Lewisham’s year as London Borough of Culture has been postponed for a year until 2022 as the capital’s authorities turn their attention to dealing with the coronavirus emergency.
The award, from the Mayor of London, aims to support the arts across the capital and comes with £1.35 million to stage a year-long programme of cultural events across the winning borough.
Lewisham pledged to deliver “lasting social change” and “a lot of fun” during 2021 after being named a winner in February. Events are now expected to kick off in January 2022.
Events in Brent – this year’s borough of culture has been delayed although Croydon’s plans for 2023 so far remain unchanged.
Sadiq Khan’s deputy mayor for culture and creative industries, Justine Simons, said: “It’s important that we all follow the government’s instructions to stay at home unless it is essential to leave. But we do not want Londoners to miss out on the amazing creative programmes that Brent, Lewisham and Croydon have planned, so that is why we have rescheduled our plans.
“We will work closely with artists, the boroughs and all those involved to ensure they are supported during these challenging times.”
Lewisham’s elected mayor, Damien Egan, said: “The decision to postpone our year of culture has not been an easy one but it’s important that we are completely focused on keeping services for vulnerable residents going as best we can during the unprecedented challenge that coronavirus presents.
“We will continue to work with and support our fantastic cultural partners and grassroots organisations and look forward to celebrating our year of culture in 2022.”
Lewisham fought off competition from Greenwich, Hounslow, Haringey, Sutton, and Hammersmith and Fulham.
Plans for the borough include the world’s first ‘tag’ climate carnival with the borough’s 18 neighbourhoods “showcasing the power of culture to highlight social issues and stimulate action within communities”.
A mass dance party is also planned, which will explore the impact of migration and diversity on London’s dance scene.
The borough will have an outdoor music festival inspired by the 1970s Rock Against Racism gigs as well as a national creative careers conference “leading a call to action to address inequality”.
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Grainne Cuffe is the Local Democracy Reporter for Lewisham. The Local Democracy Reporter Service is a BBC-funded initiative to ensure councils are covered properly in local media.
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