Music, theatre, dance and food part of Borough of Culture plans

Pic: David Parry PA

Lewisham’s Borough of Culture initiative, with events such as the opening a new low-carbon creative space named ‘Climate Home’ and a theatrical installation in the Albany titled ‘Sun and Sea’, has been announced by Mayor Damian Egan.

The initiative will be working alongside Lewisham Council to “tell the story of Lewisham’s trailblazers past and present.”

The programme, officially named We Are Lewisham, is a “call to action for a more equal future that celebrates the borough’s history and diverse communities.”

The opening celebration will take place on January 28, with various events “on the hour, every hour.” This will include live music, creative challenges, workshops and a collective dance moment.

The programme covers music, theatre, art, dance and food. Highlights including a mass dance taking place in October and an ‘In Living Memory’ event in which people will gather to “tell a striking new story of Lewisham’s recent past in their own words.”

Despite such a varied calendar of events, two of the most important parts of the initiative are not events at all. One, simply titled ‘Climate Emergency’, is an initiative aimed at “inspiring climate action.” This will include an artwork, Breathe: 2022, relating to the death of Lewisham’s Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah and the “growing battle for climate justice.”

The programme is the latest in a long line of initiatives that have been adopted by Lewisham council over the last year, all aimed at improving the quality of life for the borough’s 300,000 residents.

The council also adopted a new strategy to combat domestic abuse and violence against women, while mayor Damien Egan has previously emphasised his pledge to house refugee families.  

We Are Lewisham will tie in with such plans, as well as with the various community funding schemes offered this year and the next. As part of the celebrations, Lewisham council is offering a ‘Creative Change Fund’ for other cultural events and activities throughout the year.

In addition to its planned events, the council has “pledged to support local creativity and imagination” by pairing local schools, voluntary and community sector organisations with different artists so that the community can “lead on their own cultural activities.”

Speaking at the launch, mayor Damien Egan said that 2022 will “celebrate everything that is great about our borough” and will “showcase the incredible talents from Lewisham.”

“Our year as London Borough of Culture will be open to everyone… created with and by local people. We’ll be giving a platform to the very best of what Lewisham has to offer and we can’t wait to welcome people.”

According to its website, the initiative “puts culture at the heart of local communities” and helps to illuminate “the culture and diversity of London’s boroughs.”

Boroughs can submit bids “to receive more than £1m funding to deliver a programme of ambitious cultural events celebrating the unique character of local people and places.” Crucially, the initiative’s aim is that culture becomes “an integral part of the borough’s future.”

Speaking on the initiative, Sadiq Khan said: “Lewisham has unveiled an outstanding programme of events. The entire borough will be engaged in an incredible year of cultural activity and climate action.”

“Culture is our DNA and our programme has shown the power the arts have to inspire. Lewisham’s ambitious programme will show how culture can empower communities to pursue positive change. It is a fantastic opportunity”.

A detailed events programme can be found here.

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