing to me.

The derelict bomb site in 1972, developed by Ed Berman and Inter-Action Trust, now Talacre Gardens
The site in 1972, developed by Ed Berman and Inter-Action Trust, now Talacre Gardens

What is your guilty pleasure?
Eating sweets as a type 2 diabetic.

Where do you hang out?
In my flat with a lot of creative visitors.

Who or what do you hate and why?
No one is worth wasting emotion on in that way.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
That I’m recognisable.

What’s the worst thing anyone’s said to you?
Do you know Ed Berman?

Oink. Some happy piglets at Kentish Town City Farm. Photograph by Stephen Emms
Oink. Some happy piglets at Kentish Town City Farm. Photograph by Stephen Emms

Tell us a secret.
There are no secrets.

What has your career taught you?
Don’t be a careerist; create something new.

What is your favourite dish and why?
A cold, crisp Braeburn apple. Why not?

What did you do today?
Had some laughs with my interns, wrote a song, a scenario and a piece of doggerel; failed once again to change the world.

Describe yourself as an animal
A unicorn.

This is box title
Look out for our report and pictures from Kentish Town Carnival, as well as more history about Talacre, tomorrow.

Got a suggestion for Ich Bin Kentishtowner? Email us: info@kentishtowner.co.uk


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