Croydon’s bid to be named London Borough of Culture for 2019 will be submitted to the Mayor of London at the start of December.
If successful, the council will receive more than £1m to boost the borough’s cultural offer over the year. With the Fairfield Halls reopening at the end of 2018, following its £30m modernisation, the award would ensure the year will be packed full of high-quality events.
Councillor Timothy Godfrey, Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport, said: “The title will go to the borough which can best show how it would use the support to make a real difference – and I’m convinced we are that borough. This will be a chance to fundamentally enhance Croydon’s reputation, and the Borough of Culture title would underpin the billions of pounds currently being invested in regenerating the borough. We’ve never been in a better position to bring new cultural experiences to Croydon, and I firmly believe the judges will recognise this fact.”
At this week’s cabinet meeting a report was put forward, explaining how the bid has been put together by the council over the past few months in collaboration with dozens of local arts groups. It will focus heavily on the part that culture has to play in helping young people learn new skills and get jobs in careers that allow them to express their creativity. Other elements will emphasise how culture helps with health and well-being and with bringing communities together.
With its £1.1 million prize, the award of the title would kick-start an exciting year of festivals and events and would also see Croydon’s cultural programme promoted across the capital. A number of major sponsors are already signed up to support the year’s activities, and various celebrity names are lined up to be part of the celebrations should Croydon be successful when the results are announced in February.
Thousands of people have already voted online for Croydon in an ITV people’s poll. Although not a formal part of the judging process this shows how Croydon is clearly one of the strongest contenders when it comes down to public opinion.
Writing on the Croydon2019.London website, Elizabeth Williams, a local writer and volunteer explained why she thought Croydon deserved the title. She said: “Croydon is a beautiful place to live and should be proud of what is happening here.”
Another local resident, Hannah Sayers, added: “Croydon gets a bad rep and is underestimated. However, its untapped potential means we have a plethora of raw talent and diverse culture just waiting to be explored.”
Anyone wanting to add their support to Croydon’s bid can visit www.Croydon2019.London where they can sign up as a supporter; there is also a link to the ITV poll, where a vote can be cast with one click.