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Lewisham launches its year as London Borough of Culture 2022 with music, art and dance

Lewisham launches its year as London Borough of Culture 2022, a Mayor of London initiative, with a borough-wide celebration, showcasing the power of culture and Lewisham’s diverse communities to bring about positive change.

Day One, in partnership with the Albany, will present a flavour of the exciting year ahead – a year that is only possible due the fantastic energy and creativity of Lewisham residents. This Friday 28 January, a day-long spectacle will be loud, bold and colourful, with culture popping up on doorsteps, at local businesses, schools, train stations, street corners and unexpected places across the borough. From Catford to Crofton, Downham to Deptford, and Lewisham to Lee, local people can be involved no matter their postcode. 

Taking place from dawn until dusk, Day One includes:

  • Commotions – a series of performances taking place across the borough’s transport hubs in partnership with community music groups and Trinity Laban. In Transport for London stations across the borough, We Are Lewisham roundels will also be unveiled.
  • Putting art on doorsteps with Artists in Residence popping up all across the borough, led by renowned poet Jacob Sam-La Rose. Artists will use different mediums of art – from spoken word to Stomp!-style workshops – and involve the local community in the creation of new work in unusual places across the borough.
  • UK premiere of Identity Tapestry by US artist Mary Corey March, in Lewisham Shopping Centre. Lewisham residents and creatives are invited to weave their identity on the Tapestry, creating a beautiful and enduring artwork representing the story of our borough, to be displayed in Lewisham Shopping Centre throughout the year.
  • We Are Lewisham – a film showcasing different residents and celebrating the community of Lewisham, projected onto buildings in the borough and culminating with a showing on the infamous Piccadilly Lights at 6.30pm, in partnership with Landsec, shining Lewisham’s spirit across London.
  • The first Creative Challenge – the LBoC BOP, with 40 schools across the borough dancing the official LBoC BOP choreographed by IRIE! Dance Theatre.

The borough-wide opening celebration pays homage to Lewisham’s history of activism and showcases the local talent that calls Lewisham home today. The inspirational programme will provide a platform for the voices of local people and inspire action through art, music, performance, poetry, discussion and debate - highlighting the power of culture to create change and putting key issues that affects its residents most at the heart of the programme – diversity, equalities and climate.

The London Borough of Culture programme places culture at the heart of local communities and celebrates the unique character of local people and places. It uses culture to empower communities and transform young people’s lives and has been a huge success in engaging local communities and children in shared projects and events.

Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, said: “Lewisham has a rich history of activism, diversity and talent, and I’m delighted that their year as London Borough of Culture is beginning with this inspiring day of art and performances in every corner of the borough. The aim of London Borough of Culture is to bring creativity to Londoners’ doorsteps and this incredible programme is doing exactly that as it develops skills, supports local business and provides opportunities for young people. I’m proud the programme continues to bring people together to celebrate our communities and show that culture is for everyone.”

Damien Egan, Mayor of Lewisham, said: “I am thrilled that our year as London Borough of Culture is almost here. Day One will set the tone for what is going to be a fantastic year celebrating our diversity and creativity, and bringing us together as we use culture as a platform for change, especially on those issues that we know matter to our local people – equalities, inclusivity and the climate emergency.

“Lewisham is such a special place and this programme will shine a light on our local talents and truly put people at the heart of it. Throughout the year, I hope people will experience something new, get out and about exploring the borough and above all have a good time and see all that Lewisham has to offer.”

Gavin Barlow, Creative Director of We Are Lewisham and Chief Executive/Artistic Director of the Albany, said: “We’re excited to kick off Lewisham’s year as London Borough of Culture with a day full of music, dance, performance, visual art and more that encapsulates the spirit of the borough and the year ahead. Working in partnership with Lewisham Council, we’re looking forward to going beyond the walls of the Albany’s Deptford home on a bigger scale than ever before. With an ambitious programme that will bring great art and culture to the doorsteps of Lewisham residents, we’re looking forward to celebrating our diverse communities and history, as well as bringing people together again.”

Cllr André Bourne, Cabinet Member for Culture said: “It is so exciting that we are finally launching our year as London Borough of Culture 2022. The day will be a spectacle, and so will the rest of the year, seeking to involve as many of our residents, businesses and schools in Lewisham as possible. Culture should be accessible to all and we will make sure it is, with a programme curated by local people for local people.”

We Are Lewisham will put critical issues at its centre, amplifying trailblazing voices past and present and inspiring positive change by bringing together the borough’s neighbourhoods, communities and stories. The programme has been created with the community and celebrates all corners of the borough. Other milestones in the programme include: 

  • A dance spectacular by Alleyne Dance and IRIE! Dance Theatre, with a cast of over 200 local performers celebrating the contribution of migration to the borough.
  • Revolution Though Music, a celebration of Lewisham’s activist history and its rich contribution to music in Britain, kick starting in March with a series of gigs curated by Dave Okumu.
  • Breathe 2022, a striking new public artwork about air pollution by artist Dryden Goodwin and Invisible Dust that pays tribute to Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah.
  • UK premiere of the award-winning climate change artwork Sun & Sea, Golden Lion winner at the Venice Biennale.
  • Climate Home, a new, low carbon creative space designed and led by young people.
  • Lewisham People’s Day is back, after a four year hiatus. South East London’s longest running free festival will feature hundreds of live performances across multiple stages.

Lewisham’s landmark creative institutions; Trinity Laban, Goldsmiths University of London, the Rivoli Ballroom, the Albany and the Horniman Museum, will be part of the We Are Lewisham programme, which will also explore the historical depth of the borough and immigration, and will bring different generations, artists and members of the community together to create a lasting legacy of positive change.

There are plenty of options for local residents, groups and businesses to get involved. Locals who wish to run their own events and activities can apply for funding through the Creative Change Fund from 9 February. Anyone wishing to volunteer can find opportunities through the Council’s volunteering partner, Lewisham Local. While a new London Borough of Culture Business Advisor will support local businesses, ensuring they maximise the opportunities the programme offers. Our education partner Lewisham Education Arts Network (LEAN) is working with local schools to help them to make the most of the year.

Further details are available at wearelewisham.com.

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