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Two-year cultural programme to come to high streets in seven London boroughs

  • By Jim Ranger

Partnership press release

International event producer Serious to work with seven London boroughs to bring a two-year cultural programme to their high streets.

We are delighted to announce The Streets, an ambitious and dynamic arts programme across seven outer London boroughs in 2015 and 2016. The major two-year deal will bring high quality arts and culture to high streets, where local residents and visitors can expect to be surprised as a new soundscape wakes up their streets.

Acclaimed live music and event producer Serious will work with recently formed consortium of boroughs - Waltham Forest, Redbridge, Havering, Croydon, Wandsworth, Richmond upon Thames and Kingston upon Thames - to share and ignite arts and culture throughout London communities by using the communal space of the high street as its stage.

The Streets will enhance urban regeneration strategies with arts and culture by staging dynamic, spectacular performances and stimulating local participation and discovery. From dawn until dusk, there will be mass percussion events on high streets, brilliant world music stars in cafes and bars, twilight takeovers in empty shops and musical gems to be found in corner shops and markets. The project will animate public and commercial spaces, surprise audiences and consumers and enrich the streets with unique experiences.

Claire Whitaker, Director of Serious, said: “The Streets is a fantastic opportunity to bring some magic to high streets and town centres in outer London boroughs and to showcase the dynamism and creativity there is to be found all across the capital. Serious are looking forward to working with artists and performers, as well as the boroughs themselves, to develop exciting new work that will entertain and stimulate audiences, whilst bringing new life to parts of the capital that have less of a profile than central London.”

The consortium has been working closely with the Mayor of London's Office and London Councils, which represents all 32 boroughs and the City of London. It recently won £600,000 of Arts Council England Strategic Touring funding to deliver this distinctive cultural programme, which will tour each of the boroughs twice a year – once in the summer and once in the autumn. With Serious as the creative partner, in November the EFG London Jazz Festival will come to The Streets with Festival on the Move, bringing some of the most exciting international artists who will be popping up in pubs, pocket parks and shopping centres. 

The Streets will involve local collaborations between councils, high street businesses, schools, community groups and arts organisations from each borough, working alongside artists to create new work that will complement and add value to pre-existing local activity.

As a local authority led strategic touring programme bringing together cultural and urban regeneration initiatives, a key aim will be to encourage local residents, high street businesses, young people and visiting audiences to reimagine their public spaces and experience them differently as social hubs of cultural and creative activity. It will promote the distinctiveness of local high streets as destinations and seek to attract new visitors to areas which deserve greater profile and recognition for what is already on offer. 

Guy Nicholson, London Councils’ representative on the Arts Council Area Council for London and on the Mayor’s Cultural Strategy Group said: “The Streets project will help bring people together and play a major role in strengthening our local town centre economies. The arts have repeatedly proved themselves as the catalyst for creating healthier, happier and cohesive communities and for revitalising local economies.

“This project exemplifies the new way of collaborative working between local government, Arts Council and the arts sector itself. Such collaborations are designed to support the artist to create new work to connect people and places.

“The arts bring us together in a shared experience of creativity and expression and what better place to do this than on our high streets. Arts and regeneration hand in hand is the key to unlocking our future prosperity.”

New commissions of arts activity will tour around all the boroughs, animating the city's geography, connecting communities and creating corridors of sound. There will be music walks, dances and trails across the high street, exploring the rich history and heritage of these neighbourhoods. 

Joyce Wilson, Area Director, London, Arts Council England, commented: “This is a really exciting example of what can be achieved when arts organisations, local authorities, schools and community groups work together. It will bring a wealth of inspiring activities to audiences in these seven outer-London boroughs that we hope will not only excite, but also create a lasting impression that will see more and more people engage with arts and cultural activities – as audiences, participants, performers and artists in their own right. We are delighted to be able to support The Streets through our Strategic touring programme.”

The Streets will also help to realise the Mayor of London's new vision for cultural tourism across the capital, launched on Wednesday 25 March, which highlights the untapped potential of smaller and lesser known gems across the city, not just in central London.   It will also augment the Mayor’s programme of music for Londoners announced on Monday 23 March for Gigs and Busk In London.

Munira Mirza, Deputy Mayor for Education and Culture, said: “The Streets is an exciting project that builds on work we are already doing to increase cultural activity in outer London boroughs. With Serious on board, the enthusiasm of the boroughs and Arts Council support, I hope this new collaboration will catalyse new creativity and shine a light on these boroughs as cultural destinations for local people and visitors alike.” 

The boroughs and their respective high streets involved in the consortium are: Waltham Forest (Leyton), Redbridge (Ilford), Havering (Romford), Croydon (South Norwood), Wandsworth (Tooting), Richmond upon Thames (Twickenham) and Kingston upon Thames (Kingston).