Back in June 2017, the Mayor of London launched an initiative to find the first-ever London Borough of Culture, a manifesto inspired by UK City and European Capital of Culture programmes, which brilliantly highlights the cultural diversity of London.
Open to all of London’s 32 boroughs, bids were invited to be in with a chance of securing over £1 million funding to programme ambitious cultural events and to make culture, ‘an integral part of the boroughs’ future.’
‘London Borough of Culture is a game-changer for the capital,’ said Sadiq Khan at the announcement at City Hall. ‘It will give all Londoners, regardless of background, the opportunity to enjoy the capital’s fantastic cultural riches, discover places they never knew existed and will increase the level of participation in the arts across the city – especially in outer London boroughs.’
Twenty two boroughs put bids in, but only one could be crowned the inaugural London Borough of Culture, which went to Waltham Forest. Promising a year of engaging cultural activities for London and its 275,843 populace, the outer London borough will use the £1.35million funding for ‘stand-out’ projects that include local artist Zarah Hussain’s digital installation, Molecules in the Marshes‚ that will be installed on Walthamstow Marshes and involves every school in the borough.
Projects will also highlight and emphasise the diverse cultures of the borough, including a fashion exchange that explores the heritage of Pakistani textile makers. And of course one of the borough’s most famous (former) residents, Arts and Crafts innovator William Morris, will inspire artist Bob and Roberta Smith to create a new culture manifesto.
In 2020 Brent, take on the mantle of London Borough of Culture, focusing on the voice of the younger generations. Through their bidding process, Brent discovered many young people in the borough did not interact with the capital’s major cultural institutions, including the Tate or the National Theatre. Wanting to explore what culture means to a younger generation, Brent will initiate a new trust in 2020 that will be key in designing the borough’s cultural programme.
Other projects include a borough-wide art commissioning strategy for ever library that reflects life in the borough, an exploration of Brent’s musical legacy as the home of reggae and a street party on the A5, London’s oldest and straightest road.
‘Huge congratulations to Waltham Forest and Brent for their superb bids. I know that both will deliver a programme of work that will benefit residents and make the whole city proud,’ said Khan.
‘I am particularly happy to see both bids have placed such importance on young people. It’s vital that young people get access to culture, regardless of their background, so that they can aspire to be our performers, artists, entrepreneurs and cultural leaders of the future.’
Six boroughs were also awarded funding under the Mayor’s Cultural Impact Award scheme to support ‘landmark projects’ included in their boroughs bid.
Want to see more art in the capital? Here are the best photography shows to see this week in London.