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Waltham Forest and Brent to be London’s first Boroughs of Culture

Waltham Forest and Brent are to be crowned the first ever London Boroughs of Culture by mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.

Khan announced the winners of the London Borough of Culture competition, entered by 22 boroughs, earlier today.

Waltham Forest will be the inaugural borough to be awarded the title in 2019, followed by Brent in 2020.

The new initiative, which was inspired by the UK City and European Capital of Culture programmes, was launched by Khan in June 2017.

The winning boroughs will be awarded a £1.35m fund to deliver a programme of cultural activities, placing culture at the heart of communities and celebrating the unique character of local people and places.

Waltham Forest’s bid will deliver a year of cultural activity across the outer London borough, and has set an ambitious target of getting 85% of households to participate as well as attracting half a million new visitors to the area.

Drawing on the borough’s diversity was a key strength in its bid, which was backed by over 12,000 local people.

In Brent’s bid, the voices of young people took centre stage.

During the consultation for its bid, the council found that none of the young people that it worked with had been to the Tate Modern and none had heard of the National Theatre.

This led the borough to target establishing a new trust for delivering culture in the area, with 50% of the trust’s board being both from the local community and under the age of 30.

Wembley Stadium will host seven Euro 2020 matches, including the semi-finals and final, which Cllr Muhammed Butt, leader of Brent Council, said: “Represents an amazing opportunity to celebrate the huge diversity of Brent and of our great city to a massive international audience.”

He added: “To live, work, visit or study in Brent is to hear music, experience art, hear voices, see faces and taste foods from all corners of the globe, all in one day.

“From the classroom, to the high roads and the arenas, we want to create moments of wonder, joy and celebration that will bring all our communities together like never before.

“Young people will take the lead in developing the programme as 2020 sees arts and culture cemented at the heart of life in Brent for a generation and beyond.”

Sadiq Khan, mayor of London, said: “Huge congratulations to Waltham Forest and Brent for their superb bids.

“I know that both will deliver a programme of work that will benefit residents and make the whole city proud.

“I am particularly happy to see both bids have placed such importance on young people.

“It’s vital that young people get access to culture, regardless of their background, so that they can aspire to be our performers, artists, entrepreneurs and cultural leaders of the future.”

Leader of Waltham Forest Council, Clare Coghill, said on winning: “This award will transform lives and empower our people and our borough to even greater achievements. 

“The Borough of Culture Award has tapped into the thriving cultural melting pot that makes London such a unique place in the world. 

“To win in such a hugely competitive contest, against other boroughs that put together fabulous bids, is a humbling experience but one I know the whole community will use to spur us on to create a fabulous year of culture that London will be proud of.”

In addition to the winning boroughs, six boroughs will share £850,000 from the mayor’s Cultural Impact Awards.

Top image: Yui Mok PA Wire

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