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Waltham Forest and Brent named first London boroughs of culture

Waltham Forest and Brent have been named as the first London boroughs of culture, each receiving at least £1.35m of funding.
The London mayor, Sadiq Khan, announced the two winners on Tuesday morning. They were chosen from the 22 London boroughs that submitted a bid. Ten boroughs did not enter the competition.
The project is inspired by the success of European capital of culture programmes, which have benefited cities including Glasgow and Liverpool, and more recently the UK city of culture, won by Derry and Hull and, for 2021, Coventry.
First up in Khan’s scheme will be Waltham Forest in 2019, followed by Brent in 2020, a borough that made its bid with the revelation that, among the young people with whom the council worked, not one had been to a Tate gallery and none had heard of the National Theatre.

“We should be shocked,” Khan acknowledged. “We live in the cultural capital of the world and for a variety of reasons they do not experience some of the joys we have in London, whether it’s the theatre, live gigs, museums or galleries. That is why we have to democratise culture and arts much more.
“Culture is the DNA of our city and we’ve got to make sure that all of us enjoy it.”
He said the borough of culture programmes would be a game-changer for London, with the winners not just getting cash from him. “They will be getting support from national arts bodies, whether it’s the National Theatre, whether it’s the Royal Ballet, whether it’s the O2, whether it’s public works of art being lent to that borough.”
Projects in Brent will include a summer street party on London’s oldest, straightest road, the A5; a reggae music festival, No Bass Like Home; and events to capitalise on the year, coinciding with Euro 2020, when Wembley will host seven international football matches including the final.
Waltham Forest, meanwhile, has set a target of getting 85% of households to participate in a cultural activity during its year. Projects include a culture manifesto written by the artist Bob and Roberta Smith, and a digital installation called Molecules in the Marshes on Walthamstow Marshes, developed by the local artist Zarah Hussain and involving every school in the borough.
The Waltham Forest council leader, Clare Coghill, said there was an “extraordinary” excitement and energy in the borough around the bid.
London City Hall is giving £3.5m to the overall competition while £300,000 has been promised by the City Bridge Trust, the City of London Corporation’s charitable funder.
Khan also announced six cultural impact awards, essentially consolation prizes, to projects in Barking and Dagenham, Camden, Kingston, Lambeth, Lewisham and Merton