Ajay Chabra

Uncovering hidden stories through the London Borough of Culture

27 June 2018

Ajay Chhabra, Artistic Director of Nutkhut and the London Mela, shares his thoughts on the winning boroughs for the London Borough of Culture, his interest in the outdoors and the coming together of different generations.

It has been an exciting few months, since the winners of the London Boroughs of Culture for 2019 and 2020 were announced by the Mayor in London’s Living Room. The heartfelt joy expressed by both winning teams was clearly genuine and honest. Both bids, in different ways, captured the exciting ‘spirit of culture’ when partnerships, people, artists and communities come together.
 
I’m a huge fan of the big outdoors and I’m a bigger fan of the coming together of different generations of communities and families. London has both in abundance. With many stories to tell, woven within its architecture, within its parks, its rivers, its canals and marshes. Each of these places have epic narratives alongside the single voices of the lived experience.
 
It is these individual voices, these new voices and these intergenerational voices which are beginning to shape our city alongside the familiar narratives. Bringing the private into the public and how I often describe, ‘bringing the voices of the living room, the front room, the sitting room into the public square.’
 
Both winning boroughs captured the essence of bringing out these hidden stories and histories and inextricably weaving them across generations.
 
As I look forward to both Waltham Forest and Brent’s cultural activity, it’s clear that the London Borough of Culture competition has had a powerful effect on many of the other boroughs who entered the completion, with culture no longer on the side-lines.
 
From a whisper to a loudhailer, from the living room to the public arena, this was never just a competition, this was a process of building confidence in communities through the spirit of culture!

Upoming events from the winners of London Borough of Culture

To see a preview of the first ever London Borough of Culture winner Waltham Forests’ plans for 2019 – join them at their annual Walthamstow Garden Party on 14 & 15 July.

And London Borough of Culture 2020 winners, Brent, have opened a Windrush 70 exhibition at the Library in Willesden Green, exploring Brent’s Caribbean heritage through the eyes of their residents.