Hounslow, and Hammersmith & Fulham, have both been shortlisted by the Mayor of London in its bid to be London Borough of Culture 2021.
London Borough of Culture is a programme run by the Mayor of London to promote culture across the capital. Waltham Forest is the first London Borough of Culture for 2019 with Brent soon to take over as Borough of Culture for 2020.
Two more boroughs will be chosen and awarded £1.35 million to deliver a programme placing culture at the heart of their communities and celebrating the unique character of local people and places during 2021 and 2022.
Boroughs can also win Cultural Impact Awards, each receiving up to £200,000 to deliver cultural projects. The successful bids will be announced in February.
The London Borough of Culture is a major initiative launched by the Mayor Of London, Sadiq Khan, inspired by the UK City and European Capital of Culture programmes. The competition has fulfilled one of the Mayor’s key manifesto pledges by strengthening London’s reputation as an international powerhouse for culture.
The inaugural winner in 2019 was Waltham Forest, whose programme included more than 1,000 cultural events, workshops and activities across the year, and involved all 88 schools in the borough. Some of the highlights included 70,000 visitors attending the opening weekend Welcome to the Forest, 1,500 children making tin toys in Leyton as part of Atomic 50, 100 international musicians coming together to perform to 3,000 people for Africa Express, and a spectacular closing show last weekend with Forest Uprising.
Brent will be the London Borough of Culture for 2020, and last month announced a bold programme, curated by young people and including events at Wembley Park, new work by Zadie Smith and the return of the MOBO Awards to the borough.
The success of the London Borough of Culture programme has captured global inspiration, with Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires, now running their own ‘Barrios Creativos’ programme, inspired by London.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “We created the London Borough of Culture to give Londoners a chance to create and enjoy world-class culture on their doorstep. Waltham Forest’s programme has shown its power to bring together communities and inspire young people, and Brent’s exciting programme for 2020 is set to continue this success. We look forward to hearing more about boroughs’ bold plans for 2021 and 2023.”
Justine Simons OBE, Deputy Mayor for Culture and Creative Industries, said: “In every corner of the capital there is creativity and culture, there are hidden gems and unexpected stories. The London Borough of Culture shines a light on the unique character of our boroughs, it inspires powerful civic pride and celebrates world class culture. The first winner, Waltham Forest, has set the bar really high with a fantastic programme, every single school in the borough involved and 1,000 local people inspired to volunteer. I can’t wait to see who’s next.”
Also on the shortlist for 2021 and 2022 are Croydon, Greenwich, Lewisham, Haringey, and Sutton.
At the end of October, a delegation from Hounslow led by Leader, Cllr Steve Curran, Mayor of Hounslow, Cllr Tony Louki and Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure Services, Cllr Samia Chaudhary brought Hounslow’s bid to City Hall aboard a vintage 1963 Routemaster bus, courtesy of Redroutemaster, the Brentford-based bus hire company.
They were joined by representatives of partners Feltham Arts, Watermans, Creative People & Places, Tale Be Told Theatre, Kempton Steam Museum and Speak Out Hounslow as well as various writers, residents, local musicians, community groups and journalists from Hounslow.
Hounslow’s bid outlines an exciting programme of cultural events and initiatives that will bring different people together, sharing their time, ideas and energy. It would be a great opportunity to get investment into the borough, showcase what makes Hounslow special, and use culture as a catalyst to bring great opportunities to the borough, developing skills and talents and developing collaboration between creative delivery partners, schools, colleges and industry.
If Hounslow wins the right to be 2021 Borough of Culture, it will receive £1.35m to support the delivery of the programme in 2021. As welcome as this funding would be, winning Borough of Culture is more than additional investment; it’s very much focused on unlocking potential, the mobilisation and sharing of ideas and aspirations throughout the borough; creating a cultural superhighway and unleashing “an unstoppable movement of people, ideas and opportunity”.
Councillor Samia Chaudhary, Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure Services at Hounslow Council said: “It’s great news to hear that we have been shortlisted for the London Borough of Culture 2021 award. We are one step closer to making this happen for Hounslow and along with our cultural partners and communities, we are very excited and ready for this.
“Winning this award would be a fantastic boost for Hounslow and would enable us to kickstart an unstoppable movement of people, ideas and opportunity throughout the borough, creating better community cohesion, unlocking potential and opportunity while showcasing the borough’s wonderful assets to the wider London community and beyond.”