Plans for London Borough of Culture 2023

With all the recent goings on (both local and global), plans for London Borough of Culture 2023 have felt suspiciously quiet of late.

Croydon won the accolade back in Feb 2020 with a campaign that centred around the borough’s “rich artistic heritage, creativity and diversity, and its strength and resilience as a town that always looks to the future, promoting inclusivity and ensuring no community is left behind”.

Having fended off competition from across the Capital, the title saw Croydon secure £1.35 million in funding from the Mayor to help bring the campaign to life.

It was a great achievement and the Borough of Culture 2023 title caused huge excitement and optimism across Croydon, with Councillor Oliver Lewis (cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport) summing up the mood with “We will show the rest of London and the world how the arts can empower communities to write their own futures and tell their own stories.”

And then – you know what happened and everything (understandably) went a bit quiet.

So, we were encouraged to hear Kristian Aspinall speak at last week’s Economic Summit at Boxpark. Having joined Croydon Council in November (after 7 years at Lambeth Council) Kristian is the Interim Director of Culture and Community Safety and the strategic lead for Croydon’s Borough of Culture plans.

Turns out, these plans are already underway and (launching in April next year), they are set to put the borough on the map as a destination for culture in the capital and beyond.

Kristian explained that Croydon’s greatest strength – its people – will be at the “heart of the programme” with an aim to involve every school, 1,500 artists and a huge network of residents from across Croydon.

A press release sent out a few weeks ago confirmed: “a steering group of 30 local artists and cultural organisations will shape the programme with local artists and grassroots cultural organisations able to bid for grants of up to £50,000 to deliver unique moments in all areas of the borough. The programme will be delivered by 15 local delivery partners, including three culture hubs – ensuring that it is truly led by the community with funding targeted to ensure that all Croydon’s communities, and residents of all ages, are involved”.

It went on to say, “As the birthplace of genres from punk to dubstep and the home of grime legend Stormzy, the borough’s rich musical heritage will take centre stage, with live music events and a new music heritage trail”.

This week, a new press release gave further insight on this Music Trail – “From bass to blues, Indian to indie, punk, rock and classical, the music trail will showcase Croydon’s role in a wide range of music genres. Locations representing musical events, artists and venues, selected by the community, will be the basis for the route and each point will have its own plaque and unique display of a historical music moment”.

So, things are sounding encouraging so far…we look forward to hearing (and sharing) more updates in due course 😉

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