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  • Writer's pictureKemiALondoner

Wandsworth Wins London Borough of Culture

Updated: Apr 14

One of the things I enjoy the most about my role is the unexpected portfolio of Arts and Culture. It's one of the most fun parts and it exposes me to some wild and innovative art forms on a weekly basis.

In January 2023, many councils were discussing the cost of living, cuts and inflation with arts always first on the chopping board. Around this time I took the bold move of discussing with the arts team the possibility of applying for Borough of culture. At that time, we didn't even know if it was going to run again. No funding had been announced and my enquiries to the Mayors of London team were met with a 🤷🏽‍♀️

How reassuring to us was it that Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, a few months later then announced a further two years of funding with smaller grants awarded in the middle year.

Almost immediately a flurry, of emails were sent to all departments and by the time I’d journey to the Town hall the arts team had a plan of action - We would announce early, announce strongly, and meet with as many people as we possibly could to build the most inclusive and borough wide program. It was going to revolutionise how we communicated with our residents as well as introduce the idea culture that was for everyone, across the borough.

And this is exactly what we did for the next 4 months. Residents Schools, community organisations, religious centres and health and educational institutions and others all had the opportunity to input.

We were confident that even if we didn't win the borough of culture, we would have the core ingredients of a renewed Arts and culture strategy that we would aim to deliver.

There was still a application form to write and an interview to be completed before the announcement day, so we breathed some relief when we were invited to the announcement day. Then we realised everyone who applied was invited. Crumbs!

The journey t city hall that morning for me was filled with anxiety, relief, self doubt, total belief and unbelief - a mix bag of emotions although all along I had been confident we would win.

As the award ceremony went on and I heard the strong contenders being called out I felt more confident - surely you put in the hard work and you get the right results?

Yes, Yes you do!

So we are now Borough of culture for 2025 and the planning on how we deliver this now really begins.

I am looking forward to each and every day planning and delivering this wonderful year of art and culture and seeing the difference it will make to all our residents lives

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