Croydon has been named London Borough of Culture for 2023.
Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London, announced the decision at City Hall this morning. The “prize” is an additional £1.35million funding from the Mayor towards the borough’s cultural programme.
At the same event, Lewisham was named the Borough of Culture for 2021.
It is the first time that the “Borough of Culture” title has gone sarf of the river, so a sense that it is Buggin’s Turn is inevitable. Like a sports day at infants school where everyone gets a medal, Croydon got a prize because they turned up.
Croydon’s success for 2023 follows two previous failed bids. At least on this occasion, the Fairfield Halls was open when Croydon submitted its bid. By 2023, who knows, the works to refurbish the Fairfield might even be completed.
Croydon’s award shows how plying Amy Lame with drinks in Boozepark and trying for all you are worth to piggyback the successes of Stormzy and Banksy can really pay off.
As you might expect, Tony Newman – a bloke who can’t tell the difference between a 4.5 and 3.5 rating on TripAdvisor – had someone prepare a quote for him in advance.
“This is fantastic news – this award is for all of Croydon and everyone who has worked so hard in our bid,” Newman is supposed to have said.
“From Stormzy to our very own Shaniqua Benjamin, Croydon is the home of talent, with a rich music heritage as the birthplace of punk, grime and more, and we have an exciting future ahead.
“We are going to make 2023 a celebration of our town’s wonderful diversity and repay the Mayor’s belief in us. This is Croydon – and we are incredibly proud.”
Waltham Forest was London’s first Borough of Culture in 2019. This year, 2020, the Borough of Culture is Brent.
Brent 2020 – which has much of its programme centred around Wembley, where the stadium will be staging the final games of the Euro 2020 football championship – has a budget of £4.6million, with more than £1million pledged by the council and £500,000 from the GLA towards community projects. The borough has also attracted nearly £800,000 through corporate sponsorship.
The Mayor of London’s public relations exercise was, therefore, overdue an appointment with south London, and Lewisham and Croydon had the advantage that, unlike rival bidders Sutton, they are not a LibDem-controlled council. Sutton still gets a consolation prize, a £200,000 bung towards something or other.
According to a press release from City Hall, “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.”
There was no mention of whether shit shows and butt plugs will feature among the performances in the Town Hall chamber in 2023, as they did thanks to £50,000 of public money in 2018.
Mayor 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.”
Also among the glib and vacuous soundbytes on offer was the claim that “Culture is in our DNA”, made by Justine Simons, the deputy mayor for culture.
Mayor Khan was conspicuously present last September to re-open the Fairfield Halls after an extensive refurbishment which had over-run by 18 months and which has gone over-budget by at least £12.3million.
The Halls are certain to be at the centre of the Borough of Culture activities in 2023, though the operators of the venue will be hoping that their presentations there attract better audiences than they have managed in the first four months.
As Inside Croydon revealed last week, the prestigious Christmas pantomime, usually the biggest money-spinner in the venue’s annual offerings, sold barely half the available tickets, and as venue operators BH Live admitted at a council scrutiny meeting last night, against a business plan that calls for 45 per cent ticket sales, since September the Fairfield has been selling just 30 per cent.
Undaunted, Newman and his numpties are having a piss-up – at your expense – at the Fairfield Halls from 5pm this evening, where they say, “we’ll raise a glass to our bid partners, the Croydon cultural community and to our plans for 2023”.
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