The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has launched the search for the first-ever London Borough of Culture.
The new London Borough of Culture Award will see the capital’s boroughs bid for more than £1million 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. The competition will also be supported by a grant of £300,000 from City Bridge Trust, the City of London Corporation’s charitable funder. The City Corporation will also explore how its cultural assets, expertise, and services can support the competition and the winning boroughs.
From today, boroughs across the capital will begin to develop their bids to be awarded this major local funding for culture. In February 2018, two winning boroughs will be named London Borough of Culture, with one taking up the title in 2019 and the other in 2020.
Inspired by the UK City and European Capital of Culture programmes, the competition aims to strengthen London’s reputation as an international powerhouse for culture, by highlighting the hidden cultural gems across the capital.
The winning boroughs will be 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. The top bids will not only be expected to shine a spotlight on existing cultural treasures, but to bring new cultural opportunities to the area, encouraging their own residents to get involved as well as Londoners from across the capital, and visitors from further afield – this might include festivals, exhibitions, pop ups, and other arts activities.
A wide range of London’s leading cultural institutions will help the winning boroughs to realise their vision, including the Barbican, the Museum of London, the Roundhouse, Film London and the National Trust and others. The Heritage Lottery Fund and the Paul Hamlyn Foundation will also work with the winning boroughs to help them secure further funding for bespoke cultural projects.
In addition, £600,000 is available for to up to six boroughs which don’t win the title, but which put forward exemplary projects.
Another major element of the competition will focus on how the award can bring real change to the winning borough, delivering a lasting legacy for the area. Boroughs will be encouraged to consider how arts and culture can help them deliver their local plans, for example through training and skills development as well as regeneration projects.
Only a third of Londoners feel that they make the most of the culture on their doorstep.
Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, said: “Culture is the DNA of our city. 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.
“From the outset of my Mayoralty, I pledged to make growing London’s culture a core priority and I’m proud to launch this ground-breaking new initiative, which I know will bring culture to life across the city. I can’t wait to see what inspiring ideas our boroughs have in store.”
Justine Simons OBE, Deputy Mayor for Culture and the Creative Industries, said: “We are so lucky to have such inspiring culture on offer every day in London. There is always something to discover, every London borough is full of talent, culture and creativity. London Borough of Culture is a chance to be ambitious, to celebrate what we love about our boroughs and to dream big!”
The closing date for boroughs to submit their bids is 1 December 2017. The London Borough of Culture Prospectus and guidance on the application process is available on the website.