London Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced that Waltham Forest and Brent will become the capital’s first Boroughs of Culture. Waltham Forest will the be inaugural borough to own the title next year (2019) and Brent will become the 2020 Borough of Culture.
The London Borough of Culture award was launched by the mayor in June 2017 after becoming inspired by the UK City and European Capital of Culture programmes. 22 London boroughs submitted proposals as part of a six month-long process to select the eventual winners.
Winning boroughs will receive £1.35million of funding to be spent on cultural activities. Waltham Forest’s bid carries a target of engaging 85% of households to participate and a half a million visitors with a programme of activities spanning the entire outer London borough from Walthamstow to Epping Forest. Artist Zarah Hussain has been commissioned to make a digital installation on Walthamstow Marshes, while Bob and Roberta Smith will pen a cultural manifesto for future generations. The bid was backed by 12,000 locals including Damon Albarn and David Bailey.
Young people are at the heart of Brent’s bid and the borough will establish a new trust to carry out the proposed. Brent will work with young people to influence and deliver the proposals made in the bid: 50% of the trust’s board will be locals under 30. The bid will see a street party for 200,000 people on the A5, a new music festival for 82,000 people and the commissioning of ten new artworks for each of the borough’s libraries.
Six additional boroughs will share £850,000 made available by the Mayor’s Cultural Impact Awards for projects proposed by boroughs in their bids including the borough of Lambeth, which will work with BAME Londoners to help them into work in the arts, supported by local institutions including South Bank Centre, Old Vic, BFI and the National Theatre.
“London Borough of Culture is a game-changer for the capital,” says Sadiq Khan. “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.
“But with such high-quality bids, deciding which boroughs should win was a very difficult decision. All boroughs who have bid should feel proud of their proposals.
“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,” the mayor continues. "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.
“All of London has two exciting Boroughs of Culture celebrations to look forward to, and I can’t wait to see Waltham Forest and Brent’s bids come to life and improve the lives of people in their local communities.”
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