Brent Borough of Culture 2020: Spectacular RISE show launches Brent's year as 'borough of cultures'
PUBLISHED: 15:56 20 January 2020 | UPDATED: 16:17 20 January 2020
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Huge crowds descended on Wembley Park to enjoy the spectacular outdoor launch of Brent's year as London Borough of Culture 2020.
Thousands attended the RISE opening celebrations on Saturday evening where many stories of migration and movement were powerfully told from a custom-built five storey-stage to showcase "Brent, the borough of cultures".
The 45 minute show took visitors on a visual journey through the origins of Metroland to the birth of Trojan Records and archive footage of the Grunwick Strikes all told through dance with a thumping music soundtrack.
More than 300 dancers from all sections of the community participated in bringing history to life.
With an "oggy oggy oggy" call out to the crowd General Levy brought the show to its dazzling, upbeat end.
General Levy said after the event: "It was very epic. I'm happy to be a part of it, and it's wonderful to see everybody from different cultures come together to celebrate our wonderful borough of Brent."
The London Borough of Culture project was set up by the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan in 2017.
He was in Brent for the launch and met young members of the Blueprint Collective - a group of young people at the centre of of every programme taking place this year- who told them about their 'Seen & Heard' project.
He went on to take selfies with dancers and volunteers.
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Asked why Brent was chosen above other borough's he said: "One of our key aims is that all Londoners get to enjoy culture. Brent had a really good plan(...) which involved young people in devising the programme and outreach workers to make sure everyone gets involved. That's from different socio economic backgrounds, different ethnic backgrounds, different religious backgrounds and different forms of culture. We can't be snobbish about culture."
Catherine Harris, one of the many community dancers, said: "It was a bit daunting, we didn't know how it was going to come together but it's been amazing."
Fellow dancer Christina Avery, 70, said: "It's been such fun, my best friend who's 68 came along and we've had the best time.
"Tonight I felt I was flying. At my age being able to dance with 20-year-olds who were so inspiring, they danced with me and did not see age. They saw a dancer."
Danny Mayer, ceo of community charity Ashford Place in Cricklewood was on stage representing the Irish community.
"It's great to have all the cultures recognised," he said. I was also happy to arrange the lovely dry weather."
Lois Stonock, artistic director of Brent 2020, said:"RISE was the opening event of the Mayor's London Borough of Culture in 2020. It chartered the waves of migration, movements, music and people that have made our borough. Over 300 people took part in it and thousands came to see it. It was a great start and showed what our programme is about - the people, history, and the cultures in our pocket of north west London.
Everyone is welcome - This is the Borough of Cultures.'
James Saunders, of Quintain, said: "Wembley Park is proud to be principle partner of Brent's year of culture to support this year-on celebration of culture in this most diverse borough."
Cllr Muhammed Butt, Brent Council leader, added: "Today we are officially launching the Brent borough of cultures, we are going to be celebrating every single individual and we'll make sure nobody is left behind."