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Waltham Forest wins bid to become first London borough of culture

Waltham Forest has been named the first London borough of culture. Waltham Forest has been named the first London borough of culture.
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Waltham Forest has been named the first London borough of culture.

The north-east London borough was among 22 bidders for the scheme, overseen by London mayor Sadiq Khan, which sees the winning borough awarded £1.35 million funding for a year of cultural activities.

Waltham Forest’s bid for 2019 includes a digital installation on Walthamstow marshes by local artist Zarah Hussain and a new cultural manifesto from artists Bob and Roberta Smith.

Khan – who announced the initiative as one of his mayoral pledges – also announced Brent, in north-west London, as the winning borough of culture for 2020.

The borough aims to improve youth participation in the arts by 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.

Khan said: “When I have been out and about in recent months around London, I’ve picked up a real buzz about the London Borough of Culture, with different parts of the city vying to win this prestigious title.

“We’ve seen in the bids that have been submitted the brilliant ambition of boroughs across our city to deliver real change in their local areas through the transformative power of culture.”

In addition to the two winning boroughs, six boroughs will share a pot of £850,000 made available for the mayor’s Cultural Impact Awards, to use for projects highlighted by boroughs in their initial bids.

These include Lewisham, which will work with Sadler’s Wells and the Albany Theatre to create a 48-hour immersive theatre performance called The Home, devised with older residents.

The other boroughs to receive funding from the Cultural Impact Awards are Barking and Dagenham, Camden, Kingston, Lambeth, Lewisham and Merton.

The announcement follows a recent commitment from Khan of an extra £1 million of funding towards the borough of culture initiative.

As well as £3.5 million from City Hall for the London Borough of Culture competition, the initiative is also supported by a grant of £300,000 from City Bridge Trust – the City of London Corporation’s charitable funder.

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