How I will continue to support the community

The former head of arts and culture at Enfield Council on what he loves about the borough and how he will continue to support local people in his new role

Paul Everitt is now the director of culture and community infrastructure for Love Your Doorstep CIC, having previously spent 13 years as head of arts and culture for Enfield Council
Paul Everitt is now the director of culture and community infrastructure for Love Your Doorstep CIC, having previously spent 13 years as head of arts and culture for Enfield Council

After growing up as a very camp young gay man in a small working-class Midlands town, I know what it is like to be ostracised and bullied.

I learned quickly that to survive in such an unfriendly environment, it is vital not to allow yourself to live in fear, to know who you are, to stand up for yourself and to be proud. Those life lessons gained as a child stood me in good stead to survive the past three-and-a-half years working within the toxic culture currently pervasive in the organisation I have just departed.

Since 2018 a culture of bullying and intimidation took hold at the civic centre, designed to paralyse through fear. The previous ten years had been different, however. Though under the constant struggle and strain of cost pressures and budget cuts, there was an instinct and energy from elected members and officers to engage with the community, to design and deliver an infrastructure that was wanted and needed, and to keep engaged to ensure things kept improving for the whole community. Unity, not division, was the prize.

What Enfield has in spades is good and dedicated people. I have met them in every corner of the community over the past 13 years. They have challenged me when their community has been overlooked and they have supported me when I have tried to do something about it. I remember well Janet Kay giving me a right telling off that she was performing concerts in Tokyo but not at her own local theatre; Saray Karakus explaining that her Edmonton theatre troupe was having to travel all the way to Dalston for rehearsals; Nina Lewis pleading that many talented young people simply don’t have the funds to pay fees; Debbie Dean enraged that good local artists were being overlooked – all good people challenging us to do better and to be better.

Arts and culture is an essential experience for us all and the sad truth is that it is so often only available for people who can pay for it. The balance of those employed in the arts has shifted even further towards those that can afford it, and the sector does not reflect our community. We worked hard to reverse that in Enfield, and I was so proud to have led a diverse team that was able to crack through that glass ceiling.

As I learned as a child, we mustn’t lie down when we’ve been given a bloody nose. We must stand up and find another way. So I am thrilled to have been offered the opportunity to find that other way with Love Your Doorstep, an organisation that has supported the community in so many ways over the past ten years. I am looking forward to continuing to work with the good people of Enfield to ensure that voices are heard, and resources are developed in every part of the community.


Enfield Council has denied the claims made by Paul Everitt – read its response here