Lewisham announces programme for London Borough of Culture

By Sam Wilson Ford

The £1.35m fuelled year-long programme of Lewisham’s London Borough of Culture festivities has been unveiled, including music, installations and dance.

Events will kick off with a series of borough-wide live music and dance performances on the hour, every hour, paving the way for We Are Lewisham’s ambitious programme focusing heavily on the borough’s vibrant musical pedigree and the climate emergency.

The Sadiq Khan initiative was postponed to January 2022, due to the pandemic. It was initially awarded in February 2020.

South East London’s longest-running free festival – Lewisham People’s Day – will return after a four year hiatus on July 16, with five stages hosting over 25,000 people at Mountsfield Park.

Other musical highlights include poetic work by the legendary dub poet and Goldsmiths graduate Linton Kwesi Johnson in May and Brockley-born MOBO nominee Novelist spotlighting Lewisham’s thriving Grime, Afrobeats and Drill scene at venues across the borough in October.

Lewisham has a rich musical heritage spanning decades, ranging from the Sound System pioneers Dennis Bovell and Jah Shaka, to the iconic 70s band Squeeze and the recent Grammy nominee MNEK.

Damien Egan, Mayor of Lewisham said: “The people who live in Lewisham know just how special Lewisham is and how fabulous our cultural scene is – now is our chance to show that to the rest of London and the rest of the country.

“We’ll be giving a platform to the very best of what Lewisham has to offer – from Catford to Crofton, Downham to Deptford, and Lewisham to Lee – and we can’t wait to welcome people to have a great time exploring our borough.”

Damien Egan, credit: David Parry/ PA Wire

Complimenting the array of musical performances, 2019’s Venice Biennale top prize winners will transform the Deptford Albany with ten tonnes of sand in June-July as sunbathing opera singers sing about the climate crisis.

An installation of a striking public artwork near the South Circular in April will also pay tribute to Lewisham’s Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah – the first person in the UK to have air pollution as a cause of death.

Her mother, Rosamund, continues to campaign on the issue of poor air quality and was recently at the COP26 conference lobbying delegates to tackle pollution.

Sadiq Khan, added: “Lewisham has unveiled an outstanding programme of events that will showcase the borough’s grassroots creativity, musical heritage and diverse community.

“The entire borough will be engaged in an incredible year of cultural activity and climate action with young Londoners at the heart of it all.

“Culture is our DNA and our London Borough of Culture programme has shown the power the arts have to inspire – bringing communities together and to celebrate world-class creativity right on their doorsteps.”

Lewisham is the third borough to host celebrations since the scheme was launched in 2019.

Celebrations will remain south of the river in 2023 with Croydon taking on the title next.

Pictured top: Dancers at the launch. Credit: David Parry/ PA Wire



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