What South London gets from the London Borough of Culture awards

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Sure, the big winners are all north of the Thames, but these four areas will all benefit too


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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, GasholderLeytonstoner, 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:

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Lambeth: Next Generation (Funding £200,000)

Lambeth will work with young BAME Londoners to help them develop careers in the arts – inspiring the next generation of artists and cultural leaders. It will be supported by major cultural institutions across the borough including the South Bank Centre, Old Vic, BFI and the National Theatre.

Lewisham: Festival of Creative Ageing (£216,000)

Working with Sadler’s Wells and The Albany, the Festival of Creative Ageing celebrates how culture can help people to live longer, happier, more independent lives. The centrepiece will be Christopher Green’s 48-hour immersive theatre performance The Home, devised with older residents.

Kingston: Live Music (£90,000)

A brand-new music festival – inspired by the musical heritage of the area, including the old Decca Records pressing plant in New Malden. Young musicians, promoters and businesses will take part in this festival, which will bring further investment into Kingston’s night-time economy.

Merton: Film Merton (£40,000)

Mitcham really wants a cinema. Merton is taking an inventive approach to establishing a new local cinema in the area. The project aims to show there’s a real appetite in film, and make the case for future investment.

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