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  • Writer's pictureKemiALondoner

In Time and Leisure

I was interviewed by Time and Leisure about our Borough of culture win.

Here is what I said


'The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has chosen Wandsworth to become London Borough of Culture for 2025.

Councillor Kemi Akinola, Deputy Leader and the Cabinet Lead on the Voluntary Sector, Business Engagement and Culture, gave us her reaction to the win. She is clearly ecstatic with the result. “I am so excited. I want to go to everything,” she enthuses.

The bid campaign called on everyone in the borough to get involved, and has the slogan: ‘We’ll do this together’.

“The main challenge with the bid was the amount of time we had to pull all the different aspects of the borough together. We wanted a really comprehensive inclusion of every socio-economic, geographical demographic of Wandsworth. It was an ambitious challenge, but we wanted everyone to take part, enjoy and learn and be part of the bid.

“And now we have won, it feels like a win for everyone involved!”

The programme will start in April next year and it’s Kemi’s hope that every single person in the borough attends at least one event. “You don’t have to go into an institution to experience an event, but it’s my aim that every resident will take part, see and enjoy some kind of artistic experience. Even if people pass one of the outdoor performances put on by Wandsworth Arts Fringe, we want people’s wellbeing to have been enhanced through the medium of art.”

At the core of the Wandsworth bid is health and wellbeing, with arts and culture playing a key role in that. But arts funding is under threat.

“We are going through a cost of living crisis and many local authorities are running out of money, and arts funding is often the first thing to be cut. So having this boost of income and spotlight on Wandsworth will protect and nurture the creativity and art in the borough for many years to come, which people desperately need access to for their health and wellbeing.”

Leader of Wandsworth council Simon Hogg said of the win: “A massive thank you to the hundreds of community organisations, creative venues, schools, businesses and residents of all ages who helped shape our bid.

“This is brilliant news for our borough. Wandsworth is a fantastic place to live, with strong diverse communities representing the best of modern Britain. We are going to deliver a year to remember, using the power of culture to transform lives, spark joy, connect people and improve wellbeing, never more important than now.”

Tarek Iskander, Artistic Director & CEO of Battersea Arts Centre, which is celebrating its 50th birthday this year said: “Wandsworth has always been a home for the pioneering and the under-represented, the visionary and the mischievous. It’s that uncompromising, radical and rebellious spirit that positions us to deliver an outstanding year as London Borough of Culture.”

Croydon has held the title of London Borough of Culture from 2023-2025, and during this time saw the launch of the much-anticipated Rewind: This is Croydon’s Music Exhibition. This was a celebration of artists spanning generations, and the borough also put on the 100 Faces of Croydon, which was a unique community-led photography and music project from London Mozart Players.

Haringey was announced as the winner of the title from 2027. Both winning boroughs will receive £1.35m from City Hall. Barnet, Merton and Greenwich were named as Cultural Impact Award winners, and they will receive up to £200,000 to deliver smaller scale creative projects within their communities.

Wandsworth is home to Battersea Arts Centre, the Royal College of Art, National Opera Studio and Royal Academy of Dance, as well as grassroots organisations like Tara Theatre, Oily Cart, Sprout Art, Wandsworth Music, Sound Minds, Putney Arts Theatre, Tavaziva Dance, Matt’s Gallery, World Heart Beat and Baked Bean Theatre Company. The borough’s rich attractions include Battersea Park, Tooting Market, Battersea Power Station, the Clapham Grand and more.'

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