London launched its first-ever Borough of Culture this year, a Mayor of London initiative partly inspired by Hull’s transformative year as UK City of Culture.
Waltham Forest is the first borough, before Brent takes over the mantle in 2020.
In 2017, during Hull’s year as UK City of Culture, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, visited Hull to see for himself the transformational effect it was having on the city as London prepared for launching its first London Borough of Culture.
Sadiq Khan met with key figures and organisations involved in Hull 2017, including council and creative leaders, artists, volunteers and people engaging and contributing to the year in various different ways.
Last year Waltham Forest and Brent were named as the first two London Boroughs of Culture by the Mayor of London.
Sam Hunt, creative director of Waltham Forest Borough of Culture 2019, is more than aware of the success of Hull 2017, having been an executive producer on Hull UK City of Culture 2017.
He said: “During my time in Hull I saw first-hand how a perfect storm of great art, strategic investment and the support of local residents can have a transformative impact on a city. London Borough of Culture shares the same ambitions as the UK City of Culture programme, to use the arts as a catalyst for change, place-making and connecting our communities.
“The team at Waltham Forest have been inspired by Hull’s success; from visiting the city to experience major events, to working closely with Hull City Council to understand how best to prepare for a cultural programme on this scale. The partnership has led to a new joint commission, Seeds of Change, which is being produced by Absolutely Cultured.”
Since 2017, Hull has offered support and guidance to those wishing to learn about the effect City of Culture has had on the city, and how Hull prepared for and then delivered its year-long programme of events.
As well as welcoming representatives from Waltham Forest and Brent, the city has also welcomed representatives from Coventry 2021, the next UK City of Culture, as well as people involved in delivering various different large-scale art and cultural projects from places all over the UK.
Councillor Stephen Brady, leader of Hull City Council, said: “2017 was a transformational year for Hull. The city embraced its year in the spotlight and continues to encourage creativity and the arts. We saw young people inspired by Hull 2017 and are now seeing the legacy of that with all the fantastic artistic enterprise that continues to shine in the city through organisations like Absolutely Cultured, Middle Child, Freedom Festival and Hull Truck, to name but a few.
“If Waltham Forest can channel that same pride, excitement and engagement that we saw in Hull, I’m sure they will experience another extraordinary year.”
Absolutely Cultured, the organisation born out of Hull 2017, continues to put on spectacular events in Hull as well as engaging and partnering with arts organisations throughout the UK.
In December, 60,000 people lined Hull’s streets for Urban Legends, an outdoor spectacular of projections and sound installations taking inspiration from ancient mythology, fairy tales and oral history.
Absolutely Cultured has worked in partnership with Waltham Forest on a co-commission titled Seeds of Change.
Katy Fuller, creative director and chief executive of Absolutely Cultured, said: “We wish Sam and the team at Waltham Forest Borough of Culture the very best as they begin their tenure as the first London Borough of Culture.
“They have developed an ambitious and exciting programme which I’m confident will delight and inspire audiences. We’ve seen what can happen when culture is used to breathe energy into a place and connect communities and the outcome is something truly magical.
“We’re excited to be part of this programme, working alongside Waltham Forest and Wirral to create a brand new outdoor touring spectacle. Building on the model of Hull 2017’s hugely successful flagship community engagement project, Land of Green Ginger, it will take inspiration from the unique characteristics of each place, weaving a story between the three places, connecting people and inspiring imagination and curiosity.”