Lewisham is London Borough of Culture 2022 – Here are some highlights

This is a sponsored article on behalf of We Are Lewisham.

Lewisham’s year as the Mayor of London Borough of Culture is drawing ever closer – and you can now start planning how to get involved, thanks to the release of the dazzling events schedule.

The 2022 program, called We Are Lewisham, is described as a “call to action for a more equal future” that celebrates the history of the activism of the church, today’s pioneers and diverse communities. The lineup is packed with a year of workshops, festivals, installations, performances and pop-up performances – including a surreal beach opera, a Vogue ball hosted by a Turner Prize nominee and a Black-led dance spectacle with a 250- stubborn multi-generational cast.

Fascinated? Read on for our pick of the highlights.

The fun begins on January 28, 2022, when Lewisham officially takes on the mantle of London Borough of Culture. Day One is a citywide celebration of curated performances, workshops, and creative challenges that take place hourly.

Head to Lewisham’s main transport hubs to watch Trinity Laban’s composers jam with local music makers, and get ready to shake your tail feather with Alleyne Sisters and IRIE! Dance, which will lead a mass dance moment.

10 tons of sand and 13 singing sunbathers…

We Are Lewisham has three main thrusts: a call to action on the climate, a celebration of diversity (and of Lewisham’s status as the UK’s first Borough of Sanctuary), and a commitment to building inclusivity. The UK premiere of Sun & Sea, one of our top program picks, speaks to the first of these.

Taking home the Golden Lion at the 2019 Venice Biennale, this theatrical installation will bring 10 tons of sand and 13 singing sunbathers to Albany in Deptford in June for a mesmerizing operatic exploration of the relationship between people and the planet.

Another event highlighting climate change is Hope for Justice, a new performance commissioned by Trinity Laban and co-created by composer Eska Mtungwazi, Young Person’s poet award winner Cecilia Knapp and choreographer Sarah Golding — along with hundreds of young people from across the neighborhood .

There is also the launch of Climate Home, a pop-up low-carbon creative space designed, built and run by young people.

A worldwide music festival and large-scale dance spectacle

Also, mark Revolution Through Music – a series of performances showcasing the neighborhood’s music culture – on your calendar. In March, Mercury Prize nominee and Deptford local David Okumu pairs high-profile performers with up-and-coming talent (the headliners have yet to be revealed, but keep an eye on this space for some familiar names).

May is the time to pay tribute to Lewisham’s history of activism through sound system tracks, dub poetry and a Vogue ball hosted by Turner Prize nominee Black Obsidian Sound System. And later in the year, there’s a worldwide music festival in the Horniman Museum Gardens; an exploration of grime, drill and afrobeat curated by Novelist; and a large-scale dance spectacle that brings diverse stories from the neighborhood to life, with a focus on the positive impact of migration.

D/deaf hip-hop drama and color-changing trees

Another highlight of the program is Liberty Festival, which showcases the work of D/deaf, disabled and neurodiverse artists, taking place July 22-24. Accessibility is at the heart of this Mayor of London-funded event, and you can expect relaxed and BSL-interpreted live performances, audio-described visual art and quiet spaces. Look out for a D/deaf hip-hop drama, color-changing trees and a cafe populated by concrete patrons.

Other inclusive events include We Will Be Happy Here – a sensory interactive installation designed for audiences with learning disabilities – and Moving Day, a site-specific meditation on old age and social care, performed by Lewisham residents aged 65 and over.

This is just a taste of what will happen in the municipality in 2022. We haven’t even mentioned the Oral History, the immersive supper clubs and the Creative Futures training program for young residents looking to launch a career in the arts. The We Are Lewisham program is led by Lewisham Council and the Albany. You can browse it in full – and keep an eye on We Are Lewisham’s social media for the latest updates.

Whether you’re a resident of Lewisham or live elsewhere in the capital, there’s so much for culture vultures to get caught up in and – after a pretty bleak few years – enough to leave you feeling hopeful for London’s future.

All images © Manuel Vason & we are Lewisham.

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