Waltham Forest and Brent crowned London Boroughs of Culture

27 February 2018

Waltham Forest has been crowned the capital’s first-ever London Borough of Culture - taking up the title in 2019 - while Brent is set to follow in 2020, Mayor Sadiq Khan announced today.

Twenty-two boroughs competed for the hotly contested new title, which will see the winning two councils receive £1.35 million each to deliver an ambitious programme of cultural activities that celebrates their local communities and inspires the next generation of creative talent.

Waltham Forest won the 2019 title with a bid envisioning a borough-wide celebration of culture, including a digital installation on Walthamstow Marshes developed by local artist Zarah Hussain and involving every school in the borough.

The outer London borough plans to involve 85 per cent of households from across its diverse communities and attract half a million visits. The bid received backing from musicians Damon Albarn and Fleur East, as well as photographer David Bailey. 

Brent’s vision, meanwhile, places its young people at the helm of a new trust to deliver culture locally, after the council found during the consultation that, of the young people they worked with, none had been to the Tate and none had heard of the National Theatre. 

Other projects include a ‘Museum of All Brent Life’ and a major new music festival – ‘No Bass Like Home’ exploring the borough’s musical legacy as the home of reggae. Author Zadie Smith, actor Riz Ahmed and footballer Raheem Sterling all pledged support.

“London Borough of Culture is a game-changer for the capital,” Mayor Sadiq Khan said. “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,” he said. 

Six other boroughs won the Mayor’s Cultural Impact Awards for landmark projects highlighted by boroughs in their initial bids, and will share in a pot worth £850,000. They are: Barking and Dagenham, Camden, Kingston, Lambeth, Lewisham and Merton. 

“Culture is what makes this city tick and with eight boroughs winning awards the benefits will be spread far and wide. It will shine a spotlight on the incredible culture, heritage and hidden gems that exist in our city,” said Justine Simons OBE, Deputy Mayor for Culture and Creative Industries, said.

The London Borough of Culture award, a flagship manifesto commitment, is a major new initiative launched by Sadiq in June 2017 – inspired by the UK City and European Capital of Culture programmes.

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