London Borough of Culture
— 4 Oct 2017, 20:43
The contest is underway to find the corner of London that best represents the heart, soul and character of the capital city; for the first time ever, London is about to crown its first ever 'Borough of Culture', and Croydon is in the running to be the primary champion.
The initiative was brought into play by London Mayor Sadiq Khan and aims to reward one borough in 2019 and another in 2020. The winners will receive a generous split of £2.8million, to go towards improving and developing the local culture and generating artistic initiatives for the community.
'The great thing about culture is not only the economic boom it brings to London... but it enriches our lives, it nourishes the soul, it brings communities together, it heals division. Good culture is for the rich and poor, old and young, no matter your ethnicity or faith.'
Competition is exceedingly high. All competing boroughs are expected to expertly demonstrate their current cultural contributions, projects and local gems.
It's little wonder that Croydon is a current front runner for the top prize. The borough is evolving at a staggering rate whilst keeping the community feel and homegrown projects that make it feel so connected and unique. Perceptions of Croydon are rapidly shifting, the negative reputation is finally beginning to subside as music, retail, food, community and street art make the headlines in place of controversial matters.
The play-it-safe idea that you have to head into East London for a good night out, or to experience something different, is old news. Croydon is representing the south in a big, big way, for example, did you know that Croydon is now the street art capital of London. Some of the world's most renowned artists have partnered up with the RISE Gallery to transform Croydon into a maze of vivid colours, bold statements and irresistible images.
Music is also top of Croydon's agenda these days. The legendary Fairfield Halls is due a massive £30million development and a 2019 relaunch as south London's premium concert hall. The surrounding area will also see a South Bank style makeover as it becomes the sleekest place to wine, dine and be entertained. Croydon's BRIT School has given us some of the most beloved and iconic stars in modern music, including Amy Winehouse and Adele, and it continues to instil a sense of passion and creativity in its students today.
The arrival of Boxpark, outside East Croydon station, also brought big musical events to the borough. Earlier this year, multi-award winning artist, Stormzy took to the main stage in his hometown to deliver a knock out surprise performance in the wake of his debut album, Gang Sign & Prayer. Over the summer, Boxpark was graced with standout performances from Shift K3Y and Croydon's very own London Mozart Players, as well as the stellar Brunch n Beats event with Capita Xtra and a host of top DJs including, the legendary Tim Westwood.
Boxpark Croydon has also helped to revitalise the flagging dubstep scene which lost traction in its birthplace with the closure of the much loved Black Sheep Bar in 2013. There is also a calendar of regular events that support pioneering artists and musicians, including both established and emerging talent, and these events are mostly held with the help of local groups and community lead projects.
Croydon artists are also ploughing their way into the mainstream with the likes of Krept & Konan and Nadia Rose, whose tracks and videos have racked up millions of online plays. In fact, Nadia's video for 'Skwod' was filmed in Croydon's Surrey Street Market - presumably on a Sunday.
There are a number of incredible homegrown projects at work and none of these would be successful without the commitment and diversity of the people of Croydon.
Croydon has more young people than any other borough in London. It also boasts the largest Afro-Caribbean population in the capital, amongst a plethora of residents from all around the globe. It is because of this that Croydon is home to some of the finest dining spots in the country and has a vast calendar of events supporting music and culture from around the world, like the recent COLOURS event with Croydon Mela.
Whilst various pockets of London have been vastly changed and effected by gentrification and redevelopments, Croydon's heart and soul has remained unshaken, and, if anything, has continued to thrive, despite the odds. Though there are times of uncertainty ahead, it's clear that the people of Croydon are devoted to preserving and celebrating everything that makes their borough so wonderful and unique.
I've barely scratched the surface of the brilliantly innovative events and enterprises that are shaping Croydon into the cultural core of the city. There is so much to see, do and experience and it's only getting better, and Boxpark is proud to be a part of Croydon.
IF YOU WANT TO SEE CROYDON WIN LONDON BOROUGH OF CULTURE 2019 THEN HEAD TO THE ITV POLL AND CAST YOUR VOTE NOW.
For more information, you can head to the official Croydon 2019 homepage and learn more about the fantastic work taking place in the borough. Also, be sure to check out the video, above, from the brilliant team at White Hut Studios and Croydon Council.