DD2133 London Borough of Culture and London Councils

Type of decision: 
Director's decision
Date signed: 
09 June 2017
Decision by: 
Jeff Jacobs, Head of Paid Service

Executive summary

The London Borough of Culture is an initiative through which one borough will be chosen each year as the focus for celebrations of the city’s arts and culture.  It is similar in concept to the European City of Culture. 

Under cover of MD2045 the Mayor approved expenditure of £154,000 for the initial phase of the London Borough of Culture competition.  He subsequently approved, under cover of MD2107, a further £3.413m (from 2017/18 to 2020/21) to support the competition. That included funding to London Boroughs for assistance in the development and support of their applications.

The GLA now wishes to appoint London Councils to manage and administer this process on behalf of the GLA.  This decision also seeks an exemption from Part C, paragraph 9 of the Contracts and Funding Code so that London Councils can be appointed without a competitive procurement. 


That the Executive Director of Communities & Intelligence approves:

•    Expenditure of up to £73,000 in grant funding to be made available to London Boroughs, which is to be held, managed and distributed by London Councils.

•    Expenditure of £2,000 as a fee to be paid to London Councils for the administration and management of the grant funding detailed above.

•    An exemption from the GLA’s Contracts and Funding Code, to appoint London Councils without a competitive procurement exercise so as to carry out the activities detailed in this report.

Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

1.1    London Borough of Culture (LBOC) is a competition that will celebrate the unique and distinctive character, people and heritage of London’s 32 boroughs – a vivid tapestry of distinctive neighbourhoods that makes London one of the most culturally vibrant cities in the world - a City for all Londoners.  This new award will deliver ambitious cultural programmes and throw a spotlight onto important and unusual social projects that are often under the radar, and encourage all Londoners to explore their neighbourhoods in new ways.  It will be underpinned by the active engagement of local residents as co-commissioners, placing culture at the heart of communities, inspiring new talent and creativity, and drawing visitors from across the city and beyond. 

1.2    Under cover of MD2045, expenditure of £154,000 was approved to implement the first phase of the London Borough of Culture competition which included the following:

-    Fully develop The London Borough of Culture competition with an established governance structure.
-    Publically launch the competition.
-    Map a detailed four year stakeholder engagement plan and confirm a media sponsor.
-    Identify up to £1m in potential match funding for the programme.
-    Implement Bid development workshops and provide specialist advice to London Boroughs to develop and support their applications.

1.3    Subsequently MD2107 approved further expenditure of up to £3.413m from 2017/18 – 2020/21 to fully launch the London Borough of Culture competition and to fund activities including:

-    Partnership development.

-    PR, Media and overall engagement strategy, to increase awareness of the programme and to 
        engage Londoners.
-    Delivery of fundraising and sponsorship events to raise the profile of the competition even further and to engage potential sponsors and match funding agencies.
-    Delivery of a comprehensive media strategy including the marketing and communications expenditure related to the programme.
-    Two grant awards (2019 and 2020) of up to £1m each
-    A grant fund of £500,000 for smaller exemplary projects from other boroughs (not the winners).

1.4    Under cover of MD2107, approval was received to make  funds available to London Boroughs for assistance in the development and support of their applications to the London Borough of Culture competition. The GLA wishes to appoint London Councils to manage and administer this process on behalf of the GLA.

1.5    Each London Borough who wishes to apply to this fund for support for their application will be eligible to claim up to £2,200 in a first round of grants .If any funds are remaining after a first call, a further round of support will be offered to Boroughs.  Any funds remaining at the end of the competition will be repaid by London Councils to the GLA.

Objectives and expected outcomes

2.1    The London Borough of Culture competition programme timeline is as follows:

         - Letters to Borough leaders and CEOs, from the Mayor, formally notifying them of the programme were circulated in March 2017.

         - Official launch of the LBOC programme will take place in June 2017 and the competition  
            will be open to bids from London Boroughs until the end of December. This includes access to a pool of funding for London Boroughs which they can spend on contracting specialist support or consultancy to support  their bid preparations .

         -Bids from London Boroughs will be evaluated by and scored against weighted criteria by GLA officers, with recommendations being made to the Mayor in January 2018. 

         -The winners will be announced in February 2018 for London Borough of Culture 2019 and London Borough of Culture 2020, as well as exemplary small development projects in up to six additional London Boroughs. 

2.2    A total of £73,000 will be made available to all 32 London Boroughs to help with  bid preparation  The GLA wishes to appoint London Councils to manage and administer this fund on behalf of the GLA and requests a related exemption from Part C section 9 of the contracts and funding code to enable this. The reasoning for requesting an exemption from the code is detailed in section 4 of this report.

2.3    Additional expenditure up £2,000 will also be payable to London Councils by way of a fee for managing and administering all aspects of the grant funding pool which will be made available to London Boroughs applying for specialist support in their applications to the London Borough of Culture competition.

2.4    Consultations have already taken place with London Councils with the fee due to London Councils 
    for provision of the administration, management and distribution of the grant funding having been agreed.

2.5    The Culture & Creative Industries Unit at the GLA will ensure that an appropriate agreement is put in place between London Councils and the London Boroughs who are successful in their application for funding to support their applications to the competition to ensure the funding is used for its intended purpose. GLA officers will also ensure that monitoring and evaluation is put in place as part of the agreements to enable the GLA to evaluate the effectiveness of the support being provided; currently this is still being scoped but will form a mandatory requirement as part of the funding being provided.

Equality comments

3.1    Under Section 149 of the Equality Act 2010, as a public authority, the Mayor of London must have ‘due regard’ of the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation as well as to advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between people who have a protected characteristic and those who do not.

3.2    The London Borough of Culture competition will be open to all London Boroughs to apply for and to receive grant funding if their application proves to be successful. The evaluation of all applications will be fair and transparent and scored and evaluated to the same criteria, giving all applicants an equal opportunity to access the grant funding outlined in the main body of this report.

3.3    The development fund will be available to all London Boroughs for support with their bid writing and application to the competition. This funding will be distributed fairly and openly by London Councils to all those who wish to apply for this fund.

Other considerations

4.1    With the value of the proposed activity, GLA officers acknowledge that Part C, Section 9 of the Contracts and Funding Code requires a formal and suitable tender process is undertaken. However Part C, Section 10 of the Contracts and Funding Code provides that an exemption from Section 9 may be approved upon certain grounds.

4.2    GLA officers are seeking an exemption from Part C, Section 10 of the Contracts and Funding Code to appoint London Councils to manage and administer the £73,000 for the activities set out in section 1.4 of this report. Officers are of the view that London Councils are in a unique position to be able to deliver this service due to the following:

•    London Councils is the cross-party organisation which represents London’s 32 Boroughs and the City of London. It is the only strategic organisation of its kind and is best placed to administer this on the GLA’s behalf, as a conduit between the GLA and the London Boroughs. 

•    London Councils works in partnership with the GLA culture and creative industries team on the London Culture Forum. This role will be an extension of the existing relationship, GLA officers are of the view that due to the longstanding and close relationships that London Councils have with London Boroughs that they are unique in their ability to provide this service in keeping with the requirements of the programme. No other organisation maintains such close working relationships with every London Council. GLA officers are also of the view that  the fee required for this work  also represents good value for money. For the GLA to appoint a different supplier could result in significant additional expenditure, additional resources being expended and potentially negatively impact on the expected outcome of the grant funding due to supplier failure in being able to effectively manage and distribute the grant funding without the necessary relationships with boroughs being in place.

Financial comments

5.1    Approval is being sought for expenditure of £75,000 to support borough applicants competing to become the London Borough of Culture.   

5.2    A pool of £73,000 will made be available where London Boroughs can bid for funds to access support for developing their applications. The remaining £2,000 will be used to appoint London Councils to manage and administer these funds accordingly on behalf of the GLA.

5.3     This expenditure will be met from the Culture and Creative Industries 2017-18 Budget.

Planned delivery approach and next steps



Procurement of contract

Upon DD approval

Delivery Start Date

July 2017

Delivery End Date

December 2017

Project Closure

January 2018

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