Brent 2020: Brent’s London Borough of Culture bid success will be ‘transformative’ socially and economically

PUBLISHED: 15:44 06 February 2020

Grunwick Strike background at Rise, official launch of Brent Borough of Culture 2020. Picture:@LBOC2020

Grunwick Strike background at Rise, official launch of Brent Borough of Culture 2020. Picture:@LBOC2020


Brent’s successful bid as borough of culture will be “transformative” and bring social and economic benefits if Waltham Forest’s experience is anything to go by.

City Hall's regeneration committee met on Tuesday, January 28 to grill culture chiefs on the likely impact of the Mayor of London's culture programme.

Phil Porter, Brent Council's head of wellbeing, and Lois Stonock, artistic director of Brent 2020 joined London's deputy mayor for culture and the creative industries, Justine Simons, and Lorna Lee, assistant for heritage and culture at Waltham Forest, which was the first borough of culture in 2019

Ms Simons said Waltham Forest's "bold vision" was "successful beyond our wildest dreams" adding it had a "really holistic impact both socially and economically".

"This year it's Brent" she added, "with a really exciting programme planned celebrating the diversity of the borough with young people very much at the heart of the programme."

She highlighted the "spectacular opening at Wembley", a mile long street party along Kilburn High road, a Reggae take over of Harlesden and "new work by Brent's very own Zadie Smith".

"Of course the Euro is happening next year too, the eyes of the world on Wembley and an opportunity to bring culture and sport together.

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"We know Brent 2020 will be transformative."

Set up by Sadiq Khan in 2017 the London Borough of Culture project shines a light on the character and diversity of the city's boroughs.

Brent 2020 has a budget of £4.6m, with more than £1m pledged by the council and £500,000 from the General London Assembly towards community projects.

Asked by committee chairman Tony Devenish whether there was difficulty in ensuring extra funding beyond the GLA, Mr Porter said the council has "learned a lot of lessons" from Waltham Forest.

"We've been fortunate, we had a long lead in time. We have, one of the reason we were so successful with the bid, low levels of engagement and low levels of cultural capacity.

"We've attracted nearly 800k through corporate sponsorship and we expect to go higher and we are continually working on that.

Asked how much of Brent's vision has come from young people. Ms Stonock said: "We started with a group of 12 young people from Brent who are still part of the programme now, they turned into he Blueprint Collective. We worked with them all through the bidding process to get the ideas of the programme together."

The group has now swelled to 82 and from next week one of its members will write a weekly column in the Times to keep the public in touch with what they are doing.

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