Lewisham: Borough of Culture

A public artwork unveiled last year commemorating the 1977 Battle of Lewisham

I was delighted to hear earlier this month that Goldsmiths’ home borough of Lewisham will be London Borough of Culture for 2021. This winning bid for Lewisham sees the borough awarded over £1m of funding to create a year of cultural events and initiatives.

I might be biased but Lewisham seems the perfect choice – and a timely one. There is a wealth of cultural infrastructure already in place here, and in the past year the borough has made important commitments to improving the lives of local people. These include pledges to become carbon neutral by 2030 as well as a sanctuary borough for hundreds of refugee families. 2019 also saw New Cross and Deptford awarded Creative Enterprise Zone status.

Next year will be an opportunity for us to celebrate a lot of what is great about London, but also a chance for us to highlight the problems many of its residents face today and have faced throughout its history.

Goldsmiths is to lead on delivering an exciting local history and cultural heritage programme as part of the celebrations: researchers from the College’s Department of History will work with local partners and residents to re-examine key events in Lewisham’s recent past, building on recent work to commemorate the Battle of Lewisham and planning future events to mark the 40th anniversary of the New Cross Fire and National Black People’s Day of Action in 2021. Consultation sessions with local residents will form a key part of the programme’s design.

I’m particularly excited for us to explore these historical events. This strikes me as an important part of the borough’s history and culture that has been sadly overlooked, and one that will really benefit from the spotlight that being Borough of Culture will provide.

I’m delighted that the College will also contribute to vital work aimed at increasing diversity in the creative industries, including a scheme to ensure all Year 7 pupils have access to information about creative careers before choosing their GCSE subjects.

I feel extremely proud of the role that Goldsmiths staff, students and alumni have already played in supporting Lewisham’s creative and cultural environment. Here at Goldsmiths local residents can see world-class art for free at Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art, and our on-site Curzon cinema is open to the public every evening and weekend.

Goldsmiths Centre for Contemporary Art. Credit: Mika Rottenberg

Lewisham’s year in the spotlight will also coincide with the launch of our new Enterprise Hub on New Cross Road, where local residents, Goldsmiths students and alumni will be able to get advice and support to set up their own business or social enterprise. The Hub aims to create more than 80 jobs in the Lewisham area.

I’m looking forward to seeing what further collaboration between the College, local partners and residents will achieve next year. By working together, I know that we can make headway on tackling some of the pressing issues facing our borough and those across London. And showcase the inspiring history and culture of this part of South East London.

You can find out more about Lewisham’s London Borough of Culture project at www.iamlewisham.uk. If you’d like to find out more about Goldsmiths’ contribution to Lewisham London Borough of Culture, please contact Will Cenci, Public Engagement Manager at Goldsmiths at w.cenci@gold.ac.uk.