Lewisham residents holding up a flag reading we are lewisham

Picture: wearelewisham

Yesterday, Lewisham Council unveiled its programme of events for its forthcoming spell as London Borough of Culture, with an opening ceremony at the historic Rivoli Ballroom on Brockley Road.

The event was hosted by the Mayor of Lewisham, Damien Egan, who said: “Lewisham’s year as London Borough of Culture will celebrate everything that is great about our borough.”

The ceremony also featured live performances by local dance groups, poets and musicians as well as speeches from the campaign’s organisers.

“London Borough of Culture in Lewisham will be a generous and wonderful gift to us all – it will give us back so many of the things we have really missed,” said Justine Simons, Deputy Mayor for Cultural and Creative Industries, who are responsible for selecting the winners every year.

Events will be taking place in venues across the borough from January 28 and are being organised by WeAreLewisham, a group set up specially for the task.

Some of the events announced at the ceremony include a theatrical installation entitled Sun & Sea, which won awards at 2019’s Venice Bienalle festival and will see ten tonnes of sand deposited in Deptford’s Albany Arts Centre to create an artificial beach on which a group of 13 vocalists will perform.

Also announced was the return of Lewisham People’s Day, South East London’s longest running free festival that celebrates the diversity of the borough’s different communities and which will return to Catford’s Mountsfield Park, after a four year break.

WeAreLewisham are also using the platform to highlight some of the more serious issues faced by Lewisham’s residents, describing the programme as “a call to action on the climate crisis,” that is “inspired by our borough’s rich history of activism and standing up for equality.”

Breathe: 2022, presented by the charity Invisible Dust will be one of the events that aims to tackle these issues.

The installation will feature a series of large artworks, placed at key locations along the South Circular, in memory of Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, the nine year old girl from Lewisham who was the first person in the UK to have air pollution listed as her cause of death after she passed away in 2013.

Lewisham initially won the bid to be LBC in 2021, but this was postponed due to the pandemic.

First introduced in 2017, the LBC is an annual award that sees each of London’s 32 boroughs bid for roughly £1.3 million in funding from City Hall.

The money can then be used to promote cultural and artistic initiatives with the aim of bringing residents together to celebrate their local areas.