Lewisham and Croydon named as London Boroughs of Culture

11 February 2020
  • Mayor announces Lewisham as London Borough of Culture 2021 and Croydon as London Borough of Culture 2023
  • Both boroughs will receive funding to host a year-long programme designed to bring Londoners together and celebrate their communities
  • Hammersmith & Fulham, Haringey and Sutton receive the Mayor's Cultural Impact Award for grassroots schemes and projects


The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, today (11 February) announced that Lewisham has been awarded the title of London Borough of Culture for 2021 with Croydon winning the accolade for 2023.

Both boroughs will be awarded £1.35million of funding1 to deliver a year-long programme of activities that will place culture at the heart of their communities and celebrate the unique character of local people and places.

The London Borough of Culture award, a key manifesto commitment, was launched by Sadiq in June 2017, inspired by the UK City and European Capital of Culture programmes. The award uses culture to empower communities and transform young people’s lives.

Lewisham‘s bid, Cultural Activism, sets out plans to inspire local people to take action on climate change. The borough will celebrate its diversity and build inclusivity with hundreds of events throughout the year. This includes an artist-led tribute to The Rock Against Racism movement, a large-scale dance performance and a climate change carnival.

Croydon’s bid, This is Croydon, has sustainability at its heart. Tens of thousands of Croydon residents will enjoy a series of inspirational events along the themes of progress, nature, inclusion and growth. It includes art commissions with local communities, a music festival, A ‘reuse and recycle’ fashion show and the creation of employment opportunities for young people.

Hammersmith & Fulham, Haringey and Sutton will all receive up to £200,000 each to deliver individual cultural projects after being chosen for a Cultural Impact Award. Hammersmith & Fulham will run a music training programme for excluded young people. Haringey will host a large scale, curated feast raising funds for food banks and Sutton will host a community co-curated science-inspired laser and light show event.

The inaugural London Borough of Culture, Waltham Forest, was a great success with more than 1,000 cultural events, workshops and activities taking place in 2019, involving every school in the borough. Brent is the London Borough of Culture for 2020 and began its year with a mass participation event with more than 300 local residents and young people performing in front of Wembley Stadium.

The success of the London Borough of Culture programme has captured global imagination, with Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires, now running their own ‘Barrios Creativos' programme, inspired by London.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Culture has the power to bring communities together and transform young people’s lives, and I’m very proud of the impact that our programme has already had in Waltham Forest and Brent. Lewisham and Croydon have set out bold and exciting plans that will use culture to deliver real change in their boroughs, and I’m already looking forward to seeing their plans come to life.”

Deputy Mayor for Culture and Creative Industries, Justine Simons OBE, said: “Culture is in our DNA. It’s on every doorstep and around every corner, and we wanted to use the London Borough of Culture to celebrate this. We wanted to give grassroots creativity the chance to shine and show how culture can inspire and unleash the potential of young Londoners – and that’s exactly what happened. We’ve seen from their bids that Lewisham and Croydon are brimming with great ideas to build on this success, and their amazing events will shine a spotlight on the rich culture, heritage and hidden gems in their boroughs.”

Mayor of Lewisham, Damien Egan said: “I’m delighted we have been awarded Borough of Culture 2021! This is an incredible opportunity for Lewisham and I couldn’t be more proud to be Lewisham’s Mayor, working alongside so many amazing creatives and artists. Our year will showcase what Lewisham has to offer the rest of London and the UK by harnessing the passion and creativity of our cultural sector and the people of Lewisham and channelling this into a programme which will face up to the most significant challenge facing our planet, the climate emergency.”

Leader of Croydon Council, Councillor Tony Newman said: “This is fantastic news – this award is for all of Croydon and everyone who has worked so hard in our bid. From Stormzy to our very own Shaniqua, Croydon is the home of talent, with a rich musical heritage as the birthplace of punk, grime and more, with an exciting future ahead. We are going to make 2023 a celebration of our town’s wonderful diversity, make everyone proud and repay the Mayor’s belief in us. This is Croydon – and we are incredibly proud.”

Notes to editors

Seven boroughs were invited to City Hall to present their bids to an expert panel, who then made recommendations to The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and Deputy Mayor for Culture and Creative Industries, Justine Simons OBE.


Following the successful inaugural London Borough of Culture awards and in consultation with London boroughs, it was decided that the next round would be for 2021 and 2023. This allows more time for partnerships, resources and ambitious cultural programmes to be developed.


 1Funding for London Borough of Culture


The two winning London Boroughs of Culture (2021 and 2023) will each receive £1.35 million.

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