01 Oct Business Of The Year Breathes New Life Into Croydon
A remarkable year that began with Kevin Zuchowski-Morrison ignoring the fears of his accountant has ended with RISEgallery being named as Croydon’s Business of the Year.
The art gallery has breathed new life into St George’s Walk in the heart of Croydon since opening its doors last year, showcasing emerging and international artists, and thrust the town into the spotlight this summer by hosting an exhibition of work by Banksy.
But Kevin’s influence in Croydon has gone way beyond that through his commitment to pioneering projects using art as a catalyst for positive change in the community and his desire to create an Arts Quarter in the town.
“We started off with a very low profile, no social media and high-end artists that had perhaps never been seen before from this area,” he said.
“From that we’ve grown at an incredible rate, which is really surprising. My accountant actually told me not to do it, but I ignored him but I think you have to do what you believe in.
“It’s been a difficult year and challenging year but it’s been an exciting and exhilarating year and I think that’s down to all we’re trying to do.”
RISEgallery was also named as Best New Business at the Croydon Business Excellence Awards, held at Fairfield Halls on Thursday, October 1, but admitted winning the top award on the night had come as a shock.
“It’s quite overwhelming. It’s not something I really thought about or expected but it’s a real honour,” he added.
“We’ve had amazing support from the council, from the local community, from White Label and from other organisations that are within the area that feel our vision.
“It’s not about capital gain, it’s about impact and the narrative it has on the community.”
And Kevin has high plans, literally, for the future as he is preparing to launch the next phase of the Arts Quarter called the Croydon Mural Project.
“That involves around 50 high rise buildings within the borough of Croydon. 25 of which are over 30 metres,” he said.
“Collaboratively that makes the Croydon Mural Project the most concentrated high level mural installation in the world.
“We will also continue offer a strong programme of artists here, a diverse programme, so there’s lots of come. This is just like a starting peg for what we envisage for the future.”
The ovation which greeted the announcement of RISEgallery’s award demonstrated the impact Kevin’s project has made on the local community.
Councillor Toni Letts, Croydon’s cabinet member for the economy and jobs, said: “I am delighted for Kevin winning business of the year.
“He has put Croydon on the arts map and turned St George’s Walk into a vibrant creative hub that is now known as Croydon’s Arts Quarter.
“Congratulations to him and every business that is helping to build Croydon as a modern European city.
“Croydon is only ever as good as its businesses are successful and in this room tonight, table after table of people are business successes.”