Newham launches bid to become London’s Borough of Culture

PUBLISHED: 16:07 11 September 2017 | UPDATED: 16:26 11 September 2017

East Ham Town Hall

East Ham Town Hall


Newham has launched a bid to become London’s Borough of Culture, with the ambition that if the bid succeeds everyone will live within walking distance of a facility for “enjoying or sharing” some form of cultural activity.

The Borough of Culture is a new initiative launched by the mayor of London which will select two boroughs, one for 2019 and one for 2020, that will receive money for delivering “bespoke cultural projects.”

The council’s vision, ‘Everyone, All Together,’ will be a grassroots campaign “shaped by our communities and will reflect the character and vibrancy of the borough.”

Speaking at a Newham Council cabinet meeting last night, mayor Sir Robin Wales said he is hopeful about the bid being successful.

He said: “We have a different offer to other people. We are not telling the stories of other boroughs.”

Places like Islington may have great venues, he added, but Newham’s young and engaged population are a unique asset.

The successful borough will receive £1.1 million funding from the Greater London Assembly. It is also likely the winning borough will receive further grants and sponsorship.

For deputy mayor Ken Clark, this is only part of the scheme’s appeal.

He said: “It’s not really about the money, it’s about the prestige it would bring to the borough.”

Under the rules of the initiative Newham Council would also have to put in an additional £330,000 themselves if the bid succeeds.

The council also plans to spend up to £50,000 on its bid, hiring external staff to help pull together proposals because the council doesn’t believe it has the required level of specialist experience.

In a report into the bid, the council notes it has a “proud record” of putting on “meaningful cultural activities” at venues like City Airport, the London Stadium and ExCel.

The report also states: “London is the creative capital of the world but the GLA estimate only about one third of Londoners feel they make the most of the culture on their doorsteps.

“The borough of culture fund is an excellent opportunity to expand and grow Newham’s cultural offer.”

So far Merton, Waltham Forest, Camden, Lambeth, Bexley and Croydon have declared they are submitting bids.

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