You’ll probably have seen by now that two swathes north of the river swept up the biggest monetary awards – an eye-watering £1.35million each – as the first ever London Boroughs of Culture.
That’s not to say areas south of the Thames have entirely missed out. But more on that later: firstly, what are the gongs all about about?
Well, six months ago a huge celebration of culture across the capital was kick-started by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. Inspired by the UK City and European Capital of Culture programmes – you must have seen all the hype on Hull last year – the competition aims to strengthen London’s reputation as an international powerhouse for culture. Which, incidentally, is also the raison d’etre of London Belongs To Me (the company which publishes this title, as well as eight other neighbourhood guides like Kentishtowner, Gasholder, Leytonstoner, Seventhsister and more).
“Culture is the DNA of our city,” says Khan. “It has the power to transform communities and to bring people closer together. Now, more than ever, there is a pressing need to reach out to our neighbours and celebrate London’s unique and diverse culture. London Borough of Culture is a great way to do just that whilst showing the world that our cultural gems extend way beyond the centre of the capital to all corners of the city.”
Last autumn each of the capital’s 32 boroughs bid for £1.35 million of funding to stage a programme of world-class cultural events and initiatives, and to develop a plan to make culture an integral part of the boroughs’ future.
And the first two winners, announced this morning, were Waltham Forest for 2019, and Brent in 2020. Both boroughs were chosen based on their “artistic vision and ambition to deliver outstanding cultural initiatives in their local area, putting communities at the centre of the programme’s design and delivery”.
But in addition to these, six boroughs across the city will share a decent-sized pot of £850,000 made available for the Mayor’s Cultural Impact Awards – landmark projects highlighted by boroughs in their initial bids.
The idea is that as many Londoners as possible are able to benefit from the Mayor’s record investment in culture. Here’s who will benefit in our broader neighbourhoods: