Lewisham reveals plans for 2022 London borough of culture

Lewisham has unveiled plans for its year as London borough of culture 2022, which will see a theatre transformed into a beach by ten tonnes of sand.

Damien Egan, Lewisham’s mayor, revealed the programme at the iconic Rivoli Ballroom, after the borough won its bid for more than £1m of funding to stage a series of events at venues across the borough next year.

Sun & Sea, taking place in the Albany, stunned audiences at the 2019 Venice Biennale, earning the coveted Golden Lion award.

The theatrical installation, running from June 23 until July 10, features 13 vocalists performing on a beach scene, brought to life by an all-female creative team.

Damien Egan Mayor of Lewisham said: “Lewisham’s year as London Borough of Culture will celebrate everything that is great about our borough and showcase the incredible talents from Lewisham.

“From famous names performing in brilliant venues to inspiring events in our parks and schools and celebrations of the music and events that have defined us – our year as London Borough of Culture will be open to everyone, with events popping up across the whole borough; in our markets, local businesses and on street corners, created with and by local people.

“We’ll be giving a platform to the very best of what Lewisham has to offer – from Catford to Crofton, Downham to Deptford, and Lewisham to Lee – and we can’t wait to welcome people to have a great time exploring our borough.”

Other highlights include a public art exhibition inspired by nine-year-old girl Ella Adoo-Kissi-Debrah, who died from chronic asthma brought on pollution.

Breathe: 2022 will see oversized stop-frame artworks placed at key sites close to the busy South Circular Road, which lived just 25 metres away Ella lived.

Presented by charity Invisible Dust, it will be created by artist Dryden Goodwin.

Five participants from local activist groups, including Choked Up, Mums for Lungs and the Ella Roberta Family Foundation, will sit for Goodwin to be drawn and recorded as they “fight to breathe”.

As people pass the work, the frames will appear to animate and is hoped it provokes empathy, with drivers taking an involuntary “gasp for breath”.

The ‘We are Lewisham’ programme will also include an outdoor dance spectacle taking place in Beckenham Place Park, featuring an intergenerational cast of over 200 local performers.

Revolution Through Music, a series of performances across the borough, will tell the story of Lewisham’s activist musical heritage, celebrating grassroots movements such as Rock Against Racism in the 1970s.

Artists such as Dave Okumu, Novelist and Linton Kwesi Johnson will showcase Lewisham diverse musical scene.

Lewisham People’s Day, south east London’s longest running free festival, will also return to Mountsfield Park after a four-year hiatus, featuring hundreds of performances across multiple stages.

Other highlights include Sonic Phô, which will bring food and stories from the largest Vietnamese community in London together in one unique audio experience.

Liberty Festival will showcase ground-breaking art, performance and interactive installations from D/deaf, disabled and neurodiverse artists.

The voices of young people from diverse backgrounds at the centre of climate justice in Climate Home, a new low carbon pop-up creative space based in Deptford.

Introduced by Sadiq Khan in 2017, the London borough of culture award has so far featured Waltham Forest in 2019, and Brent in 2020. 

Lewisham won the 2021 bid, which was deferred to 2022 due to the pandemic. 

You can view the full programme and find out how to get involved here.

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