Merton Named One Of Six London Boroughs For Cultural Impact Award

Merton Named One Of Six London Boroughs For Cultural Impact Award

Posted by Jenny Booth | 27 February 2018 | Arts & Culture, Community Spirit, Magazine, News

Merton has emerged one of the winners in the Mayor of London’s Borough of Culture Awards and is to put on a year-long festival of cutting edge film and virtual reality.

Waltham Forest won the big prize of being London’s first ever Borough of Culture, attracting up to £1.5million of funding for a 2019 cultural programme. But Merton was named one of the six boroughs to win a Cultural Impact Award, and will be given a share of £850,000 in extra funding for the arts.

“Last but not least – Merton!” said Mr Khan. A massive cheer rang out around the Polka Theatre, which had kindly agreed to host a party to greet the announcement.

The money – a generous consolation prize – will be shared with Barking and Dagenham, Camden, Kingston, Lambeth and Luton. The choir from St Teresa’s RC Primary School in Wimbledon gave a wonderful, finger-clicking rap performance of Stormzy’s “I’m Blinded By Your Grace”.

“Something Inside So Strong could almost be the theme tune to our bid,” said Councillor Nick Draper, the Merton Council cabinet member for culture. “People feared we weren’t good enough, but we did it anyway! This will go on and on, and be the start of great stuff for Merton, showing everyone just how great the borough is”

Merton cultural leaders and creative people listened to Mr Khan on live video link from City Hall, clapping approvingly as he said: “There’s no doubt London is the greatest city in the world, overflowing with creativity and pulsing with imagination. These awards will cement our position as the cultural capital of the world.”

Mr Khan had kind words for all of the 22 boroughs who took part in the competition, successful and unsuccessful. “Even if you haven’t won you can hold your head up high, as you’ve created an exciting new blueprint for culture in your borough.”

Councillor Draper said, “Let me tell you what we have won as a result of the work they have done. We are going to have a year long festival of film, with 24 short film seasons at pop-up locations around the borough.”

Speaking directly to the children from St Teresa’s, Cllr Draper said: “Like Pokemon Go! we are going to have an augmented reality installtion for the borough. It’s going to be great fun. Last of all, we’re going to have virtual reality festival, showcasing the films and putting us on the map for technology. This is going to be good. You’re going to be a whole year of film of virtual reality, of fun.”

Councillor Linda Kirby, a board member of the Merton bid, said: “We may not have won first prize but we have developed a cultural strategy which is superb, and I’m looking forward to seeing that put into practice, as well as the film festivals.”

The steering committee of the Merton bid will meet this Thursday to start planning the film festival.

Speaking before the results were announced, Justine Simons, London’s Deputy Mayor for Culture, spoke of the importance of culture not just to London’s creative life and sense of community and identity, but also as a major motor for its economy.

“Four out of five visitors to London say they come for the culture,” said Ms Simons “This award is about ambition, civic pride, and everyone getting involved. What’s really clear is that culture matters for London and Londoners.

“It feels like there is no going back now, the genie is out of the bottle and culture and creativity are here to stay.”

About The Author

Jenny Booth

Jenny was a news journalist for The Times. An ex-teacher, mum, gardener and art lover, there’s nothing she doesn’t know about the local culture scene…

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