7 August 2020

Brent 2020 is today unveiling its programme of events for the rest of its year as London Borough of Culture.

Grassroots creativity will be at the heart of the plans that include a digital music festival and visual arts programme across the borough, alongside an extensive series of ongoing work to inspire young people.

A pioneering online programme has been taking place since lockdown restrictions were introduced in March with events for the community and young people across the borough, including video series, podcasts and a cultural leadership programme.

For the rest of the year creativity across the borough will be centre stage, empowering young people and commissioning and investing in Brent’s artists to support the cultural eco-system in the borough. They include:

The Harlesden Bass Weekender, a celebration of reggae culture, reimagined as a digital festival.

A major visual arts programme, by Brent 2020, including the Museum of All Brent Life. Original art commissions and projects will pop up across the borough in civic buildings, public spaces and the streets of Brent, created by both Brent-based and international artists including Rasheed Araeen, Imran Qureshi, Dhelia Snoussi and Jude Wacks.

The Brent Anthem. Brent Music Service (BMS) is creating a Brent Anthem in collaboration with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, award-winning composer and music leader James Redwood, the poet Momtaza Mehri, and more than 8,000 Brent school children and young members of BMS orchestras. A recording will be released later this year.

Due to conditions imposed by the exceptional circumstances of Covid-19 and in consultation with its partners Brent Council and the GLA, it will not be possible to stage the Kilburn High street party and The SSE Arena, Wembley concert as previously planned. The two shows due to take place at the Kiln Theatre, The Wife of Willesden by Zadie Smith and NW Trilogy, are postponed. The intention is that they will both take place in 2021.

Throughout lockdown, Brent 2020 has been supporting artists and young people, and will continue to deliver:

The Blueprint Collective. A cultural leadership scheme developed by and with the young people of Brent. The Collective is giving the opportunity for young people to help deliver Brent 2020 and contribute to their community. The work has included Seen and Heard – a campaign created with the London School of Economics, asking for better public spaces for young people in London.

Brent Locked In. A video series made during lockdown, hosted by members of the Blueprint Collective, exploring how Brent heroes and legends had been shaped by the borough and how they are coping in lockdown. With more than 350,000 views, interviews have included Kilburn born poet Ian Duhig; author and film-maker Guy Gunaratne, born in Neasden; Willesden born actor and playwright and Noughts + Crosses star Paterson Joseph; British-Ghanaian writer and curator Ekow Eshun, born in Wembley; Neasden-born Bilal Harry Khan, life-long youth worker, a leading voice on issues of race, masculinities and social justice; Global Teacher Prize 2018 winner and Brent’s Alperton community School art teacher, Andria Zafirakou; ragga deejay, artist and Brent legend General Levy; 2008 Olympic medallist. Marilyn Okoro, who grew up in Stonebridge; England and Arsenal legend Rachel Yankey OBE, the first professional female football player registered in England.

The VICE Partnership. Across 55 weekly episodes and 3 documentary series, these podcasts are created by and with young people as part of the largest and most ambitious platform for engagement with young people ever undertaken by a London Borough. The podcasts have given a platform for young people to debate the issues that really concern them relating to health, creativity, discrimination, racism, empowerment of women.

The Metroland Cultures Fund, a £25,000 grant scheme established in lockdown, supported 25 Brent-based artists and creatives to continue their practice at a crucial time when their incomes have been devastated by Covid-19. The Metroland Cultures charity will take forward the legacy of change in Brent, created by its role as London 2020 Borough of Culture.

Over 100 volunteers have donated over 1000 hours, continuing to support the digital programme during lockdown as well as the work of other Brent-based cultural organisations.

Cllr. Muhammed Butt, of London Borough of Brent, said today: “Now more than ever we are committed to making the very best of our year as London’s Borough of Culture. A year that will go down in all of our histories. We are excited to be continuing our programme of events this autumn, working closely with our community in Brent. We are disappointed that we are not able to proceed with some events that were planned for large-scale gatherings of the public, but the safety and wellbeing of everyone involved, artists and public, has to be our primary concern.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “Brent 2020 has delivered a fantastic online series of events during these challenging times, and I’m delighted that grassroots creativity and young people will be at the heart of the next stage of their plans. By bringing original artwork to the streets, continuing to work closely with young people and celebrating the borough’s rich music history, Brent 2020 will continue to support and inspire the community through culture and creativity.”

Frequently asked questions

Q: What is being done with the funds that were not spent on The Kilburn High street party and The SSE Arena, Wembley concert?

We had been working to a £4.6m budget for the entire Brent 2020 programme. We needed to raise an additional £1.5m through fundraising and were on track to meet this through a number of funding bids with trusts and foundations. Due to the impact of Covid-19, all of these funds have changed to emergency response funding streams and we no longer qualify for them. By not moving ahead with the Kilburn High and the Arena Gig, we reduce the deficit in our budget rather than creating any cash that could be spent elsewhere. The budget we are now working with to deliver the projects named in the bid is £3.1 million.

Q: What is the £3.1m budget made up of?

Our budget is made up from £1.35 million from the GLA, £1 million from Brent Council and £0.75 million from Trusts, Foundations and Businesses

What has been achieved via the Brent 2020 programme to date?

In addition to the projects mentioned in the statement, the programme has delivered the following:

  • £500,000 has been awarded through the Culture fund to 53 organisations and artists in Brent.
  • Delivery of the Seen and Heard project through a series of workshops which has, developed a charter and recommendations on how public space should be developed for young people led by the Blueprint Collective with LSE Cities
  • Delivery of the Blueprint Collective Cultural Leadership programme for over 150 young people in the borough
  • 72 schools and educational settings involved in Brent 2020 education programme
  • The development and delivery of the Brent Artist Network which now has 446 members and has delivered 4 physical events and 4 digital events to support collaboration, growth and exchange for the local creative sector.
  • £25k awarded through the Metroland Cultures Fund to support 25 artists in Brent over the Covid-19 lockdown period
  • RISE the opening event of the Brent 2020, London Borough of Culture