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Brent Borough of Culture 2020: Programme launch promises to shine a light on our diverse community

PUBLISHED: 09:30 12 November 2019 | UPDATED: 13:08 12 November 2019

Brent Borough of Culture 2020 opening ceremony, Rise. Picture: Brent Council

Brent Borough of Culture 2020 opening ceremony, Rise. Picture: Brent Council

Archant

A mile-long street party, pop concert in Wembley Stadium and a new anthem for the capital will put Brent on the map as a London Borough of Culture 2020.

Lois Stonock, artist director of Brent Borough of Culture2020. Picture: Brent CouncilLois Stonock, artist director of Brent Borough of Culture2020. Picture: Brent Council

Deputy mayor for culture and creative industries Justine Simons and Lois Stonock, the artistic director of Brent 2020, launched the cultural programme for the year at the Kiln Theatre, in Kilburn High Road this morning.

Set up by Sadiq Khan in 2017 the London Borough of Culture shines a light on the character and diversity of the city's boroughs and reinforces the message that culture is for everyone.

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

Ms Simons said: "Next year Brent will inspire the whole of London and beyond. We know that Brent 202 is going to be transformative, it's going to change lives, it's going to create new friendships, reimagine places and build civic pride.

DJ and Film director Don Letts. Picture: Brent CouncilDJ and Film director Don Letts. Picture: Brent Council

To sum up, the future is bright, the future is Brent."

In an exclusive chat before the event Ms Stonock gave an inside track on the last 18 months of in depth preparation to make this a year of celebration of all things Brent.

"2020 will be the first year that we'll probably not be part of the European Union. We want this year, when we've got the eyes of Europe looking on us with European football cup final at Wembley Stadium, to show what a diverse community looks like, why it's great and all the brilliant things that have come from that. That's everything from the Grunwick Strike to Trojan Records and all the amazing Caribbean artists that have come out from living and working here," she said.

The nice thing about winning the bid in 2019 is we've spent the last year and half working with the community to co-design every single one of the programmes.

Zadie Smith. Picture: Brent CouncilZadie Smith. Picture: Brent Council

"The vibe is very much about reflecting the borough and what is brilliant about it.

Who are the amazing people, what are the movements, what's interesting, and what's happened in Brent over the last 120 years that we want to talk about."

At the heart of the 2020 programme, along with the 143 volunteers, is the Blueprint Collective. "Part bootcamp, part pressure group", it is a network of 72 young people aged 16 to 30 who are helping shape the borough of culture.

They are on the board which chooses which 60 or so community projects will get some of the £500,000 funding from the GLA.

Dusk aerial view of Wembley Park and Wembley Stadium. Picture: Jason HawkesDusk aerial view of Wembley Park and Wembley Stadium. Picture: Jason Hawkes

Four themes run throughout the year, which will come up "again and again" in different shapes and forms, many not even created yet.

"Rebellion" will cover iconic moments in the borough such as the Grunwick Strike - the industrial dispute in Dollis Hill involving trade union recognition that led to a two-year strike between 1976 and 1978.

A giant mural is to be created in tribute to former Kingsbury High School pupil George Michael to celebrate the work he did around LGBTQ rights.

"Roads" recognises Brent's 21 tube stations and the major roads running through the borough.

Brent Borough of Culture 2020 opening ceremony, Rise. Picture: Brent CouncilBrent Borough of Culture 2020 opening ceremony, Rise. Picture: Brent Council

In July the Kilburn High Road will be closed for a big street party recognising the migration of Irish people who travelled from Holyhead down the A5 to London.

The third is "Reggae". Trojan Records and Island records started here, Bob Marley lived in Neasden. In October "No Bass LIke Home" will include walks and talks around Harlesden.

"Raheem" stands for " all these brilliant individuals and heroes who come from the borough, Raheem Sterling, Zadie Smith, all kinds of amazing people," added Ms Stonock.

A new anthem To London from Brent is being written for release in February, young people are writing a Young People's Charter on how 15 to 20-year-olds want to be involved in development plans as part of their "Seen & Heard" campaign that will launch in January. "They want to be seen so that they feel safe but they don't want to be heard by other people," she said.

Lois Stonock, artist director of Brent Borough of Culture2020. Picture: Brent CouncilLois Stonock, artist director of Brent Borough of Culture2020. Picture: Brent Council

The 2020 team are in talks with Metropolis Music to put on a pop gig in September for 12,500 residents in Wembley Arena. "It won't be free but £5 tickets will acknowledge we have this brilliant venue that has these brilliant UK and world acts but a lot of the time people can't afford it.

"Acts will be announced later. We want big names, people who are in the charts and everyone's really excited about, something everybody wants to come to. Just a big treat, a fun pop concert. It would be rude not to."

"Rise", in January, is the opening launch day in front of Wembley Stadium. With a local community cast of hundreds, it will tell the story of Brent through dance, projection, film, and an booming soundtrack.

Organisers are on the hunt for people who live, study or work in Brent to take part in it.

Zadie Smith. Picture: Brent CouncilZadie Smith. Picture: Brent Council

Visitbrent2020.co.uk/programmes/rise

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